Orientation to the Seminar

Contents: IntroductionOrientationCore CurriculumAdditional Resources

You are about to organize a seminar that has the potential to change lives – not only the lives of your students, but the lives of countless people they will lead and serve. Take a moment to reflect on the impact of the following people (you probably know specific individuals who fit into these categories):

  • Doctors, surgeons, and nurses who restore people to health and save lives
  • Lawyers and judges who pursue justice, defend human rights, and help others interpret and obey the laws of the land
  • Educators who teach everyone from the child learning his alphabet to graduate students finishing their doctorates
  • Corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who bring valuable products and services into the marketplace
  • Researchers who discover new medicines, physical laws, biological species, and more
  • Government officials and policy makers who strive to improve the structure of society
  • Social workers and counselors who serve others’ physical, emotional, and psychological need
  • Artists who create works of great beauty and power

So far, I’ve only described their professional work. How much more could be said about their other contributions made possible by their profession? Think of their volunteer roles, financial contributions, and leadership in their churches, nonprofits, and communities, not to mention the young people they will teach and mentor along the way.

It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? Nonetheless, these are the paths that your students are about to begin. While they may or may not seem like world-changers at the moment, only God knows what their futures hold.

While nothing is impossible with God, virtually all of these opportunities require graduate school as a primary requirement. Their undergraduate degree has prepared for the next stage of education, and now graduate school will prepare them for their future careers and professions.

Goals of the Seminar

The Emerging Scholars Network, part of InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries, has developed this Getting Ready for Graduate School seminar as a resource for you and your students. The goals of the seminar are:

  • To provide a Biblical foundation for students as they enter the next stage of their education and the first stage of their career
  • To help students understand God’s calling in their lives and discern how they can respond to His call with their whole life
  • To challenge students to submit their whole being — their heart, soul, mind, and strength — to the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • To equip and prepare students for the specific challenges of graduate school

Why is this seminar necessary?

Your work with your students has (God willing) given them a strong foundation as Christian believers. As they make this transition to graduate school, they will be experiencing a number of challenges that need special attention:

  • While they will continue to be students, many of them will be entering a new phase of life, which could include establishing their own household, getting married, having children, greater individuation from their parents or other family, increased expectations of success (however defined), establishing themselves in a new city, perhaps living on their own for the first time, and much more.
  • Graduate school will often involve a move to another campus, which is usually much larger or very different. Because graduate students are usually more focused on their program of study and less interested in community, it can sometimes be more difficult to find Christian community in graduate school.
  • Because graduate degrees are more narrowly focused than undergraduate degrees, students commonly face greater intellectual and spiritual challenges in graduate school. These challenges can be explicit – a research advisor who says that no respectable scientist can believe in God – but often they are more subtle. Heavy workloads and high expectations from peers and supervisors might discourage graduate students from taking a Sabbath or being involved with Christian community, for example, or students in high-earning fields might be tempted to see financial compensation as the primary motivation for their work.
  • In many cases, graduate programs are highly competitive, and students need both a strong spiritual foundation and practical advice to succeed.

For these reasons and others, we think that this seminar will be a great benefit to your students.

Who is this seminar designed for?

While any student may benefit from this seminar, the intended participants are seniors and juniors who are either planning or considering to attend graduate school.

The seminar is designed to benefit students going into any masters, doctoral, or professional degree program, regardless of the discipline. We have provided additional resources for specific degrees or fields of study.

What is the format of the seminar?

The seminar is designed to be offered in a single two- to three-hour block of time. We have included articles that can be given to students ahead of time or afterwards. We have also included materials specific for students going into Law, Business, and Education, and we will be adding additional discipline-specific materials over time.

Next – Curriculum

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