Looking at colleges?

Here is an excerpt from an article published on Relevantmagazine.com .  The article looks at choosing a college and major, not always an easy task to undertake.  This portion is relating to “Christian Colleges” vs. “Secular Colleges”.  It is a pretty good look particularly at Christian Colleges showing both pros and cons.

This article was written by Joshua D. Pardy.  Check out the full article, “So…Now What?”


Christian schools vs. state schools

Now that you have some concrete components to determine what you want in a school, look at what type of school could serve you best. A dividing line gets drawn between Christian schools, and for our purposes let’s bundle the rest into the category of secular schools.

First off, there is no need to assume there is a large academic discrepancy between these two types of education. By and large, a Christian school is accredited by the same governing body that verifies academics at secular schools. Thus, you can get a quality education in either setting. Know that although the majority of Christian schools are accredited, not all Christian schools go through this rigorous process, so if that is something you are looking for, feel free to ask about it. However, if this is negotiable, then ask about their philosophy and perhaps what they say will harmonize with you.

The hallmark of most Christian schools is the integration of faith and learning. These institutions are private, meaning they can offer a special brand of education that is able to address spiritual and theological concerns in the classroom setting without government interference. This looks different at every school. As a general rule, you will most likely never hear one representative speak negatively about a competitor, but it is acceptable to ask what makes schools unique.

Some Christian schools require chapel attendance and theology classes, with a variance in the amount of each. Other Christian institutions require staff and faculty to be professing Christians, whereas some schools require everyone, including students, to be Christians. Missions and ministry are other highlights of a Christian education. Learning about theology, doctrine and the Gospel on deeper levels provides a firmer foundation for faith and inspires greater activity for God’s Kingdom while in school and in the future as a global citizen.

All in all, Christian schools offer great academics, but the classroom setting is where you will find major differences from the public sector. Private schools attempt to give personalized education. So you can expect to have brilliant professors teaching you day in, day out in smaller classes—most Christian schools offer a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1 or below. The benefit is a better relationship with the person teaching you and greater inspiration to work diligently. Starting friendships with professors and interacting with them outside of class will prove to be infinitely valuable.

In hearing from former students, the recurring theme is that faculty are engaged and care about their students’ development. I think this trend translates to Christian education in general. Additionally, in this regard, for many students, a Christian college is also the first time the Bible is explored in an academic setting, so this affords incredible growth potential both intellectually and spiritually.

While Christian colleges and universities may suffer from a seeming lack of notoriety, I would retort, “What’s in a name?” It is true that name recognition is important, but even though Christian schools may sometimes lack in this, it is the essence of the education that matters. Without quality education, a name is just that: a name.

Realistically, there are a few other obstacles with attending a Christian school. Funding and cultural diversity are areas where Christian schools may lag behind. Private education does cost more than public, and private, Christian education is in the upper echelon of cost. But the benefit is the size and the willingness to entertain personal cases to make funding work. At this point, it is realistic to graduate from a Christian school with some debt, so be ready to potentially cross that bridge. Funding is probably the biggest obstacle for families. If you leave a visit without knowing the cost of education and basic financial aid numbers, you have been underserved.

For too many reasons to count, Christian schools also have trouble attracting and retaining students from culturally diverse backgrounds. However, large strides are being made to serve underrepresented populations because it is representative of God’s Kingdom.

Of course you should also consider public schools. Although the environment will not be spiritually motivated, there are many options to grow spiritually in secular schools. Start a Bible study, join Campus Crusade for Christ and, most importantly, find a local church to get active in. If a spiritual climate is a dominant factor, then you will probably be uncomfortable in a secular setting, but if the options mentioned above suffice, you can attain a secular education with your faith intact—it will just require more effort.
Although choosing one door can be scary, you will discover when you walk through it, you will be presented with yet another hallway and more doors. So whether you choose a Christian institution or a secular school, know the Lord is directing your path, and if you seek Him, you will serve Him wherever you end up. What a blessing our Creator, in His infinite wisdom, gave His people the faculty of the will and gift of choice.



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