The Case for Christian College - Part 2
- Friday, December 14, 2007
Soon-to-be homeschool graduates face a myriad of choices as they decide "what's next." Amelia Harper lays out the second part of the case for Christian colleges as an option. Read part one here.
Attendance at a good Christian college can also be the catalyst that propels a young person into a more personal relationship with the Lord. As students study the Word of God together, pray together, and see prayers answered in the lives of others, their own faith can increase.
In addition, for many students, the passage to adulthood requires a healthy examination of the basis of their faith. I know that I went through this even in a Christian college. I began to question the validity of my Christian beliefs and whether I truly believed this on my own or was merely parroting what I was taught to believe by my parents. For months I faced an intense crisis of faith, but when I finally found my footing, my faith was stronger than ever because I knew it was my own. Facing this crisis while studying in a Christian environment was hard, but I shudder to think what conclusions I might have come to in a secular college when any chink in the armor would mark me as fair prey for those who deny God.
For Elisabeth Marlowe, college had a great impact on her spiritual life. "When I began college, one of my freshman roommates told me, 'God will break you in college.' I didn't understand that then, but I do now. God had to break my will so many times to remind me that He was in control and He knew what was best. If I hadn't attended college, I wouldn't be able to face life's difficulties now, but through college I saw God perform in my life, and now He daily reminds me of those times, and I know He's sufficient to see me through."
Deciding what path to take after high school is not always easy, especially as we are now faced with so many options. For some people, distance learning may offer what they need. A friend of mine has, so far, had three sons attend a Christian college, but her daughter, who is now in high school, recently told her that she is seriously considering distance learning for college so that she can stay and minister in her home church. It is hard to argue with such logic. If you feel that God is leading you to pursue your college at home, a growing number of options are available.
However, Christian colleges are well worth your consideration if you are looking for a more traditional setting. These colleges offer a wide range of educational and social advantages for the homeschooled student transitioning into adulthood. The best advice is to do as homeschool graduate Jennifer Brown advised: "Make sure you are going where you believe God wants you."
How to Choose a Christian College for Your Family
The term "Christian" varies greatly when applied to colleges. Some are basically Bible colleges that are designed mainly to instruct pastors, teachers, and missionaries. Some are solid liberal arts universities that teach a wide range of subjects from a Christian worldview. Some are Christian in name only and abandoned solid Bible teaching years ago. For example, a representative from one college that has a denominational name once debated with me on a radio program about the advantages of teenagers exploring homosexuality. Do your homework BEFORE you go to college. Careful research can help you find the college that is the best fit for you and your family.
Read the school's statement of faith.
Christian colleges generally have a statement of faith that tells about the beliefs of the school. Check this out to see if you agree with what is taught at the school.
Check out the student handbook.
If possible, get a look at the student handbook that lists the rules and accountability procedures of the institution. No one LIKES rules, but rules can help protect students and instill the discipline they need in their future life. Parents may feel more comfortable about sending their child to a college that is committed to watching over students. And college rules often help students in the transition from a close-knit family environment to complete independence. For homeschooled students, this can be a real plus.
Check out the academic reputation of the school.
Academic reputation is not necessarily measured by accreditation. Some top-notch schools choose not to be accredited rather than compromise on issues imposed by a secular institution. Some are accredited by agencies that allow them to maintain their Christian worldview. For a student planning a career in a secular field, it is important to research how the institution is respected in the academic and business world. Ask admissions counselors what specific graduate schools accept the school's degrees. Also find out what organizations recruit from the college's student population.
Check out the catalog and website.
The catalog and website can tell you more than what majors are offered. Look at specific course titles and descriptions to learn more about the approaches taught in the classroom. Does the catalog reflect courses that teach a liberal social agenda masked as academic coursework as many secular colleges do? Is evolution taught as a viable alternative? What kind of clubs, organizations, and activities does the college endorse? All this can tell you more about the school's overall philosophy and help you learn if the school is a good fit for you.
Visit the campus.
Most colleges will allow prospective students and their parents to visit the campus and even attend a few classes, usually at no charge. This is a good way to get a better feel for campus life and see if it is for you.
Realize that no college is perfect.
Of course, you will not find a perfect place anywhere on this earth. Every college will likely have something that you do not like. There are advantages and disadvantages to every higher education scenario. But careful research can help you make a more informed decision. Also remember that not everyone who attends a Christian college is truly committed to the Lord. Use discretion in choosing friends and activities at Christian college as much as you would in your own hometown.
Originally published on December 14, 2007.
Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and pastor's wife. She is the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level students. She is also a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. www.HomeScholarBooks.com :: www.HomeSchoolBlogger.com/MiddleEarthMom
Copyright 2007. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Fall 2007. Used with permission. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com
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