Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Credentials


During my first week of orientation for my Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Austin, I overheard some of my classmates talking about their scores on the graduate requisite exam (GRE). They were talking about how they had taken the test more than once. One of the young ladies said, “I got a ___ for my score, and I knew I had to take it again because that score would never allow me to get into a good program.” When she said that, I chuckled to myself, because my score was substantially below that score she thought was no good. I kind of wanted to tell her “well I got a ___ and we both got into the same program!”

Sometimes I walk around campus, wondering, are these best and brightest students in the state of Texas? If you look at the numbers, they pretty much are some of the best and brightest. In 2008, 75% of UT freshman were in the top 10% of their high school class, 94.7% were in the top 25% of their high school class. I know I never would have been admitted out of high school, yet I do not feel like I was/am academically or intellectually inferior. The more I study in the field of learning and education, the more I realize that there is a host of variables which have a big impact on one’s academic success.

In the last part of the first chapter of the book of John, we see Jesus essentially enrolling his students. From what I have learned, it was quite common in those days for a teacher to enlist young men to follow him as a sort of internship for those who would like someday to also be teachers. Yet something that strikes me is that it does not seem that Jesus was very selective. It is almost like he just kind of said, “sure, come on, bring your brother too” when willing prospective students presented themselves.

It seems willingness may have been the most important factor Jesus required. He did not stop to give them a grammar test. He also did not seem to care about how they looked, their politics, or their parental lineage.

I can understand why institutions have selection processes, working at a community college for three years taught me about some of the difficulties associated with an open door. However, I am thankful that when it really matters, Christ wants my heart, not my credentials.

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