Last Updated: Feb 6, 2012
If you ask the “average” college student what his or her day was like, the student would probably tell you that he or she went to two or three classes, hung out with friends, and maybe attended an extracurricular meeting or athletic practice in the afternoon. For students attending a religious college or university, that typical day often includes a faith-based class, club, or ceremony (like daily chapel) as well.
Some students know they want to go to a school where they will be immersed in their religious beliefs. There are also many students who want to go to a school where religion doesn’t take over their experience, but they can still put an effort towards their beliefs. Let’s take a look at some of these different types of schools and activities:
Schools with a religious emphasis
There are a lot of schools with religious affiliations. Jewish schools (or schools affiliated with Judaism) emphasize Judaism and the Torah, as well as Hebrew language, Yiddish, Zionism, and Jewish history. Examples include Yeshiva University and Gratz College. Catholic and Christian schools can often be subdivided by a particular sect of the faith. One example is Jesuit schools, which represent a Catholic religious order following the teachings of the Catholic Church started by St. Ignatius Loyola. Some Jesuit schools include Loyola University Chicago, Georgetown University, and College of the Holy Cross. Baptist schools adhere to the unique teachings of that religious order as well and include Ouachita Baptist College, California Baptist University, and Baylor University.
How does religion affect a school?
Some schools recommend or even require students study religion while in college. This may include students taking certain classes, such as philosophy, biblical studies, or theology, or certain perhaps language classes. Some schools, like Boston College, a Jesuit school, will have professors who are priests, where students must address the professor as “Father.” Personally, I think if I had priests as teachers, I would feel as if I were in church! But these schools are the perfect venue for students who enjoy the mix of religion and education.
Attending a religious college or university may also come with different rules regarding campus life, like enforcing student curfews, either in general or when visiting members of the opposite sex. For example, some schools say that women cannot be in men’s rooms (and vice versa) past midnight on the weeknights and past 2:00 a.m. on the weekends, regardless of whether the students are boyfriend and girlfriend or just friends staying up late and hanging out.
If you’re not sure whether a school is religious, you should try to find their mission statement on the school’s website. A mission statement should outline the college’s purpose and goals. Often, a school’s religious affiliation will be spelled out more clearly there.
What about secular schools?
Although many schools are not directly affiliated with a particular religion, most still provide religious societies, clubs, organizations, and locations for those who want to practice their beliefs. Colleges and universities often have nondenominational chapels where students of Christian (or any) faith can practice, pray, and attend services. Many also have Hillel Houses, which provide Jewish students a place to gather on campus. Hillel houses may facilitate Kosher dining options, Jewish holiday celebrations, and more, and all students are welcome! Don’t forget the different extracurricular activities on campus—a large number of which are religious. There are options for everyone!
Whether you attend a religious school or not, how do you express your faith on campus? Let us know in the comments!