Why Choose a Christian College?

by
Vice President for Enrollment Management, Messiah College

To learn, to grow, to explore, to change the world

With so many ideas about what constitutes a “Christian college,” it is easy to understand why we spend so much time attempting to differentiate our distinct brand of higher education from the others. Do we define a Christian college by a church affiliation? Maybe, but it is more than that. Is it defined by the opportunities for service and worship? Again, perhaps in part, but it is still more than that.

According to a 2009 Market Research study conducted for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), “CCCU students as a group are highly satisfied with their educational experiences, and CCCU schools rate significantly higher in satisfaction than private institutions nationally in many areas.” The great news is this satisfaction is not limited to academic quality or spiritual formation, but encompasses many enriching aspects of life at a Christian college.

To learn

In head-to-head competition with public and private colleges and universities, many Christian colleges rank on par or better than their private/public counterparts. In 2010, 12 Christian colleges ranked among the top 10 schools in their respective region, according to U.S.News & World Report’s annual college issue. Christian colleges also continue to rank high for affordability, academic excellence, and extracurricular activities—by U.S.News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Many Christian colleges are graduating Rhodes, Fulbright, Carnegie, Truman, and Udall Scholars and have students/alums who earn scholarships and awards from organizations like the National Science Foundation.

With a broad range of majors available in the liberal and applied arts and sciences, application of faith to every major (from business to biology, dance to politics, nursing to engineering), classroom experiences in the context of the Christian faith, and Christian faculty who are often well-known experts in their fields, students at Christian Colleges can have a rich experience in the classroom and beyond.

To grow

Chapel provides insightful internal and external speakers while facilitating times of worship and prayer, but deep spiritual formation at a Christian college extends far beyond required chapel attendance. Living in a community and abiding by a statement of faith that reflects the shared values and behavioral expectations of that community are important aspects of life at a Christian college. Many students enjoy learning about a variety of theological traditions and demonstrating their faith through service, outreach, creation care, and the arts. Ultimately, it is about developing and embracing a faith that is uniquely yours.

To explore

In the 2010 Washington Monthly baccalaureate college rankings—ratings based on their contribution to the public in three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country), four of the colleges in the top 10 are Christian. Several Christian colleges have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, recognition of a college’s commitment and achievement in community service efforts.

Many Christian colleges offer robust study abroad programs, demonstrating that learning on campus is often more about engaging culture than living in a bubble! Don’t forget excellent athletics, including several national championship teams. Christian colleges prove that winning and character development do not have to be at odds. Many Christian colleges also provide enriching experiences in the arts. At many colleges one will find opportunities to partner with local/regional/international arts organizations, symphonies, and theater troupes. Finally, we realize the importance of practical experience to accompany one’s classroom learning. Explore opportunities for internships and career placement services at our colleges.

To change the world

“Most young CCCU alumni are working full time; 20% are working for a not-for-profit organization. An additional 9% are either in missions or in ministry,” according to the CCCU report. Christian college graduates are researchers and teachers, missionaries and marketers, engineers and economists. They’re serving in political offices and hospitals, on performance stages and boards of directors, all for the glory of God!

Overall, the 2009 market research study conducted for the CCCU revealed high marks for the “specifically Christian aspects” of students’ education: Christian student life, integration of faith and learning, and Christian faculty. Alumni also report that their educations prepared them to communicate effectively, to learn throughout their whole lives, and to look at controversial issues from perspectives other than their own.”  If this is the kind of experience and outcomes you seek, check out a Christian college. Get ready to learn, grow, and experience an enriching education. Prepare to change the world!

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