Choosing a college can be a stressful experience. There are many different institutions students can choose from — public or private, Christian or secular, two-year or four-year. As you make your decision, consider what each school has to offer and how it will meet your needs. In particular, attending a Christian college comes with many benefits that can help you thrive throughout your education and even after you graduate. Consider the following as you choose the college you wish to attend.
Christian or Secular: What’s the Difference?
Christian and secular colleges are similar in the academics they offer. Like secular colleges, faith-based institutions offer programs in business, liberal arts, science, and other academic areas. Students go through similar steps to gain admission and take many of the same classes, regardless of the institution’s statement of faith.
In addition, Christian colleges seek accreditation just like secular colleges. They go through the same steps to earn it, such as self-evaluation and site visits, and they only earn accreditation if they demonstrate that they adhere to a high standard of education. Many Christian colleges also have specialized accreditation for their individual programs, as administered by agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
The main difference between Christian and secular colleges is the availability of theological programs (some of which are often required for students at Christian institutions). Unlike traditional colleges, Bible colleges offer programs in ministry, divinity, Christian counseling, and pastoral studies. If you want to enroll in one of those programs, then you may want to choose a Christian college.
Typically, if you attend a Christian college, you will take classes in theology, even if it is not your major. However, as with traditional colleges, you will still have the freedom to choose the classes that you want to take, as long as you meet your degree plan requirements.
Why Should I Attend a Christian College?
Even if you don’t want to major in a field like theology or ministry, attending a Christian college comes with many benefits that can make it a strong choice for pursuing higher education. Specifically, Christian colleges tend to be smaller than many secular colleges. The student-to-faculty ratio therefore tends to be low, which allows instructors to focus on students’ individual needs.
Christian colleges also offer students the opportunity to worship without having to worry about feeling ostracized for their beliefs. Students attend with peers who share their values, which allows them to feel comfortable when it comes to expressing their faith.
In addition, students have access to clubs, activities, and extracurricular programs that celebrate God and promote worship. Christian colleges also have strong mentor programs, where a faculty member or senior classmate provides help and support for students who are transitioning to college.
What Will I Learn From a Christian College?
A Christian education is a lot like a traditional education. As a student, you take classes in your major area of study, as well as electives and support classes that will make you into a well-rounded individual, which will help prepare you for your future career.
However, there is one big exception. Unlike secular colleges, Christian colleges can help you develop strong values that you can carry with you throughout the rest of your life. By studying the Bible and learning about Christian principles, you will develop yourself both morally and spiritually.
Many Christian colleges also give students the option of participating in service projects and mission trips that let students use their skills and knowledge to help the less fortunate. Christian colleges therefore help students expand their worldview and teach them about ways they can give back to the community and help those in need.
What Will My Future Employers Think?
Some students worry that graduating from a Christian college will make it difficult to get hired, but that is a misconception. On the contrary, many employers favor students who have graduated with a Christian education because those graduates often come from backgrounds that encouraged strong ethics and honesty. Students who were involved in Christian extracurricular activities can stand out among the pool of applicants for positions, too, because they often have more extensive experience in working with people and using their communication skills. Likewise, graduate schools will focus on your grades and your school’s accreditation instead of its particular faith.
Can I Be Myself at a Christian College?
Contrary to popular belief, Christian colleges do not seek to fit students into carefully constructed molds. They want students to bring their unique and diverse backgrounds and ideas to help enhance the learning experiences that they will receive. Most Christian colleges want to bring people together to celebrate their differences. As a result, one of the most important benefits of a Christian education is the chance to meet students from a variety of homes and cultures who share the same spiritual and academic goals.