A Christian university is much more than just a college that integrates faith into its culture; many are known for their safe environments and strong academics as well as their overall excellence.
Most schools do not have a faith requirement for admission. You may, however, be required to attend chapel or take certain religious classes.
Here are some more ways to tell if a Christian college is right for you:
1. Are you drawn to an atmosphere that focuses on the whole student?
Christian colleges generally have an infrastructure that ensures a sense of community. They have small class sizes, foster small groups and offer community-building activities. Often, professors are committed to fostering faith as much as teaching their subjects.
2. Do you want to be an environment where you feel understood and like you belong?
For many students, going to college is synonymous with parties and experimenting with risky behavior. A Christian school fosters an environment where you don’t feel different if you’re not into the party scene. Some Christian schools may even require a certain code of conduct. They may prohibit alcohol on campus and have rules about mixed genders in dormitories. This can contribute to a feeling of safety.
3. Do you want to form healthy spiritual habits during a critical time in your development?
A Pew Research Center study found that 57 percent of college graduates say they believe in God, and 47 percent say religion is important in one’s life. However, 61 percent say they seldom participate in prayer, scripture study or religious gatherings and activities. Attending a Christian college can help you form spiritual habits that will carry you into your next season of life and give you a place to explore your calling and greater purpose in life.
4. Do you have a particular program you’re interested in?
Christian schools are privately funded and may receive funds from a religious denomination or institution. This may give certain schools an advantage if they have a particular benefactor who has funded a state-of-the-art program for a school.
You’ll also have less competition within the program (whether academic or athletic) since enrollment sizes are smaller than public schools. With enrollment higher than ever in college, this can make a significant impact. In 2016, about 5.3 million students were enrolled in private colleges versus 14.6 million in public colleges – a total enrollment increase of 240 percent since 1965, according to statista.com.
You may have more opportunities to network, too. Cara Davis from Nashville, Tennessee, was interested in studying journalism and weighed the pros and cons of two schools: a public school and a small private Christian school. She liked the environment of the private school better, and it turned out to be an advantage. She was named “Rookie of the Year” her freshman year on the school newspaper and became editor her junior year. One of her professors worked at the city newspaper and helped her secure an internship her senior year. “I know without a doubt I would not have had the same opportunities if I had gone to the state school,” she said. “Going to a smaller school gave me greater experience and kickstarted my career.”
4. Do you desire to cultivate a greater purpose beyond getting a degree?
Christian colleges do many things that look beyond their campus; they hold service projects and opportunities to give back as well as offer trips that foster sharing faith with others. While you might have study-abroad programs or trips at other institutions, the Christian college will do so with faith at its core.
Azia Constance from Long Island, New York, knew that getting a broader worldview would be instrumental in her future career as a social worker. In her time at Southeastern University, Constance went on eight mission trips, which provided that expanded perspective and also allowed her to experience spirituality on a higher level. “Mission trips play a big part in the development of our students,” said Ezra Santiago Cruz, SEU Missions Director. “They love being a part of these trips, not only because of the knowledge they gain, but also the cultural encounters and personal growth they experience.”
Ultimately, Christian colleges are an excellent choice for many students, regardless of their Christian affiliation.
Still unsure what type of school is right for you? Take our quiz: What’s My Ideal Type of College?