Choosing a college is one of the most important choices a person makes in life. Where you go to college can have a profound influence that lasts a lifetime. Characteristics such as academic excellence, internships, school size, location, career opportunities, quality of faculty, variety of programs, extra-curricular activities, etc. can be found in both secular and Christian schools. Why should you consider enrolling at a Christian college?
According to the US Department of Education, Christian colleges grew over 70% from 1990 to 2004. During that same period of time, all independent four year schools grew 28% and public four year institutions grew about 13%. The growth marks a turnaround from the 1960s and 1970s, when religious colleges struggled to attract students. About 120 religious colleges closed between 1960 and 1979. Four religious colleges, including the first Buddhist college, have opened in the United States since 2001. Why is there such growth at Christian colleges?
Observers cite multiple reasons. Money is one factor. Religious denominations help contain tuition increases through subsidies often ranging from $1 to $3 million a year.
A common reason is that students who practice a faith often want to study where their beliefs are respected. That can be hard to find on secular campuses. There is a sense that the people who dominate the faculties at secular universities have an antipathy toward traditional religion. Students want to go to a place where they don’t have to defend their beliefs. Secular educators dispute the notion of a climate inhospitable to religion.
Some think that Christian colleges merely offer a “safe haven”, a place that is separated from the real world. Generally speaking, everyone within a Christian college environment is concerned with seeing the student develop in all areas of life. They don’t believe they are shielding students from the real world, but teaching them life skills based on faith
A Christian college offers more than just the “addition” of Christian beliefs to the educational experience. Christian faith is not an “extra” at Christian colleges, it is a critical element woven into the college experience. The Christian dynamic is evident not just in church, but also while eating pizza in the dorms, during moral and theological debates, and during conversations about ethics. The Christian component is noticeable in more places than the classroom. Christian colleges offer life preparation. Christian colleges are in a unique position to honestly address the spiritual and moral issues that people of every age face every day. Christian colleges can offer all of the same opportunities as a secular college, but within a Christian context. Christian colleges believe this is where the student becomes more prepared to impact and live within our world.
A Christian education is not for everyone. One out of two Christian students at secular colleges and universities will discard their faith by the time they finish their undergraduate degree. Students attending a Christian college are usually very strong in their faith. If you are debating whether to attend a secular or Christian college, consider a few things to help you to figure out how you may do in a non-Christian environment:
If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, you should consider enrolling at a different institution. Your faith may be vulnerable.
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