College-bound students must take into account an amazing array of details as they finally decide where to enroll. For the Christian student, an additional characteristic should be considered—compatibility with his or her beliefs and lifestyle. My experience as a Christian college graduate and as the father of children who attend a Christian university suggests some benefits you should consider.
Relationships are an important part of any educational experience. Students away from home for the first time will find relational aspects of their education even more crucial. A Christian school is uniquely equipped to provide positive relationships for its students.
For one thing, most Christian schools are smaller. The largest may be only one tenth the size of a state’s public university. A smaller student body allows for better attention from the school’s faculty and administration. Size and the tendency of believers to watch out for one another can provide encouragement as well as accountability to a young person facing new challenges and opportunities. Certainly, a state school is interested in encouraging students, but a school with a Christian mission statement will be better equipped to meet these needs.
In addition to relationships, a Christian university or college will normally provide an atmosphere more familiar to Christian students. A non-Christian campus, especially a large one, can be quite a shock to incoming freshmen. The more wholesome environment on a Christian campus can provide just as many opportunities without all the distractions and stress. This is not to say that believers should be shut away from the world or be afraid of their neighbors. Higher education is an important job, and some students can find the flash and noise of a big college town detrimental to a good education.
A final benefit of Christian higher education is perhaps the most significant. The quality of a Christian college experience is higher than any other. Christian educators have an additional motivation to do their work with excellence—the call of Christ on their lives to do just that (I Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17). Quality may also be enhanced by the emphasis on subjects and teaching deemed by God to be of first importance. A biblical focus will inform the manner, content, and even the scope of an educational experience, and Christian schools may be less influenced by cultural (or educational) fads.
A Christian college or university should also teach from a biblical worldview. Ultimately, there is little point in attending a school that calls itself “Christian” if it does not approach all truth as being from God. This is a potential strength as well as a challenge to Christian schools. A biblical worldview will see God as the source of truth in mathematics, science, history, and all other disciplines. Christians believe that God not only made all things, but also knows them intimately. Therefore, His lordship over our studies is not limited to biblical studies.
Not all students have the same needs, not even all Christian students. For many, though, a solid Christian college or university will be the right choice. A Christian school can provide a positive educational experience and a strong biblical foundation for all the things God will call upon them to do in the years that follow.