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Letter to Incoming Students
March 4, 2015
Dear Incoming Students,
We can't wait for you to join our community. Your admissions counselors have prayed for you, hounded you on the phone, and now you're getting ready to move to campus (some of you already have). We are excited for you about your upcoming classes and all the experiences that await you as you begin this season of your life. My prayer is that the Lord will richly bless you during your time with us at RTS.
Throughout this website, there are links to other web pages that will give you valuable information about a whole spectrum of topics from insurance coverage to local restaurant reviews and from RTS student policies to upcoming social events. Please read through this website, and feel free to call if you have any questions (601-923-1670). We want to help you adjust to all aspects of seminary life as smoothly as possible.
Summer Institute for Biblical Languages
To see the schedules for all of the SIBL languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic), see the main SIBL webpage. For those of you taking Summer Hebrew (which is recommended for incoming MDIV students), Hebrew I and II will be in session from June 15-August 7, 2015 (Mon-Fri, 10-11:55 am).The text will be Pratico and Van Pelt's Basics of Biblical Hebrew. You can purchase it from the on-campus bookstore or at the RTS online bookstore, MindandHeart.com. To get a head start, we recommend memorizing as much vocabulary in advance as you can, since vocabulary is simple and straightforward, but you might have questions about grammar. Registration for Summer Languages opens on April 1 and can be completed through Self-Service.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
If you are an incoming MDIV student and you are wondering what you should do before you arrive in Jackson to prepare yourself for seminary, here's one answer: memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism will give you a theological foundation and framework to make the most of your seminary education. It will give you precise theological categories on which you will be able to hang all the pieces of your seminary education. You will need to pass WSC 1-53 before enrolling in Comm I in the fall of your 2nd year and you will need to pass WSC 54-107 before enrolling in Comm II in the spring of your 3rd year.
The Reformed Informer
The Reformed Informer, our weekly campus newsletter and primary source of communication between the seminary and students, is emailed weekly and announces upcoming events, advertises items for sale, lists job openings, and delivers important information directly relevant to the entire student body (critical dates, financial aid information, deadlines, policy changes, etc). RTS students are responsible both for the contents of Informer as well as ensuring that they receive the Informer. Weekly perusal of the column headlines should deliver the least amount of information possible to be aware of important dates and notices, but it's witty enough that you should read the whole thing!
We encourage you to sign up to receive the Informer now by contacting our editor, Adam Parker, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t sign up now, once you register using Self Service and submit an email address, this address will receive the weekly Informer. If you decide to deactivate this email address, you should contact Adam at email@example.com and notify him of the new address to which you would like the Informer sent. If you have anything you would like to publish in the Reformed Informer, please email Adam Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must be in by Wednesday at noon prior to the Friday edition.
New Student Orientation will be held on August 18, 2015. All new students (even those MDIV students who began with Summer Hebrew) and spouses will meet in the Chapel at 8:30 a.m. (Orientation will go to 4:00 pm) where you will be formally welcomed and introduced to various staff and faculty members, have lunch with your faculty prayer group leader, hear advice from students who are further along in your program, and receive insight about how to maintain sanity under the stress of graduate school from our resident experts. Photographs for student IDs will be taken during this time. Childcare will be provided from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. If you are planning to use childcare, you must call us at 601-923-1670 to make a reservation before August 18.
For those of you in the MFT program, as a way to help ease your transition, we will pair up each incoming MFT student with a second year "buddy." Buddies are intended to be resources for you to answer questions and, more importantly, to help you begin to build relationships within the program. Because they have been where you are now, they can offer support and encouragement as you encounter the challenges of graduate school. You will meet your buddy during orientation.
Registration for fall classes opens June 15 through Self Service. You will want to be familiar with the Self Service Registration Process and Important Dates, and, if you have not done so already, how to set up a Self Service account. As you consider which courses you will be taking this fall, we strongly encourage you to follow the prescribed curriculum for your degree program. You can find a link to the prescribed curriculum for your degree here. If you chose to deviate from your prescribed curriculum, you may create a course conflict towards the end of your degree program that will require you to stay another year. If you have questions or concerns about your course choices, please contact Kim Lee, our Registrar, at email@example.com.
Students taking 12 or more hours are required to demonstrate proof of insurance each Fall and Spring semester. It is generally advisable for students entering RTS to continue whatever existing health coverage they already have. If you are looking for health care solutions, you may want to visit our Student Insurance Options page. Full-time students must demonstrate proof of insurance within the two-week window around the first day of class. Failure to demonstrate proof of insurance within this timeframe will result in you being dropped from your classes.
Convocation and Lunch
At 11:00 am on Wednesday, August 19, there will be a campus-wide meeting for old and new students to begin the academic year worshipping together and preparing our hearts for the work ahead. Following Convocation, there will be a free lunch provided, at which you can meet your faculty prayer group leader.
When you first move in, whether on-campus or off, you should make a point on a weekday to go to the mailroom located at Patterson's Porch (the building across the tennis courts from the Dean Center). You will need to get a campus mailbox, which is an important means of communication with faculty and staff.
If you are moving in from out of state and you are establishing residence here, you will need to go to the County Tax Collector, located in the courthouse of Raymond, MS, and get a Mississippi tag for your car. You have 30 days to do this before you will receive a fine of $250 (so don't put it off). You will need two proofs of residency, as well as all the information on your car (title, registration receipt, lien holder information, etc.). You can call 601-857-5574 or 601-857-5575 if you have any questions or you can visit the Hinds County Tax Collector online.
To obtain a Mississippi drivers license, you will need to go to the Jackson Headquarters located at 1900 Woodrow Wilson Rd. To find out what you will need to take with you, visit the Mississippi Department of Public Safety website. You may also contact the licensing office at 601-987-1284. The Mississippi Department of Motor Vehicles will also provide you with all the information you need.
If you don't already have an RTS decal, please come by the Admissions office and pick one up. The decal should be placed inside your windshield in the lower-right corner (the passenger side). This will help security know who you are both on campus and at the town homes. Every vehicle needs a decal. Also note that the security code for the front gate at the main campus is #1369 and the security code for the town homes is 01689.
Chapel meets every Wednesday from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm. Not only are we building our minds for truth, but we ought to be developing our hearts for God. Chapel is required for all full-time (12 hours/semester or more). Check out the RTS Chapel webpage to hear past chapel messages. I look forward to worshiping and praising God together with you.
To help make your transition to the RTS community and the community of Jackson a little easier, we have provided a number of useful resources on the Jackson Area Resources web page. Included on this page are links to the RTS Community Life and Reference Guide that lists area businesses, maps of Jackson and the RTS campus, Jackson and Clinton attractions, and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.
You may want to check out the Student Cabinet webpage that lists your student representatives and the upcoming campus events. Interested in cross-cultural ministry? Check out the African American Leadership Initiative. Have a heart for missions? Get plugged into the Great Commission Society.
You can also find information on Athletics here. The Student Handbook is also available for you to read. The handbook sets forth the seminary's policies regarding both the academic and social contexts of our community. Please review these guidelines so that you will know what you should expect from the faculty and staff as well as what is expected of you as a student.
There are many different approaches to preparing to begin your seminary education. Some would say you should read a variety books to strengthen your theological foundation. Some might say to kick back and enjoy your spare time (movies, fiction, games, etc.) now because it will be limited later. Some might suggest that spending quality time with your family to strengthen important relationships is essential before you embark on the intense season of graduate study. Some would recommend that you get ahead on your classes by contacting the professors and digging into the required reading now. But I think everyone would recommend carving out habits of spending daily time with the Lord to ground yourself in your relationship with Him. Out of that primary relationship, everything else will flow.
I'll See You Soon
May you take comfort and refuge in Christ in this time of transition into life at Reformed Theological Seminary, and I look forward to you becoming part of our community. I am confident that your training here will bring glory to God as the good news about Jesus Christ goes into Jackson, into all of Mississippi, into America, and even to the end of the earth.
For His Kingdom,
Director of Admissions