Following is a blog post by our editorial intern, Natasha, about the value of a Christian college education, a topic recently discussed in The Christian Chronicle. ACU Press offers several books on Christian higher education including: A Parent’s Guide to the Christian College, Why College Matters to God and The Christian College Phenomenon.
The world of the Christian college is dynamic and challenging. Whether your grew up with an evangelical background or not, it will push you to discover new things about yourself and the world. A Parent’s Guide to the Christian College says that most college students in this generation are,”disillusioned with traditional church activities and are not as likely to engage as readily as previous generations. The good news is that they are also very interested spiritually and are seeking means to establish their religious identities.”
As a child who grew up under a strong, Christian family heritage it was a surprising shock to me how easily my faith could be both shaken and strengthened by walking onto a Christian campus. Upon entering the classroom I had to understand quickly that learning was the expectation, not just acquiring information and gaining a degree was more about leadership then the ability to start a career. Not only was I expected to think critically, but I was challenged to ask hard questions and not always expect concrete, absolute answers.
A Christian college creates this challenging environment through many different ways. It first begins in the classroom. With smaller numbers and easily accessible professors, the level of learning is increased by the growth of relationship. Secondly, it branches out into the social atmosphere where students are able to engage one another by the smallness of the college’s size through their study groups, special activity groups, academic groups and clubs. In each of these spheres of peer influence the level of moral standard is set high for all students to follow. This expectation challenges students to examine themselves and encourage each other towards excellence. Thirdly, we can see it in the culture of the college as whole through the leadership of the faculty and staff who lead the college. These men and women are not just teachers and educators, but also mentors and shepherds, eager to shape and challenge young minds to discover for themselves the truths about the world.
Despite the push to challenges beliefs and encourage questions Christian colleges still remain grounded in their primary world view. According to Rick Ostrander in his book Why College Matters to God, “The difference between a Christian University and other institutions of higher education is this: A Christian college weaves a Christian worldview into the entire fabric of the institution, including academic life.”
So whether you are high school student with more questions than answers or an anxious parent wanting your child to encounter the best academic and spiritual education that is available, the Christian college is offering, if not answers, the foundation on which you and your child can stand on with confidence.
What about you? Did you go or are you currently attending a Christian college? What are the benefits/downsides of a Christian education?