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Student Soldiers: Attending College While Serving in the Military

by Thomas Lee

With its proximity to Fort Bragg and its extensive ROTC program, Methodist University could be considered in many ways an “army school.” Because of this, a number of Methodist students were non-traditional – soldiers who were stationed on base or local residents who attended classes at night.

I certainly respect but do not envy the life of a soldier. Not only must many of them balance classes and family life, but a military career is considerably more difficult than an office job. They must be in peak physical condition and reliably meet the demands of their commanding officers, as well as other supervisors both on and off base. Their usual days can be exhaustive, with schedules consisting of morning training and exercises, day classes, personal errands, night classes and then family duties. Since my time at Methodist, I have gained a greater respect for soldiers and military families and all they manage to accomplish.

There are practical benefits to being a student soldier. Depending on one’s status, the U.S. government may pay most – if not all – tuition costs. Soldiers and their families also have medical and dental care provided by the military. Attaining a degree while in the service may mean a pay increase or advance in rank. Despite experiencing difficulties the average college student will not face – imagine being in class one morning and receiving deployment orders that night – all of the student soldiers I met had one thing in common: They were deeply proud to be part of the military and of having been able to faithfully serve their country.

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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Don’t Object to Pre-Law Classes

by Thomas Lee

My major was political science but I took some pre-law classes in preparation for law school. Taking pre-law classes or attaining a pre-law minor looks great on a law school application; if you’re interested in taking this path, here’s what you can expect.

My pre-law classes included Constitutional Law, Intro to Law and Criminal Justice. Students participated in mock trials during Criminal Justice class, which involved class members acting out the various roles portrayed in a real trial. I played one of the witnesses and had to field a series of questions from the defense and prosecution. I found it to be a very enriching experience and gained a better understanding of what legal proceedings really involve.

While I did not pursue a pre-law minor – and somewhat regret not doing so – I am still glad I took pre-law classes in order to gain at least a basic background of the legal system. I also wish I had taken a class entitled Legal Research and Writing, as I found it would have gotten me on the fast track to an internship. When deciding what classes to take, keep in mind which classes will advance your career the most and opt for those ones over fluff courses.

Pre-law classes will also prepare you for the Law School Admission Test, aka the LSAT. It works similarly to the SAT or ACT, as it is used to determine your aptitude for success in law school and is a requirement for admittance to most law schools. I have already taken the LSAT and scored a decent 149 out of 180, but a score of at least 160 is considered an achievement for the schools I’m interested in. Because of this, I am in the process of studying and plan to retake the LSAT this October.

Once I achieve the score I desire, it’s law school application time. Then, it’s three more years of schooling, countless hours of research, a few internships and a passing score on the bar exam until I can achieve my goal of becoming a civil lawyer and eventually running for political office. Wish me luck!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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Debate – It’s Great!

August 1, 2011

Debate – It’s Great!

by Thomas Lee

My time spent on the Methodist University Debate Team was varied and interesting, a very worthwhile college experience overall. Considering joining your school’s debate team? Here’s some info to help you decide.

Debate styles and campus rules vary widely. Some schools use policy debate, which consists of large amounts of research, as opposed to parliamentary debate, which allows only 15 minutes of preparation time to come up with an opening argument based on existing knowledge. The type of debate we used was parliamentary debate, which consists of being given a pro or con on a certain issue and going intervening rounds with your partner against another two-person team. It seems easy at first but the short time in each round forces you to really polish your argument. In other words, debate is easy to learn but difficult to perfect.

All three and a half years I debated for Methodist, I received a $1,000 scholarship per semester for participating so it worked out pretty well for me financially; other campuses may even offer full scholarships depending on the terms and conditions, although campuses with serious scholarship money teams often require equally serious dedication and work. The Methodist University Debate Team was relatively laidback compared to how some teams operate but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fulfilling experience. I got to meet some great people as well as learned valuable debate skills...you know, for the real world. You will, too, if you join!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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Learning to Live Off Campus

by Thomas Lee

Sometimes on-campus living is not an option. Dorms are too expensive or overfilled, or housing may not be provided to transfer students. Well, off-campus housing it is!

One of most efficient ways to live off campus is to find a friend, relative or even a parent’s friend who lives near the campus to see if they would allow you to stay with them. If you choose this option, make sure the person you’re renting from writes up a signed agreement that lists the duration of your stay, the set fee per week or month and the conditions to stay. A verbal agreement isn’t set in stone and may leave you without housing if something should go wrong.

Another option is finding an apartment but this may be even more expensive than a dorm. Apartment and condominium rates vary wildly, as so do their living conditions. If you find an apartment that fits your budget, make sure it’s in a reasonably safe part of town and read your lease or contract so you won’t be cheated by the landlord.

Off-campus living also may have stipulations not necessarily found in an on-campus dormitory. Make sure you fully understand the terms and agreements your friend or landlord and don’t assume you can do things you may have normally done at home. Loud music, wild parties and maybe even leaving the toilet seat up are grounds for eviction. If you’re living with a friend, he or she may also expect you to help out with buying groceries or cooking.

One way to cut down on the costs of off-campus living is find a group of friends or roommates and share rent in a large apartment or leased house. Again, a written contract signed by all members is the best way to protect your and your friends’ interests. Be sure to keep your dreams of finally being away from your parents from turning into nightmares!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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What Are My Housing Options?

by Thomas Lee

There are many options for living on or off campus but what’s the best housing option for you?

The most common housing option for a full-time day college student is an on-campus dormitory. As a freshman, I was permitted to join a program called “First Year Experience” or FYE. FYE was for incoming freshmen who had a 3.0 or above grade point average and filled out an application in advance. I stayed in a nice suite-style, co-ed dorm called Pearce Hall but not all on-campus accommodations are this cushy: The following year, I stayed in an all-male dorm where the conditions weren’t all that great but it was less expensive. As an upperclassman, you may have access to on-campus apartments. Here, you could have your own bedroom and restroom and a shared kitchen and living space but this option is usually the most expensive on-campus choice. You just need to decide what’s more important: paying more for a newer dormitory or saving by living in an older residence hall or living with both sexes versus just one.

Off-campus housing is another option, which, like on-campus apartments, is popular among upperclassmen. I rented a room for three months at a house leased by one of my fraternity brothers during a summer semester and can tell you this option isn’t for everybody. Before deciding to live off-campus, make sure you have an agreed upon price with a signed and printed contract so that you aren’t cheated out of any money; this is especially important if you are paying rent to a friend if you want to preserve your relationship. More than a few college students fall prey to rent gouging or don’t carefully read their apartment contract – don’t be one of them!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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Students Who Care: Campus and Community Volunteering

by Thomas Lee

One of the best ways to get involved on campus is to show you care by giving something back through student volunteering. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to do this. What’s best for you?

One way is to get involved with organized campus projects such as campus clean-up or even landscaping. Many colleges have some kind of “Show You Care” day that allows students to help with minor projects. Another way is to plan your own project and present it to campus ministry, student government or another student body that would be willing to help. One group of students at Methodist and volunteered to go around to the dorms and take out other students’ trash. Another group fed pizza to the cafeteria workers. I was involved with “Show You Care” day by helping move rocks and dirt to fill in a ditch for a walkway bridge and also helped remove fallen trees and branches from a family’s yard that had been struck by a tornado.

Another way to show you care is fundraising. Several student organizations have fundraisers for charitable causes. My fraternity, Kappa Sigma, raised money for the Fallen Heroes Campaign, a donation network for the families of soldiers killed in combat. Members of student ministry on my campus became mentors for Young Life, evangelistic outreach for at-risk high school students. The international students conducted several fundraisers for global causes such as conflict relief and stopping hunger. They even had their own campus club devoted solely toward charitable causes called Economics Anonymous.

If you want to be involved in the community but not necessarily in ministry or charity, another way is campaign volunteering. Campaigning for local candidates combined with student volunteering is a great way to build your resume and social network, as well as maybe help you get a date!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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The Politics of Student Government and Greek Council

by Thomas Lee

In my last article, I mentioned some of my experiences with college political parties and gave a little advice on how to choose one. While the two main choices are College Democrats or College Republicans, there are other ways one can get politically motivated on campus.

One way is joining Student Government Association or SGA as it is called at many schools. SGA is a student-led body that usually has a president and senators who help make operational or financial decisions that affect student life. I was an SGA senator my sophomore and junior years and helped plan the budget on the financial committee. SGA was allotted a certain amount of money from the main budget every three-month grant period and the finance committee would then receive proposals from all the organizations and departments on campus requesting money for specific functions. SGA then usually granted money to campus functions and student events that would promote campus life. It wasn’t a perfect process, but when has politics ever been?

Although it might not seem political at first glance, campus Greek life also plays a large role in making decisions that impact non-Greek students. At Methodist University, we instituted a Greek Council my junior year, as there ended up being a total of two fraternities and two sororities by the time I graduated. Greek Council was a governing body made of members from all four groups. They helped promote SGA events and raised money for community causes, such as helping soldiers. Ultimately, Greek Council influenced the university board of directors to approve the construction of a four-house Greek village. Academic Greek clubs such as Alpha Chi also may help in campus and community service.

So just because you don’t identify as a donkey or an elephant doesn’t mean you still can’t rock the vote on your campus!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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College is a Real (Political) Party

by Thomas Lee

As a day-to-day college student, the political arena may not be the first thing on your mind, unless you’re a political science major like me. But even if you aren’t, joining a college political group is a good way to get involved in the campus and local community.

I was a member of College Republicans and am also a registered Republican. My first foray into the political arena was putting in 20 hours of phone banking as required by my Electoral Process class. I went to the Fayetteville Republican Party office each weekend and spent a few hours making survey calls to find out who would vote for John McCain in 2008. It wasn’t glamorous (except for the Election Day party!) but it was a great way to network with other students and state and local candidates. The following year, our group focused on campaigning for NC Republican Senator Richard Burr and the NC State House of Representatives candidate Lou Huddleston. I frequently met at schools and other community outlets to hold signs, give out t-shirts and shake hands. I even had the opportunity to meet Senator Burr and many other state candidates in person.

If you’re considering joining a college political club, make sure it corresponds with your own beliefs and interests and doesn’t try to shape you into something you’re not. Although as far as mainstream campus groups go, your main choices are College Republicans and College Democrats and only one of those groups may have a presence at your campus. Just like voting, make an informed decision before you decide to commit to anything so your fellow members won’t see you as insincere or indecisive...like a politician.

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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College Challenges and How to Overcome Them

by Thomas Lee

The practical hassles of everyday life can become a problem for college students used to living at home. I learned this the hard way my freshman year when simple tasks like doing the laundry became a chore.

My freshman dorm only had two washers and dryers per hallway. A week’s worth of laundry quickly became an insurmountable pile because I couldn’t find a free washer. My parents suggested using a Laundromat but that costs extra money which a student may or may not have. The trick was for me to pick a specific time of the week where the laundry room would be mostly free and stick to it. Washing on Sunday afternoon when most students were not in the dorm became my weekly ritual.

The most difficult part of day-to-day college life for me was car trouble. Throughout all four years, gasoline prices were roughly around $3 a gallon and today show no signs of dropping. If you have a car on campus, the best thing you can do is hope to get a decent paying job and minimize your driving to only what is necessary. Another option is establishing a good network of friends and carpooling to save both time and money. Another major cost for me was car repair. I shelled out hundreds of dollars for a single repair, as well as an incident in which I was towed after having a flat tire. One rule of thumb (although this may differ by region) is to hook a white t-shirt or plastic bag to your window if your car breaks down as a distress signal to avoid towing for two days.

The best general advice I can give for college life is make smart, rational, common sense decisions. And don’t give in to peer pressure. But perhaps that is a story for another time.

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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Don’t Avoid Drama in College – Embrace It!

Why You Should Consider Participating in College Theatre

June 22, 2011

Don’t Avoid Drama in College – Embrace It!

by Thomas Lee

I first began theatre in high school playing the role of Mr. Gibbs in the play “Arsenic and Old Lace” and then I was an extra in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” In college, I did not necessarily plan to perform theatre since I was a political science major but I auditioned my freshman year because I couldn’t resist the allure.

I ended up playing some country hick in a skit play called “Talking With...And Moving On” and appeared on stage again as an extra in the spring musical “The Robber Bridegroom.” In my junior year, I was an extra in a musical about evangelist John Wesley called “Ride! Ride!” This production was particularly time consuming and contributed nothing to my major; after the show ended, so did my college theatre career.

Even though I was a political science major, I had always found the stage interesting and mainly auditioned for roles for the fun of it. I did gain some experience in stage construction, time management skills and, of course, performance. I also received one semester hour of theatre class credit for my first freshman role.

College theatre can be an enthralling experience even if you are not a theatre, performing arts or music major. The key is to know if the time necessary for stage practice will cut too much into class or study time. I learned how to better manage my studying and homework, as I had to schedule it around rehearsal.

If you are considering becoming involved in all that college drama, here are a few guidelines:

  1. Always be early to practice.
  2. Always pay attention to instructions.
  3. Always take part in stage construction and destruction.
  4. If you plan to quit, quit early.
  5. Make sure practice doesn’t ruin your grades.

If you can abide by these simple rules, then maybe you’re ready for the art of the stage!

Thomas Lee recently graduated from Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina with a BA in political science and journalism. His father is an ordained Church of God minister and his mother is a private school teacher; he also has two younger sisters. Thomas’ interests include politics, law, debate, global issues and writing fiction and he believes in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and a strong commitment to biblical morality and ethics. He currently resides in Washington, North Carolina and will be attending law school in the near future.


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