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Shalom, from Waynesburg University

 

Roberts Chapel ChristmasA couple of weeks back, I sat in the pews of the First Presbyterian Church of Waynesburg—just a block from campus—celebrating the second week of Advent. Pastor Bill Sukolsky preached on the theme of the week, peace, and one part of his sermon struck me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

He spoke to the congregation about how peace was more than simply happiness. True, I thought to myself, there certainly is more to it than just being happy. Then he mentioned an even stronger word along those same lines: shalom.

Wait a minute, I thought, I’d heard that before. It took me back to my years as an undergraduate at Waynesburg, fall of my junior year to be exact. I was enrolled in Introduction to New Testament with Dr. Kisner, and he kept bringing that word up: shalom. My 20-year-old self wondered, what’s this “shalom” thing all about?

Three years later, just down College Street from good ol’ Buhl Hall, Pastor Bill’s words finally brought it all together for me. Shalom is more than simply happiness, even more than peace. It’s contentment, completeness, fulfillment and perfectness. And it’s what we as Christians are called to work toward here on Earth, even in the midst of such an imperfect world.

As I reflected in church that day, I continued to think back to my time as an undergraduate at Waynesburg and to the seed Dr. Kisner planted. I realized that while it may not use the exact words, Waynesburg University’s mission is, in fact, to train its students to go out into the world and bring shalom here to Earth as best they can.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Kisner (or “Kiz”) can put it a little better than I can. Here are his thoughts:
"The angels proclaimed, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace . . .'  As the Biblical people understood it, peace had more expansive connotations than the absence of armed conflict. The concept of shalom meant justice and righteousness restored, the entire creation redeemed of its pervasive brokenness. God’s mission, the mission Dei, has always been to raise lowly valleys, level every hill, straighten the crooked, and smooth the roughened so that God’s salvation might be held in every molecule of creation. And now this mission is ours: to witness to the Newborn King whenever and wherever Lord God reveals the divine, saving work of the cosmos."

So from Kiz, myself and the rest of the Waynesburg University family, we want to wish everyone shalom during this holiday season. May you gain a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the word, and may you recognize the importance of bringing that perfect concept to an imperfect world.

Merry Christmas, and God bless!

Top 10 college application mistakes

 

If you’re a high school senior hoping to attend a college or university next fall, there’s a good chance it’s crunch time for you. Application deadlines or priority deadlines are looming, and you’re rushing (hopefully not too frantically…see No. 2) to get them all turned in. Here’s two handfuls of common mistakes to avoid in your haste…

10. Having mom and dad do it for you.  It’s OK to get some advice from your parents, but neither one of them should be filling out applications or writing essays for you. Colleges want to hear from YOU, not mom and dad. We know you’re busy, but you’re not that busy. (Just wait until you get to college—then you’ll realize how good you had it!)

9. Using your “clever” e-mail address and/or not checking it.  Listen up biebsbiggestfan@aim.com, we know you love the pop star, but that won’t win over most college admissions counselors. And whatever you put down as your e-mail, check it often. There may be pertinent information from your top choice waiting in your inbox.

8. Writing illegibly.  If your name, address, phone number and e-mail look more like hieroglyphics than standard English, the admissions office has no way of contacting you (whatever it guesses that your name might be).

7. Using the wrong college’s name in your essay.  Believe it or not, this happens more than you’d think. Admissions offices realize you may be re-using similar essays for similar prompts, but when you copy & paste, be sure to double check you’re using the correct college’s name.

6. Misspelling words and committing grammatical errors.  This is an easy one. Just proofread everything carefully before submitting or have someone do it for you, and you should be fine.

5. Forgetting your signature.  If an application calls for a signature, chances are the admissions office cannot process your application until they have that. Thus, if you forget your John Hancock, your application will most likely be put on hold.

4. Not sending your transcripts and test scores.  Again, in almost all cases, schools are going to need to see both your high school transcript and standardized test scores. Failure to submit these in support of your application will result in a lengthy wait for a decision.

3. Not answering optional questions.  Even though it may say optional, a university would not put a question or prompt on an application if they didn’t want students to complete that portion. Anything of the sort is an opportunity for you to separate yourself from the rest.

2. Waiting until last minute.  An admissions office is a whirlwind of a place—busy, busy, busy. Waiting until the absolute last second to turn in your application isn’t going to help your chances.

1. Lying!  If an admissions counselor discovers you’ve been untruthful in any way on your application, you can just about kiss your chances of acceptance goodbye.

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

Reflections from Washington: Day 1

 

StoverScholars

When Dr. Larry Stratton, Director of Waynesburg University’s Stover Scholars, invited me to attend the program’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., I wondered why it might be necessary for me to tag along.

As an Admissions Counselor, I can already rattle off that the program is through the Stover Center for Constitutional Studies & Moral Leadership. And I certainly know the three (soon to be four) U.S. Supreme Court Justices—Alito, Sotomayor, O’Connor (and Scalia) for those scoring at home—with whom the students have met. That’s in addition, of course, to the countless other influential leaders to whom they’ve had access.

What I tend to carelessly omit at times, however, is what the program truly strives to accomplish. That goal is to equip tomorrow’s leaders to one day transform the polis through the Christian, moral, ethical principles upon which America was founded—the same principles Waynesburg University was founded on back in 1849.

That realization came to me during our group’s dinner conversation with former Congressman David McIntosh. As someone with an undergraduate degree that focused largely on journalism, I fully expected our tour of NPR and chat with its national political correspondent Mara Liasson to be the highlight of my day. While that was excellent as expected, it was our talk with McIntosh that resonated most in my mind.

McIntosh pointed out that with the direction society and the country are headed, there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when individuals may really have to stick up for their Christian values in the face of stiff resistance. He charged the students to have the strength to do just that and encouraged them by saying if they seek His will, the Lord will always be with them.

Judging by the depth and quality in which the Stover Scholars were interacting with McIntosh, they seem eager to accept his challenge. First thing’s first, though: a class at Georgetown Law School, a meeting at the Supreme Court with Justice Antonin Scalia, and a whole lot more.

And that’s just tomorrow’s schedule…

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

Top 3 reasons to consider a Christian university

 

inside ChapelAs the college search continues for many high school students, the question of whether to attend a secular or Christian institution may come to the forefront of the discussion. This can be a difficult topic, as students try to discern where God is leading them in the midst of such transition and change. While individuals searching for their true calling and direction in life can certainly follow God’s will at secular schools, there are advantages to attending a Christian college or university. Here are the top three…

3. Academic instruction.  In many cases, choosing a Christian institution means choosing a smaller setting. According to collegestats.org, 817 of the country’s religiously affiliated schools have less than 5,000 students. And nearly 400 of those have less than 1,000. So what’s that mean for your academics? It means smaller class sizes, more hands-on learning opportunities and much more individualized attention from faculty. Also, often times, those professors will share the Christian perspective on the subject matters they teach (after laying out all of the facts, of course), allowing students to explore and discover in an informed manner.

2. Service opportunities.  Matthew 20:28 reads, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”  Thus, it’s no surprise that the types of institutions that bear Christ’s name provide boundless opportunities for their students to serve the world around them. Whether it’s serving locally at Habitat for Humanity or traveling halfway across the globe to work with impoverished youth, these experiences prove life altering for so many. And the best schools will seek not only to provide these outlets at their respective institutions, but also to equip their students for a lifetime of servitude for the glory of God.

1. Students’ holistic development.  To many (including myself!), the No. 1 reason to consider a Christian college or university is the opportunity to develop holistically as a person. From top to bottom, the faculty and staff at these institutions care about so much more than just what letter goes down in the grade book. They pour their heart, soul and precious time into students to ensure that they’re not only better job prospects, but that they’re also better men and women of God. And at a time when fiscal responsibility is on the top of everyone’s priority list, that type of college experience is a value that’s worth every single penny. 

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

Top 5 reasons to apply to Waynesburg

 

describe the imageWith so many colleges and universities out there to choose from, it can be difficult to decide
where all to apply. After filling out a few, you may look at the next school on your list and think to yourself, “Why should I apply here?” Well, if you’re asking that about Waynesburg University, this list is your answer! Here’s the top five reasons to apply to Waynesburg:
 

5. It’s free!  Not much to explain here. If you apply online, it won’t cost you a penny!

4. Fun.  College isn’t all about books, and Waynesburg knows that. Whether you’re off to practice, enjoying Bingo night, taking a trip to Pittsburgh or just hanging with friends in the residence halls, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. Oh, and traditions that students enjoy? We’ve got a bunch of those, too. The President’s Breakfast and Pumpkin Bowling are but a couple.

3. Achievement Awards.  Depending on where you’re at with your cumulative high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores, you could be in line for anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 (four-year totals) in Achievement Awards. If you apply and are accepted, you’ll find out right on your acceptance letter how much, if any, you may qualify for. This, along with other Financial Aid, could help defray the total cost of attending Waynesburg, which is already about $8,500 less than other private, four-year institutions!

2. Hands-on learning.  Hands-on learning is a staple here, and in almost every major, that starts freshman year. Whether you’re assessing injuries on the football field, analyzing blood spatter in the Forensic Science Lab or broadcasting events from the University’s remote TV truck, you won’t just be sitting in a classroom. When you are, though, it’ll only be with about 24 others. As a result, your professors will know you and invest themselves in your learning.

1. People.  Cliché? Maybe. But to so many here, the best part of Waynesburg truly is its people. Those faculty members we just mentioned, Residence Life, Campus Ministry Assistants, coaches, and the list could go on – all here committed to our mission of Christian faith, scholarship and service, and to your holistic development as a person.

As you can see, no matter what your criteria, Waynesburg has something for you. Don’t wait; apply today! (Remember, it’s free!)

Student Blog Post: Life Lessons from WU Faculty

 

There are thousands, if not millions, of things I have learned as a student at Waynesburg, all of which have helped to shape me into the person I have and am becoming today.

Academically, I have learned about acrylic painting and drawing; American, British and World literature; human biology and environmental biology; fiction, nonfiction and poetry; photography and design; psychology and sociology; and much more.

Spiritually, I have learned what it means to listen to the Word and reflect on God’s promises—to trust in Him and, through Him, make a difference.

Yet, through all of these things I have learned, there is always something a professor says that resonates beyond everyday learning. These special sayings make us think without asking any questions. Sometimes unaware, the professor continues on with the lecture as you sit in silence pondering that small, profound thought—that pertinent piece of wisdom.

I experienced this feeling a couple of weeks ago as I was sitting in my intermediate poetry class. We were discussing the power of language and art, and how difficult it is to stop thinking about reason and focus on the experience as it stands before you. A tree is a tree, a sparrow is a sparrow, and these things are better described as what they are. They do not need to be decorated with adjectives and metaphors to stand on their own.

It is easy to state what something is, but to describe it in its natural form as is with no formula or reasoning was something completely unnatural for me. In high school, I was taught there is one single interpretation to every piece of writing, but coming to college, I have come to realize this is not exactly true. A true poem, as well as any piece of creative writing, needs no interpretation or thought provoking message. There is no formula—it is what it is.

As I was trying to wrap my head around this new concept, I heard these words from my professor as she continued on.

“You can prepare yourself for math and science, but it doesn’t prepare you for being human.”

Then it hit me.

We can spend our time trying to create the best new thing known to man, but even that does not change what we are: human. Whether it is writing the next acclaimed novel or creating a cure for cancer, we are all the same. We all hurt, we all fail and we all have weaknesses, but that is the beautiful part of being human.

To some degree, we all paint our lives with certain characteristics, dreams, goals and titles to make us stand out, but in the end we all are human. Just as a tree is a tree and a sparrow is a sparrow. We do not always have to separate ourselves from the rest of world. Sometimes just being is enough to enjoy the true beauty of living.

Top 5 things that will make you a better college prospect

 

It’s that time of year again, the time when applications begin flooding into colleges and universities nationwide. As you get set to do the same—or maybe more importantly, as you begin your high school career—here’s the top 5 things that will make you a better college prospect…  

5. Don’t wait until junior year.  Too many students make the grave mistake of “slacking off” during their freshman and sophomore years. Unfortunately for those students, college admissions offices don’t look the other way at those years when that happens. The first two years count, as well, so start well and finish strong.

4. Challenge yourself…smartly.  Post-secondary schools want to see that you’re taking rigorous college preparatory curriculum throughout your high school career (again, from freshman year on). However, if you’re still struggling with the definition of a function, AP Calculus probably isn’t your best bet.

3. Get involved…but not just to be involved.  It’s important to be involved in extracurricular activities, from sports, to theater, to community service organizations. Don’t, however, just join to say you’re a member. Be committed, and even strive for a leadership position or special honor within the organization, for that, too, will be looked highly upon by colleges.

2. Set yourself apart in the application process.  “Well, duh,” you might be saying, “isn’t that the whole point of this thing?” And, of course, it is. What I mean by this, though, is use your essay, letter(s) or recommendation, and all the other supplementary materials wisely. Make the individual of your application say, “Wow, this student’s different—in a good way—and we need him/her on our campus.” Who knows, maybe that’ll even help lessen the blow of that C in 10th grade English.

1. Maintain a solid academic record.  There’s obviously much more to it than this (see above), but quality grades and test scores are a critical part of the process. At most places, you won’t need a 4.3 GPA and 35 ACT, but it’s imperative to work and work throughout your high school career to make sure you are where you need to be when it comes time to start filling out those applications.

 

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

Top 5 reasons to consider a small, Christian, liberal arts university

 

Big school, or small school? That’s the question a lot of individuals face when choosing a college. And in the laundry list of factors that goes into choosing a college, size and type are often at the top in terms of importance. Here are the top five reasons to consider a small, liberal arts college or university…Art at Waynesburg University - A Christian College in Pa

5. Community.  It’s a rarity to walk anywhere on a smaller campus and not see someone you know. Sheer numbers are a big part of that, but so is the fact that everyone on campus seems to be involved in something. If you play a sport, write for the school newspaper, sing in the choir and work in the dining hall, you might be a student at one of these schools. Seems like a busy life, but the camaraderie is hard to beat at larger institutions.

4. Scholarships and financial aid.  Sure, big, public universities may have a cheaper sticker price, but when it comes to the bottom line, small schools often surprise prospective students with their affordability. The combination of scholarships and need-based institutional aid, which typically isn’t available at larger colleges, makes this possible.

3. Small classes taught by professors.  Because graduate and doctoral programs are not as prevalent at smaller liberal arts schools, often times, graduate students and teaching assistants don’t exist, and if they do, they’re not in front of the classroom. Full-time faculty members are the ones teaching the undergraduate students, and it’s almost always in a smaller setting. No 300-seat auditoriums here; you’ll know your classmates and be able to interact with them in a more intimate classroom environment.

2. Grad schools and employers value it.  As Lynn O’Shaughnessy put it in her 2010 article on cbsnews.com, “liberal arts colleges…teach kids how to think, talk and write,” and, while simple, that’s exactly what employers are looking for. Furthermore, according to O’Shaughnessy’s article, “liberal arts schools dominate the list of the top 10 institutions that produce the most students who ultimately earn doctorates.” Why is this? Graduate schools are looking for just the type of research opportunities students have at liberal arts colleges.

1. You know your professors, and they know you.  While learning from professors in small classes is great, an even bigger benefit is actually getting to know your professors on a personal level and gaining hands-on experience right alongside them. The connections you make with those individuals become invaluable as you search for graduate schools and/or employment. They’ve all been out there in the field doing the work themselves, and now they’re helping little ole you do the same.

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

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Student Blog Post: Meeeting a Greater Need

 
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I have always believed that service is an important part of society, but before my time at Waynesburg University, I had never been the type to give it. Not because I ever thought I was too good to serve, but more because I had never felt good enough to serve. Joining the Waynesburg community meant having to serve at some point during my college career, and I was anxious of how I could make a difference.

Little did I know, enrolling in service learning would change my life forever.

Having always loved animals, I chose to conduct my service work at the Humane Society of Greene County. Walking in on my first day, I had no idea what to expect.

When the director began discussing what I could do to help, I began praying they would involve no animal interaction whatsoever. In fact, on my first two days I kept busy scrubbing the inside and outside of every door in the building, setting packages of food on the shelves and working the front desk, answering phones and interacting with customers. I wanted to help the cause, but at a distance. Still, I felt my heart yearning for more.

That’s when I was approached with a new request.

The director began talking with me about some of my passions and when I mentioned photography and writing, her face lit up. With a new website and an overload of incoming animals, I was asked if I could help. I could see where the conversation was going, but I wasn’t sure I could do what she wanted me to.

Taking photographs of and writing articles about these animals meant getting up close and personal with every single one of them. It broke my heart to think I would have to see their suffering firsthand and tell them they wouldn’t find what they were looking for from me; I couldn’t give them the love and stability they were desperately searching to find.

But seeing the hope the director had, I accepted her proposition.

As I began working, I realized I had a lot to offer. I was nervous about using my gifts to serve, but God gave me the opportunity to shine and what began as a course requirement quickly developed into a passion for the greater good—helping animals find their “forever homes.”

In the words of Frederick Buechner, "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

To me, volunteering at the Human Society has not been fulfilling community service hours. It is a commitment fueled by a passion to make a difference in the lives of the animals, who can’t do it for themselves. I know I made the right decision when I walked through those doors on the first day.

I know I was led there to make a difference the best way I can—through the gifts God has provided me. I thank Him, and the staff at the shelter, for encouraging me and allowing me to find my passion for serving.

Student Blog Post: Becoming a Part of a Tradition

 

IMG 4321When I matriculated into Waynesburg University as a freshman, I had no idea what to expect. It was an uncomfortably hot day in August and the sidewalks were crowded with families and new students—hundreds of faces I didn’t know. I was terrified. Everything was about to change. I was entering the unknown with no one to catch me if I fell.

What had I gotten myself in to?

In high school, I was the girl who never quite knew where she belonged. I’ll admit, it was my own fault, really. I had kept myself guarded, unwilling to take a chance at becoming something more than who I had limited myself to be. I was afraid of rejection. In my mind, keeping at a distance meant not getting hurt, but it also meant not being able to grow.

Attending college would force me to step out of my comfort zone and I didn’t know if I was quite ready for that, but God knew what I needed and encouraged me to take the plunge.

“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56: 4 (NIV)

To my surprise, as my first weeks unfolded, I began finding comfort in my surroundings and the positive energy exuded around me. The people were welcoming. They smiled and held the door open for me, they asked me how I was doing, where I was from and what my future plans were, but most importantly, to me, they were open about their faith.

This is where I belonged.

When I attended Chapel for the first time, I was amazed to see a group of college students openly worshipping and praising God. The preconceived notions I had been fed through television shows and movies had given me an undesirable vision of what college was going to be like, but I was pleased to find things were different at Waynesburg. I could feel God’s presence in the voices of those singing and in the words outwardly spoken.

When I found Waynesburg, my walk of faith began. Ready or not, God was there, telling me this was where I needed to be. Undoubtedly, I have a ways to go before I find my life’s mission, but the seeds have been planted. God is at work in my life now more than ever, and I have Waynesburg to thank for igniting the flame.

I have no fear looking forward.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29: 11 (NIV)

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