Choosing the best Christian college for you is a process that involves some soul-searching, as well as some practical considerations. You will need to research important aspects about the college, such as its doctrine, amenities, and the general outlook and attitude of the student body. Here we’ll explore some things you can do to determine if a Christian college is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better suited for a different type of Christian college.
When choosing a Christian college, it helps to narrow down your choices to those that most closely line up with your belief structure. If you are a member of a particular denomination, such as a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or Methodist, you may feel more at home at a school whose religious or theological curriculum aligns with the doctrines of that denomination. If your Christian background is non-denominational, you may wish to consider Christian colleges that do not subscribe to a particular denomination. Some Christian colleges are even considered “interdenominational,” offering a variety of Christian perspectives. Start by carefully reading the college’s statement of faith and/or mission and vision statements. This will give you an idea of the school’s roots, and will help you decide if those roots might intertwine with your own.
Another factor to be considered is the availability of chapel services, masses, or convocations on campus. Some colleges even provide live online streaming of church services or provide sermon podcasts for students taking online classes. Sermons and messages of encouragement go a long way toward nourishing your faith while you’re busy furthering your education. You may also wish to look into the availability of Christian clubs, fraternities, and sororities where you can mingle with other Christians and make lifelong friends. Last but not least, see what sorts of ministry or service opportunities might be available. Is there a group on campus that regularly serves meals at local homeless shelters, or mentors at-risk youth in neighborhood schools? Will you have the opportunity to go on short-term mission trips? Opportunities to put your faith into action often set one school apart from another.
One of the best ways to decide if a school is right for you is to pay a visit to the school’s physical campus. Not only is this is a great way to talk to actual students, ask them how they like the school, and talk to them about what it’s like taking classes there, but it’s also an opportunity to see what amenities are available. Does the school have high-quality libraries, computer labs, or study rooms where you can hit the books or conduct research for your classes? Are the residence and dining halls in good shape, clean, and appealing? What about extra perks, like a college gym where you can exercise or take a few low-cost fitness classes? These are all things that create a positive environment that can help you thrive while attend a Christian college.
Amenities like posh residence halls and gyms have their cost, however, so weigh the value of these creature comforts against the overall cost of tuition and fees. Often when colleges build new facilities, they pass those costs along to their students, so if you want to avoid excess student loan debt, you may want to decide if these amenities really matter to you.
Consider the size of the school as well. While schools with a big student population might be more prominent, many students find small class sizes beneficial for receiving one-on-one attention from professors. For other students, large, diverse classes in teaching theatres may be more comfortable, allowing you to blend in and meet a greater variety of people.
Last but not least, consider the school’s ability to meet your needs for flexibility in class delivery and scheduling. A large number of students work during daytime hours, so many students will need to take classes on evenings, weekends, or online. Working adults, stay-at-home parents, and military students in particular can benefit from Christian colleges that offer distance education options. By taking these spiritual and practical factors into consideration, you can find the best Christian college to meet your needs.