You’ve seen the movies (think American Pie or 21 Jump Street), heard the rumors, perhaps even talked to friends: the general consensus is that colleges are cesspools of debauchery. While this may be true of some schools, the reality is that most universities don’t have that reputation. Every school does, however, have a unique campus culture. Finding the right school for you extends beyond academics and tuition costs. Whether you live on campus or off, are part-time or full-time, you will be spending the majority of the next four years around the faculty, students and campus of your university. The culture they create matters.
Consider the elements of daily life that are important to you as you enter college. Are you looking for a school that protects, encourages and promotes diversity? Perhaps you desire an emphasis on an outdoor lifestyle, intramural sports, or maybe faith-based programs are essential to your ideal college experience. If you choose to be a commuter student, your school’s access to resources and part-time student community is an important thing to consider. How much emphasis does the school place on life outside of the classroom, and how will that impact you?
The faith foundation of a school also plays a significant role in campus culture. Christian universities aim to teach Biblical core values in the classroom while also encouraging each student on their spiritual journey. This is reflected in different campus opportunities including chapel, worship services, community outreach and even mission trips. Several studies done in the past few decades have shown a significant number of Christian students, somewhere between 50% and 70% depending on the study, will step away from their faith during college. According to an Assemblies of God study in 2007, those stepping away from their faith largely attend non-christian universities.
Whether or not the differences between a secular and Christian campus will impact you is an individual matter. Many Christians attend non-religious universities due to lower tuition costs or access to academic opportunities and come out the other end thriving. Thanks to campus ministries, finding an opportunity to explore and profess your faith is not just limited to Christian schools. However, if a culture of faith and pursuing your degree with a Biblical understanding and approach is important to you, then exploring Christian schools is a great place to begin your search. Don’t discount the value of the culture you will find yourself in on a daily basis.