13 Things To Remember When You Do Your Undergraduate or Graduate Work

These 13 things have coalesced over many years of undergrad, grad, and post-grad college and seminary education. After reading what Dr. Van Kleeck wrote regarding young men throwing off their early theological training for their professors’ lectures, I thought this to be a timely list. This is not comprehensive, but it has been very helpful negotiating the academic minefield that is higher education.

  1. The professors owe you an education. You are paying dearly for it. Your family is under time, financial, and personal pressures. They are there to teach you because you have paid them to do a service.
  2. Because they owe you an education because you are paying for it, there should never be a question that they are unable to answer. They are being paid to answer your questions. The notion that they are above this help is an indication of the Professor’s misguided sense of his role in the teaching process.
  3. The syllabus is a contract that is not to be violated. You are going to schedule your life around its content – when tests are given, when papers are due. The professor is not free to change the contract in mid-semester.
  4. Professors are not your friends. They may be gracious, but you are just one student among countless others. To give your allegiance to them rather than to those who really love you (your pastor or parents) is misplaced loyalty. The loyalty they hope to engender in you is to demonstrate that they can extend their ideas through you.
  5. The only difference between you and the professor is time. Given enough time you will be able to read, study, and digest everything they have. Professorship is not another thing; it is just part of the same continuum you are on.
  6. A professor can be just as full of nonsense as anyone else. The degree makes them informed, not wise.
  7. Good students are critical thinkers and would never go along with a lecture simply because it was given by a Ph.D.
  8. Don’t be hesitant to disagree with your fellow students cordially but strongly. Publicly debate with them; test your argument; see if your position holds up under scrutiny; grow in your self-assurance that what you are saying is not only consistent but undefeatable. If your argument holds up under scrutiny in grad and post-grad school, responding to objections after graduation will be to rehearse proven arguments.
  9. Take the good and filter out the bad. Professors and institutions have varying skill sets and capabilities. Not everyone you study under is worth your time. Use the institution to accomplish what you want out of it.
  10. If you’re not echoing the institutions status quo, it is especially important that you are not happy with anything but “A’s.” If you claim to have the truth but your work is deficient, it’s hard to convince others that you know what you’re doing.
  11. If your goal is to be approved of by the Institution, you have already forsaken the critical spirit necessary to get the most out of your education. This is when the term “inbred” is applied to professors who receive all their education at the Institution where they presently teach. Such lectures are predictable, and the student’s response to the lectures are also expected to be predictable.
  12. Never turn in a late paper.
  13. The one truth that can never be forsaken, is that the Bible is without error. This one truth will enable you to thrive in a critical academic environment.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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