Seminarians Speak

How to Succeed at Seminary

Author: 
Fr. Herman Fields

The Rev. Herman Fields graduated as the valedictorian of St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s Class of 2019. On his blog page, which he set up as a student to facilitate information sharing between other seminarians and community members, Fr. Herman recently imparted how he succeeded during his studies at St. Vladimir’s.

Father Herman, his wife, Khouria Anna, and their two children are moving to Canada following graduation to serve a parish in Saskatchewan.


As my time at St. Vlad’s is coming to a close, I was asked by a student who is arriving next year how you become valedictorian at St. Vlad’s.  I replied, “Tip #1 is that you should have a BA in Theology and do the St. Stephen’s course before you get here!”

I said that because, while I did work very hard, I don’t really feel that the playing field was level. Some students come here never having studied theology, and they manage to graduate with distinction. I had a bit advantage having already studied so much. So while I was honored to be valedictorian, there might be plenty of people who worked harder than I did. But here are Fr. Herman Fields’ tips for doing well in seminary:

When I was an undergrad, my grades improved immensely when I got married. I was doing my school work on a 9-5 schedule and didn’t fool myself into thinking that I could do quality work starting at 10 p.m.

If you take advantage of every minute of non-class time during the day, avoiding as much as possible the time-wasting but oh-so-fun opportunities to just sit and talk to people about nothing in particular, you will get more done than if you’re up ‘till 3 a.m. Even if you only have an hour (say your class gets out early and you have extra time before your next activity) take an hour and read one article, or write that one little tiny assignment you’ve been putting off. The best work I ever did was when I knew that I only had 45 minutes or an hour to work. There’s a saying in Swedish, “many small streams become a river.” It applies here! No matter what your family situation is, if you use your time consistently with discipline you will get more done in less time.

I used Google Calendar and had all my classes and chapel times blocked out. Sometimes I even put deadlines in the calendar. I don’t think I ever missed a deadline, or at least not by mistake.

And get some sleep! Get a minimum of 7 hours per night. If you’re sleep deprived your work will be much less efficient and you won’t remember what you’re reading.

Read the rest of Fr. Herman’s advice on his blog page, here.

Previous Seminarians Speak articles:

Title Author Date
How to Succeed at Seminary Fr. Herman Fields June 3, 2019
A Seeing Human Being: Seminarian Sophia Theodoratos on ‘Sensing Christ and Gaining Sight’ Pradeep Hatcher May 13, 2019
The Wounded Healer interviews Seminarian Dan Bein Pradeep Hatcher November 13, 2018
To come to seminary is special Charles Youngblood September 24, 2018
A Treasury of Blessings in the Pearl of Africa Amal Punnoose June 28, 2018
From Gulu, Uganda to North America, to Guatemala Simon Menya June 30, 2017
Wife of New Seminarian Reflects on “Roaring Good Time” Destinie Winn, wife of Seminarian Jarod Winn June 14, 2017
Welcoming the stranger… Herman Fields February 17, 2017
Students Take Part in IOCC Build Antwian Davis January 23, 2017
A Song of Truth and Worship Sandy Hermansen May 5, 2016
Through the Cross, Joy Andrew and Melissa Cannon April 5, 2016
Romanian Student Discovers New Horizons at St. Vladimir's Alexandru Popovici March 27, 2016
Living the Gospel: Seminarian, Alumnus Join IOCC New Orleans Project Team Erik Potter March 7, 2016
Go to Seminary Now? Christopher Moore March 2, 2016
Led by God's Hand Lauren Pulley February 16, 2016
From Gulu, Uganda to Yonkers, New York: Seminarian Simon Menya's Report Simon Menya February 4, 2016
Changed by His Grace Thomas Totonchy January 18, 2016
Article Profiles Seminarian and Iconographer Seraphim O'Keefe Alan Pell Crawford December 30, 2015
A Whole New World Alex Mackoul December 15, 2015
Pursuing an Infinite God: a journey of the mind and the heart Peter Mansour October 23, 2015
Four Things I’ve Learned (So Far) Fr. Theophan Whitfield September 28, 2015
The Way of a Pilgrim Abraam Mikhail June 22, 2015
Sowing Seeds, Reaping Blessings: A Mission Trip to Kenya Shawn Thomas May 21, 2015
"Glory be to Thee who hast shown us the light..." Rami Dahdal May 14, 2015
In Pursuit of a Focusing of the Faith Nikita Andrejev March 16, 2015
To Lead, We Must Learn How to Serve Fr. Mark Vair February 10, 2015
At the National Festival of Young Preachers Tristan Gall January 9, 2015
The Saints John Mikitish December 16, 2014
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... Lijin Raju November 19, 2014
Transfiguration Seraphim Long October 16, 2014
What I Did This Summer Dn. Theodor Svane September 23, 2014
Restoring the Western Rite Ian Abodeely August 14, 2014
"Delicately Perched": An Armenian Student's End-of-year Insights Kathryn Ashbahian May 7, 2014
The Vocation of Fatherhood Joshua Trant April 2, 2014
A Unique Orthodox Community Experience Dn. Shiryl Mathai March 10, 2014
The Festival of Young Preachers, 2014 Fr. Gabreil Alemayehu February 14, 2014
The Road to Hospital Chaplaincy Beryl Knudsen February 4, 2014
How Many are Your Works, O Lord! Bogdan Neacsiu December 5, 2013
Oregon and New York, Farm and Seminary Ashli Moore October 23, 2013
Reflections on a New Academic Year Sandro Margheritino September 24, 2013
Our Common Love Gabrielle Kushlan March 19, 2013
We Are Being Formed Daily Jabra Tannous November 26, 2012
Serving with His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch Richard Ajalat October 29, 2012
A Life in Christ Under Guard Harrison Basil Russin September 25, 2012
For a Monastic, Seminary Life Seems "Ideal" Monk James March 13, 2012
Embracing All Who Suffer Loss: Seminarians Train for Post-Abortion Counseling Seminarian Dn. David Wooten March 8, 2012
Marching Peaceably, Praying Mightily Seminarian Dn. David Wooten January 26, 2012
"I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt 25:37) Adam Horstman March 14, 2011
Bless These Waters: Theophany at SVOTS David Wooten January 14, 2011
Feasting before the Fast, Thanksgiving at SVOTS Sarah Bracey-Johnson November 22, 2010
"It's Worth It": Reflection on "Ed Day" Andrew Boyd October 29, 2010
"I (used to) Play in a Rock Band" Jamey Bozeman September 16, 2010
St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Upward Call Fr. Lucas Rice July 19, 2010
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