DTS First Impressions

Friday, August 19, 2016

Because You Never Get Another Chance...

Ask anyone, first impressions are important.  When we meet someone or work with someone for the first time, it’s natural for us to want to put our best foot forward.  We hope to leave a lasting impression about who we are and the constitution of our character.

First impressions are also important outside of personal relationships.  In consumer-driven societies, companies spend millions of dollars promoting and defending their brands.  They recognize this investment will draw clients who have a need for their products.  How well a company identifies with the needs of their clients will ultimately determine the client’s satisfaction.

I had an opportunity to make my first impression on Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) during the application process.  Now, I have the opportunity to evaluate what kind of first impressions DTS made on me.

Application Process

What initially struck me about applying to DTS is the quality of their application.  It is the most in-depth and thorough application I completed of the schools to which I applied.  At a minimum, it demonstrated their commitment to confirming God’s calling for prospective students to their programs.

I interacted with three different people during the application process via email and phone and all three were very friendly, responsive, and helpful.   After submitting my application, the staff at DTS set very clear expectations on what to expect during the review process and how long it would take.

Joining the DTS Family

Once accepted, I received a number of congratulatory emails from DTS.  While this is a small and simple gesture, it never gets old and I definitely appreciated the welcoming sentiments.  A few weeks later, I also received a letter in the mail from the DTS president congratulating me on being accepted in the program and welcoming me to the DTS family.

Within a few days, I received detailed information on getting set up on CampusNet (DTS online student portal) and Canvas (student educational platform).  CampusNet is functional and easy enough to navigate although it’s a tad bit outdated in terms of design.  DTS is in the process of updating the portal to be more mobile friendly.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing those changes.

What mattered most to me, is that the same gentleman who assisted me through the application process, also worked with me to get successfully integrated into the DTS community.  This included initial advising on exactly which courses I should register for and upcoming deadlines for registration and payment.  He also included links to resources to show me how to accomplish registration.

Getting set up and integrated into the DTS community was a no hassle, stress-free endeavor.  Sure, I still have many questions, but the important stuff is taken care of and now I can start focusing on the secondary concerns.


Not too much to say here except after watching a five-minute video, I had no problems finding and registering for my first class.  I am taking BE101 – Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics as my only class for the first semester so I can get acclimated to the online learning environment.

One cool thing about registration is that I was able to download the syllabus for my upcoming class.  It contained very detailed information about the upcoming course and the general schedule.  It also contained information about the required texts which I am keen to order in advance.

Facebook Group for Incoming Students

Generally, I’m not a huge Facebook fan.  I tend to be a bit of a minimalist in terms of what I share and I really only use it to keep in touch with close friends and family.  I just never saw much use for it outside of that.

But DTS set up a closed Facebook Group for incoming students which gives me a chance to meet and talk with my incoming peers.  It has a dedicated moderator who is outstanding in quickly sharing news and responding to our questions.

I definitely learned a lot in reading the posts and comments and my mind was further eased about getting up to speed quickly.  It is also nice to know that many other people have the same concerns and questions I do.  I am not alone.

The Canvas System

Well, for new online students, this is a bit of an enigma.  I won’t have an opportunity to see my course until the weekend before the semester starts so I’m not entirely sure what to expect.  If I have any trepidation about the upcoming semester, it’s definitely around using this system.

There are some tutorials that I’ve seen through the online orientation which give me a general sense of what to expect.  But I reckon this is just going to have to be a trial by fire learning experience.

Course Previews

DTS makes online previews of many of its courses giving students and opportunity to ‘sit’ through a few classes to gauge the course and the online learning environment.

This is actually really cool.  The videos are clear and the instructor’s teaching is transcribed which allows the user to also read along.  Multimedia is seamlessly integrated into the platform from the class presentation.   Very slick integration of technology and information which is very easy to consume from an online student perspective.

One of the big ‘sells’ for me in choosing DTS was going through a few of the online course previews.  While I may still have some questions about the effectiveness of using the Canvas system for class interaction, I have zero questions about being able to learn and study from my online classes.


So far, I am having a very easy time getting settled and adjusted after joining the DTS family.  They have obviously spent a lot of time investing in the structure of their online programs and have developed an onboarding process that takes a lot of the stress out of coming into the program.

Now I can spend my time getting ready for my upcoming class.

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