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Where Would Jesus Study? Choosing A Quality Evangelical Christian College Or University

 

Calling students from a myriad of backgrounds, beliefs and traditions, evangelical Christian colleges and universities seemingly create a campus of like-minded individuals intent on aligning the worlds of academia and religion. There is little wonder to this, as 76% of American adults in a 2008 national survey identified as Christian, with 44%, or 77 million Americans, calling themselves "Evangelicals". However, many people undoubtedly find themselves puzzled as to why students would choose a Christian campus, since the secular zeitgeist tends toward a separation of school and spirituality. Religious schools are thought of as breeding grounds for right-wing conservatives, producing generations of built-in church attendees happy to stay among their own kind. Recent headlines highlight this attitude, as Brown University senior Kevin Roose decided to "infiltrate" a famous Baptist university for a semester in an effort to better understand 21st century evangelical culture. Roose, like many, knew little about the learning that actually happens on intentional Christian campuses. Though the media scarcely portrays anything other than party schools, each year thousands of students choose to attend one of the hundreds of Christian higher educational institutions in the U.S., possibly in an effort to avoid the objectionable party scene. However, both ends of this discussion wrongly assume that all Christian schools are made equal. Like their secular counterparts, there are many aspects to consider when choosing the right Christian college.

Research the School's Academic Reputation

This is a rule to follow when choosing any educational institution. Does this particular school have an academic program that suits my needs? How productive is the faculty at this school? Do they provide proper academic support? School for the Christian student should not be an extension of youth group, nor a college with religious affiliation in name only. School should be intent on providing rigorous academic training in conjunction with integration of faith in the classroom. Some Christian schools require their faculty to be Christian as well. Is that an important feature to you? Some welcome faculty of all or no faith backgrounds to teach an array of different subjects. Would that make a difference in your Christian schooling experience? Academic reputation is the issue that must primarily be addressed.

Learn about the School's Religious Doctrine/Affiliation

Religious affiliation for the school can dictate their codes of conduct and view statements on numerous subjects, or it can be loosely related to how they choose to run their institution. If you find yourself highly committed to a certain doctrine then you should research how connected to a denominational affiliation the particular school is. While this information may never be fully known prior to attendance, you could talk to current students or contact a representative at the admissions office to get a better picture of the situation. One thing is for certain: it would be best to know the religious affiliation of the school before you jump right in. For some Christian students, this could turn out to be a major roadblock down the line when hot topics are discussed and administrative decisions are made that you would potentially disagree with. For others, attending an institution of a contrasting denomination could present a further learning opportunity in your Christian walk. Only you know which situation would better suit your personality. Need some essay writing service visit custom essay service

Read about the Code of Conduct/Rules and Regulations

Evangelical Christian schools run the gamut when it comes to disciplinary codes. Some will not allow students to watch PG-13 rated movies, while others would willingly play R-rated films on campus in a public forum. Some schools do not allow dancing and discourage listening to secular music while others hold multiple school dances and even hire outside DJs. Whatever your preference may be, it is vital to research the major rules before attending a Christian campus. This may be one of the hardest aspects Christian college students struggle with. Each school has a different way of dealing with offenders, varying from extremely strict to very lenient. However, there is no doubt that an intentional Christian university will have a set of rules that is quite different from that of a secular school. Know what your limitations are when it comes to authoritative control. Would you mind attending a required number of chapels? Do you care if your school holds dances? Would you be willing to undergo routine room checks? Remember, the code of conduct and the enforcement of that code often sets the campus atmosphere. If you desire a more monitored campus, choose a school that does not believe in leniency when enforcing the rules. If freedom is what you want, look into schools that have a set of codes you think would be appropriate for a Christian institution to instate.

Visit the Campus

Another key rule to follow when choosing any school is to visit the campus (if this is possible). First, you can explore the geographic location of the campus. If you love nature and hate the city, then blindly accepting a school in the middle of Philadelphia might not work out quite asplanned. Make sure you know the geographic surrounding. Next, visiting in person provides you with an opportunity to explore the campus first hand. Virtual tours are great but they can never replace your direct encounter with the people and buildings on campus (and, not to mention, with the food served in the cafeteria). Are the people friendly and genuine? Could see yourself living here for the next few years? Is the campus as diverse as you would like it to be (i.e., racially, denominationally, diversity of on-campus activities, gender ratio, etc.)? Also, if you can strike up a conversation with current students and/or faculty about the religious atmosphere of the school, this should help you greatly in your decision-making process. Ask about the range of speakers they invite to talk with students. Ask about the religious opportunities on and off-campus. Do the students attend services off-campus? How are religious disagreements dealt with? Is community service emphasized? This is just a general idea of questions you can pose to the people you encounter during your visit.

Choosing any college is a lofty task, and choosing the right Christian institution can make the situation more precarious. Remember to research (research, research!) before you apply, and don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions to the admissions counselors and current students. After all, this is the place where so much of your spiritual growth will potentially occur. You want this institution to challenge you academically and spiritually. When you graduate, you should be able to walk away with a wealth of knowledge both about your topic of interest and your relationship with God. Christian institutions can be wonderful, calm places of study for those seeking such an environment. In the end, be sure to pray and involve God in this wonderful decision-making process.

References

Boorstein, Michelle. "15 Percent of Americans Have No Religion." The Washington Post [Washington, D.C.] 9 Mar. 2009, A04 sec.

Kosmin, Barry A., and Ariela Keysar. "American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS)". Rep. Mar. 2009. Trinity College.

Tucker, Eric. "Ivy Leaguer 'infiltrates' Falwell's Conservative Liberty University." USA Today. 23 Apr. 2009. Associated Press