So You Want To Get Educated?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Jan 31, 2007.

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Which Do You Prefer

  1. OnCampus Classes Only

    6 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. Distance/Online Classes Only

    9 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. A Combo (Distance/Oncampus)

    3 vote(s)
    11.1%
  4. I Don't Really Care As Long As I Get A Good Degree

    9 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. Martin

    Martin
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    So you want to get educated? You believe that God has called you to attend seminary. However you quickly realize that, for whatever reason, packing your bags/family and moving to ___________ is just not really something you can do. So, what do you do?

    Some will tolerate long commutes while others will look to online/distance education to help them out. Which is best? The drive? Distance learning?

    I suppose it depends. Our church once interviewed a gentlemen, to be a youth pastor, who lived in South Carolina and who was attending class at Southeastern Seminary (Raleigh, NC). He would make sure his classes were all on the same day and would drive up one day and come back the next. For him going to a physical classroom was worth the long drive and cost of gas. However some people don't live within driving range of any major seminary and simply can't move. For them distance learning is probably the best option. Others simply can't arrange their work schedule, or don't have the money, to attend classes and make long commutes. To make matters worse some seminaries, such as Campbell Divinity School***, require students to attend courses during the day and to attend full time in order to earn a degree.

    From Campbell's FAQ section:
    "Can I be a part-time student?
    Yes, you may be enrolled as a part-time student. While we do have a few students who take one or two classes each semester, we do encourage our students to maintain full-time enrollment (9 hours or more). You cannot graduate by maintaining part-time status." (underline added)

    Again:
    "When are classes held?
    Currently, master level classes are held on Monday afternoons, Tuesdays and Thursdays, including evenings. This block scheduling offers classes from early mornings to late evenings. A student cannot graduate by attending only one day a week or by attending only at night. Students are encouraged to become as deeply involved with the Divinity School community as possible." (underline added)"

    Yet Again:
    "Are there any distance learning or online programs?
    Not at this time."

    They don't offer distance learning, they don't let you attend only at night, and you can't graduate as a part time student. That type of program is not a practical option for many adults, who have families who need to eat (selfish beasts...). While I single out Campbell other schools do the same thing. So what is a person to do?

    This is where distance learning comes into play. If for whatever reason you can't attend classes on campus many fine seminaries/universities offer online degree programs. In fact you can find a online degree program from most all majors.

    Today students are not required to look to sub-standard unaccredited** schools for distance learning. Many fine schools offer degree programs via online learning and/or distance learning. Other schools will allow students to finish part of their degree online and the other part on campus using week long module courses.

    So the options are endless and the sky is truly the limit. If you want a good Christian seminary education you can earn it. It is not out of your reach!


    _________

    **Not all unaccredited schools are substandard. However I would always advise students seeking graduate degrees, oncampus or distance, to earn their degree from an established accredited school.

    ***Campbell's FAQ Page
     
  2. bobbyd

    bobbyd
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    I prefer on campus studies, but since i'm pastoring right now i'm looking for distance studies.
     
  3. JamieinNH

    JamieinNH
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    I voted that I didn't care which way I get an education. I am in a similar situtation now. I feel God has called me to be a pastor, but it's tough getting Life, Money, and School to line up. I have just made my mind up, that I have to let the Lord lead me, and I am sure he will make it happen.

    I am currently enrolled at Liberty in their DLP, but I would love to be able to go to class in person also. Either way, as long as the education I am getting it a good, sound one.

    Jamie
     
  4. Jack Matthews

    Jack Matthews
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    This is just some advise based on observation. As an attorney who works with people in the business world every day, I know that online and distance degree programs are looked upon with suspicion. Of course, here in Nashville, there is virtually an endless supply of B.A.'s and M.A.'s because we have so many colleges and universities right in town. When prospective clients walk into my office, I can see their eyes go right up to the diploma hanging on the wall.

    When I served as chair of the youth pastor search team at my church a while back, we got over 150 recommendations. The distance and online degree people got moved to the bottom of the pile pretty fast. That may be a perception that changes in the future, but most of the team members felt that someone who was serious about their ministry calling would demonstrate that by making the personal sacrifice and investment in a quality theological education.
     
  5. Martin

    Martin
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    ==I don't think your observations (etc) here are universally true. In fact in many cases I think what you have mentioned here does not become an issue. Many businesses, universities, seminaries, and churches have no problem with distance learning degrees/credits as long as the degrees/credits were earned at an established, fully accredited school. While some will always frown upon distance learning many do not. Also many major universities and seminaries that offer distance learning (East Carolina, NC State, Liberty University, etc) make no notation of how the degree was earned on the student's degree/transcript. Employers usually do not ask about that either (I am not sure they legally can).

    Also the idea that if "was serious about their ministry calling would demonstrate that by making the personal sacrifice and investment in a quality theological education" is silly. I believe it is common sense that many people cannot just pack up and move. They, and their family, are established in a community. They may not be able to afford a move. Their job may offer health benefits that they believe their family cannot be without due to a sick child (etc). So the idea that if someone was serious they would make sacrifices is, in this context, just plain silly, insulting, out of date, and very unrealistic. Considering the fact that community colleges, major universities, and seminaries are offering distance/online learning today should show anyone that these programs can be done in a way that allows a student to gain a solid education.

    If a person wishes to further their education they should take advantage of whatever programs are offered by these universities/seminaries that would help them achieve their goals. That includes distance/online learning. Anyone who has earned a degree, or credits, via online/distance learning from an accredited university/seminary knows full well that there are many sacrifices that must be made in order to do so. These programs are not easy.
     
    #5 Martin, Jan 31, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2007
  6. Jack Matthews

    Jack Matthews
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    I think distance or online learning is great for those who already have a good portion of their education and are in a career position, desiring continuing education. I think they are designed for that.

    There is no distinction made on diplomas at schools such as those you mentioned. However, most of them, with a couple of notable exceptions, have a residency or on-campus requirement to complete the degree. However, schools that only offer online or distance degrees are known, and noted in the business world. It may not be universal, but it doesn't have to be for the candidate who faces a potential employer with a bias against online education.

    I can't really say what prompted our search committee, but several of the members asked the candidates if they went to the campus or if they went online or to a distance program. It is legal to ask that, I assure you, and this search committee did so without my prompting. Knowing the makeup of this particular committee, I knew that some of them would set aside candidates from particular schools, regardless of whether they were distance or not, simply because they felt candidates from those schools would not fit with our church. Personally, I don't really agree with that, since I've encountered pastors and church staff who went to schools that most Baptists would call "liberal," but were as solidly evangelical and conservative as anyone, and those who went to Bob Jones or Liberty who were way further to the left than me.

    Over the years, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of seminary students have moved their families, taken jobs at manual labor, driven delivery vans, trucks, and did whatever they had to do to put themselves through school in the place where the courses were offered. You may think that's silly. I doubt that they do. And let me tell you, if I ever get to serve on another search committee, you can be doggone sure that I'll pick a candidate who has made those kind of sacrifices to answer the Lord's call, and stepped out on that kind of faith, than some whining kid who complains about the inconvenience and disruption to the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. If your ministry calling is going to "interrupt" and inconvenience your personal prosperity, you'll be a lot better off selling insurance. There's more money in it, the hours are better and you can preserve your lifestyle and community roots.
     
  7. Martin

    Martin
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    ==I will have to look into the legality of that. If it is legal to ask that it should not be and the law needs to be amended.


    ==I don't think they are silly. What I called silly was the notion that unless a person did that they are not dedicated to the call. Education is changing my friend, and anyone who refuses to keep up will be left behind. Technology is changing the way universities/seminaries operate and the way they deliever their programs. These changes open doors to students who at one time "could not" have moved to campus or done the commuter thing. That is a positive thing and they should not be put down for it.

    ==That statement shows a major lack of knowledge about how distance learning actually works. It is not easy and it can be very inconvenient and, in some ways, harder than traditional oncampus learning. In fact it is not for everyone. Those who earn a graduate level degree online from NC State, East Carolina, Regent, or Liberty have worked hard to earn those degrees. They are not "whining kids". They have worked hard, many times harder than oncampus students, to earn that degree and their hard work/dedication should be rewarded.

    ==That is bad advice. It is wreckless for a person not to have health insurance to cover themselves (which btw most universities/seminaries require you have) but it is wreckless and immoral for a person not to have insurance for their children/wife (when they can afford it). If they get sick they should have the best medical care that can be provided. And, unless the person is wealthy, without insurance, that cannot be provided for them. If someone is willing to drop their family's health insurance so they can attend school well, to be nice, I don't think much of that person's choices. That is only multiplied if the person has a sick child (cancer, asthma, etc) who really, really needs the insurance. Distance education opens doors for people who, in the past, could not move to attend traditional oncampus classes. That is a good thing and, as I said, those who earn degrees via this method have worked very hard for their degree.
     
    #7 Martin, Jan 31, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2007
  8. following-Him

    following-Him
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    I prefer campus based classes. I have tried distance learning and it didn't work out at all. I much prefer to be with other students. Distance learning was too isolating for me.

    Blessings

    followinghim
     
  9. Brandon C. Jones

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    I couldn't fathom distance learning for seminary.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433
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    If the military could educate soldiers just as well online I am sure they would have done that a long time ago.

    Online education is much like saying a person does not have to go to church to hear the message and worship God. In a sense that is true but there is not the practical sense of community and seeing examples.

    When a potential faculty member comes for an interview who has been online educated it is quickly noted that the person does not have the classroom experience of how to handle a classroom situation.
     
  11. Phil310

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    How can you tell if one is on-line/distance learning educated or classroom educated without asking the person/applicant? Is it reflected on their degree or transcripts?
     
  12. Jack Matthews

    Jack Matthews
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    Yes in some cases, no in others. It depends on the school and their registration codes. An official transcript shows the course number, name of the course, days of the week the course met, dates of the semester attended, the room number or campus location where the course met, the instructor and the grade. Some schools simply put on the transcript that the course was taken on line. I've seen that before, as well as schools who assign different course numbers for courses taken on line or in an extension center. It's a matter of looking up the number of the course in the catalog.

    Theological education is valuable enough to the Catholics and the Mormons that a significant percentage of the church funds are designated for "Christian Education." Of course, the trade off among Catholics is a commitment to a celibate life in poverty, but they take care of your expenses and your health insurance. For Mormons, its that two year mission, but your living expenses and health insurance are paid for. Baptists could do that too, except that we are too afraid the school down the road might have a different view of one of our pet presuppositions and we sure wouldn't want to corrupt our kids with that. So we create small, inefficient, expensive to operate competing schools and charge our seminarians a price that a ministerial salary can't pay off until they're 50.
     
  13. Carolina Baptist

    Carolina Baptist
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    Much of the academic education of military personnel is done as distance learning.(At leas it was when I was in.) We often took correspondence courses to qualify for a particular position or for promotion.

    Certainly we had to hold the weapon to learn to fire it, but there is simply not enough classroom space or teaching personnel to meet the entire need of the military.

    Also much of the practical (as opposed to academic) training was done at our station or base by trainers sent by the district office. I haven't seen many colleges sending professors out to the churches to hold class.
     
  14. Martin

    Martin
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    ==Many military people earn their BA, BS, and MA degrees online from schools like Liberty, NC State, and ECU. But I suppose, in your opinion, those schools don't know what they are doing?

    ==Since online learning often requires more self discipline, and more work, that comparison is false. A strawman.

    ==I suppose that can be true of someone who has done all of their learning online (which I don't recommend). However I also know as a fact that such problems also exist with people who were educated in the more traditional manner.
     
  15. Martin

    Martin
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    ==That is a common complaint and one reason I point out that online/distance learning is not for everyone. Personally I can do either oncampus/distance just fine.
     
  16. BarryJ

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    Your reply describes my situation. The only difference is I haven't started a class yet. Money is a problem. I also am praying that the Lord would lead me.
     
  17. Martin

    Martin
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    ==I don't see why not. School is school. I know many seminaries act like their school is equal to the local church, but it is not. There is, technically, no New Testament foundation for seminaries. So it really does not matter where one gets their degree. It can be from a secular or Christian university, a Bible College, a Seminary, oncampus, or online. It matters only that the person learns the material. Now certainly there are seminary classes that, by their very nature, must be done on campus (preaching, etc). Seminaries deal with that by doing one of the following: (a) requiring a certain number of on campus courses (usually done in week long mini-sessions with pre and post meeting assignments), (B) only allow half of the degree to be earned online.

    Either way seminaries, like secular universities, must come to terms with online education. In one form or the other it is the future of adult higher education.
     
  18. Brandon C. Jones

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    That's fine there's a market for distance ed. and people are responding. However, I'm old-fashioned and have no interest in the wave of the future and will never be part of that market. I can't fathom an online m.div. and for those who hate seminaries and what not my opinion doesn't matter anyways. It matters to me where I've studied so I've avoided the distance route. I don't care what others do.
     
  19. eddie

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    Martin,

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have said. I have a wife and child to support. For me to quit my job and move to attend seminary when I can complete a M.Div online is irresponsible. However, I in no way criticize others who make that choice. This is a personal decision. I see online learning as a wonderful blessing from God, and I believe that God can do great things through men who study God's word at home or on campus!

    Eddie
     
  20. Martin

    Martin
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    Eddie,

    I think what you have said is 100% true. Folks like you are one of the main reasons we need distance/online learning. God bless you in your studies!

    Martin.
     

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