By Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer
As the second week of Sing comes to a close, several Baylor professors share how they help their students involved in All-University Sing balance their academic workload with their rigorous rehearsal and performance schedules.
Sharon Gripp, a senior lecturer as well as the undergraduate program director for journalism, public relations and new media, asked her students if they felt conflicted between their obligation to their academics and their obligation to Sing.
“Many of them said, yes. One of the things that I have recently discovered was that some sororities and fraternities require you to participate, you don’t have a choice,” Gripp said.
Gripp said that this bothered her because it puts the student in a place where they have to choose between their organization and their academics.
“I think they have to remember that sometimes they have to say no to someone in to an organization, if it’s going to severely, negatively impact them in their academics,” Gripp said.
Although a social life is an aspect of students’ overall college experience, their academics are still their reason for being at Baylor, Gripp said.
Dr. Tony Talbert, professor and associate dean of strategic initiatives for the School of Education, previously taught undergraduate courses such as Social Issues in Education, where he taught students how to balance Sing and their academics.
“We talk about the Baylor experience, whatever that means. It means different things to different people,” Talbert said. “I think there’s something real about that.”
Talbert said the overall Baylor experience is more than a major or a degree plan. School traditions and events, like Sing and Pigskin, are part of a Baylor degree.
“If I believe that my class isn’t the end all be all, and that my degree plan isn’t the end all be all, that Sing experience is something that I’m going to integrate into the schedule,” Talbert said.
Although Talbert believes that these social commitments enhance a college education, he understands that too many commitments, social and academic, can cause problems.
“I think it’s very important for people to be as involved as they can, from a time management standpoint. I also think it’s important for people to run up against the realities of, ‘I said yes too much,’” Talbert said.
Dr. Joshua King, a professor in the English department, said he typically does not see his students struggle to manage their time between Sing and his classes.
“I’ve just been blessed with very good students who are doing their work, but they are quite tired at this time,” King said.
King said his students reach out to him ahead of time when they have upcoming commitments like Sing or other time-consuming events.
“The good thing is they have been notifying me ahead of time, this is coming, and I will just give them advice about reading ahead and that kind of thing,” King said.
Gripp said she would prefer her students to notify her at the start of the year about their involvement in Greek life or their position as a Sing chair.
“I would rather them come to me and talk about it as opposed to getting really behind or missing something and then not knowing what to do,” Gripp said.
Gripp said that when she had students come to her at the start of class, it makes it easier for her to help them balance their time.
“I’ve had somebody come to me at the beginning of a previous semester, some say, ‘I’m the Sing chair this semester. I feel like I’m already overwhelmed, and I just want you to know, I want to try and stay on top of all my classes and my studies and I may need help at a certain time and I will keep you updated,’” Gripp said.
This would open up an honest communication between the professor and the student that would prevent unnecessary stress during this time of year.
“Typically what I would say to students at the very beginning of the spring, ‘If you’re engaged in activities and organizations social, political, Greek [or] whatever it happens to be, talk to me about your schedule,’” Talbert said.
When Talbert talked to his students about time management, he would always ask them a question that he would touch upon in their classroom.
“I would always say, ‘I need you to make a decision: Is this urgent or is it important?’ And I talked with my classes frequently about urgency and importance. Let’s not mix the two up. Now sometimes the two go hand in hand,” Talbert said.
Talbert said his students would work out their time management and scheduling issues when it came to commitments like Sing or other Greek life activities and events.
“There’s a consequence either way, and that’s what we talk through. There’s a grade consequence, but there also might be a social membership consequence,” Talbert said.
When students talked through the decision with him, Talbert said that they would usually come to a solution on their own.
“If we can’t have those conversations, then the experience we have at Baylor is not fully humanizing education,” Talbert said.