Kaleb Turner is chief editor of The Tiger, a student published newspaper out of Pangburn High School. We are proud to feature this aspiring young journalist in this edition of The Sun-Times.

Editor’s note:  Kaleb Turner is chief editor of The Tiger, a student published newspaper out of Pangburn High School. We are proud to feature this aspiring young journalist in this edition of The Sun-Times.

In a recent interview to inform seniors on the precautions and precursors to take when preparing for college, I sat down with Dr. Bruce McLarty, the president of Harding University, to see what he recommends for students eager and anxious to start their freshmen year of college.

McLarty attended high school in Tennessee and college at Harding in 1975 where he studied Bible. Later he attended the Harding School of Theology in Memphis. Upon graduating, he started his work in ministry where he preached at the College Church of Christ in Searcy beginning in 1991. He adds that he knew “from the 5th grade” that he wanted to go into ministry. McLarty preached at the College Church of Christ for 14 years then started his work at Harding where he served as the Vice President of Spiritual Life and Dean of the College of Bible. McLarty describes the position as dean as a “great opportunity to learn about the academic world of Harding.” He would later become President of Harding after the retirement of longtime President Dr. Burks. Dr. McLarty says he has enjoyed sharing his freshmen year with the freshmen class at Harding.

As a college administrator looking in on freshmen in college, McLarty says, “they are learning at a high pace and becoming more independent.” He later adds that he sees the most change in students from the beginning of their college freshmen year to the end of their freshmen year. McLarty advises high school seniors going into college to spend your first year finding yourself, exploring what you are interested in, and “number one, to relax.” In looking back on his freshmen year at Harding, he notes that is intriguing to see “how the world comes together.” Speaking on behalf of Harding, there are students from 45 foreign countries of which 170 are Chinese students, and there are 8 international study programs. All in all, college is a place to see the world outside of high school.

Dr. McLarty says that most students learn their best college experiences through crashing. Whether or not you try to balance your social life, your academics, and your sleep, he says you will mostly learn how to manage that by failing and learning from your mistakes. With that in mind, however, he does advise to get as much sleep as possible due to the amount of work required of you in college. McLarty referred to a theory from the head of the history department at Harding in discussing how to manage your college life. “There are two kinds of people,” says McLarty, “those who did well, and those who didn’t do well, and to those who didn’t do well, we must see why.” In summary, there is a reason for most things that happens in college and if you can find those reasons, you’ll have a much better chance at managing your life at college. 

One fundamental skill Dr. McLarty says to acquire in life is “the ability to express yourself verbally and through writing.” He says this skill is important in all areas of life and can determine the impression you leave on people.

When I asked Dr. McLarty the most frequently debated topic among those entering college, dorm life or staying at home, he says his opinion is a bit biased to an on campus dorm life because of the great opportunities Harding offers to students on campus. “At Harding, we offer wonderful weekend life to those on campus,” states McLarty, “and of the 150 students who qualified to live off campus at Harding, the majority of them chose to stay on campus because of the benefits of it.”

With one final word of advice, Dr. McLarty says “speaking as the president of a faith based college, to develop a spiritual core of your life.” McLarty mentions that in a recent meeting with 5 executive Vice President’s of Walmart, that the executives always hire Harding students in their executive offices being they are trained in character and have developed a “why” for their life. McLarty humbly adds that in a society where college is seen as a time of “drunkenness and recklessness,” the world is crying out for students trained in character and who have developed a spiritual core for their life.

In a short conclusion, it was an honor to interview President McLarty. In my opinion, his character and integrity should urge all students to heed his advice with utmost respect and priority.