Saturday, March 21, 2015

What they didn't tell me about attending a Christian College

This post is not intended to bash the institution I've called home the last four years. It is however intended to clear up common misconceptions parents and students have about schools like my own. These are wonderful schools with abundant opportunities and generally a well-received reputation. I know a number of graduating seniors this year who have their hearts set on colleges with strong Christian values and that's wonderful. However, a lot of them are disillusioned about what is ahead.
I've encountered a few myths and have received agreement from peers at my school and other Christian institutions on these beliefs. These are misconceptions that I want to shed some light on.

Myth #1: Christian Colleges safe-guard your faith.
You will be hard pressed to find an upperclassman at a Christian School that did not come into it thinking on some level that God would “just be there". There is this general assumption that your faith is strengthened by association. This could not be further from the truth. My faith slipped the most my first semester in college. If anything, lukewarm Christians are around every corner. There are a large number of students who have never been challenged in their faith or given the opportunity to grow. There are also a lot of students whose parents forced strongly encouraged they attend. You have to be just as intentional about your faith here as you would anywhere else- a school that makes you attend chapel twice a week is not an excuse to be apathetic in your relationship with Christ. You have to work for it, just like everyone else. If you are attending a Christian College partially because you think it will be easier to stick to your faith than a secular school- you are in for a rude awakening. 

Myth #2 Parties don't happen here.
This is far from the truth. Do they happen less? Well, of course. However, the drunken debauchery that occurs here are underground operations. I'm not at all implying I am a saint nor am I implying I've never broken the rules. However, the drinking and rule breaking that occurs here leaves a much more bitter taste in my mouth. I've partaken in these operations before and gotten caught. This opened my eyes to the fact that drinking/partying here isn't just a matter of dumb decisions, it's an integrity thing too. There's a level of deception that has to occur in order to get away with it. So yes, it happens less but when it does happen, it's hidden behind a good dose of lying and hiding. Which is better? Blatant partying or less but deceptive partying?  I'm not so sure.

Myth #3: The institution will run flawlessly according to your morals, values and convictions. This misconception seems to be more on the end of parents but I have heard the same complaints from opinionated students as well. There are many, many decisions my school and the leaders have made that are not necessarily what I would have chosen. However, I am confident that the students’ best interests and God’s will are always the center of each decision. There is a belief that because the school claims the Christian title it is not allowed room for error. We are flawed people and flawed people make up flawed institutions. Just as we are a body of believers, we are a body of sinners. Christian institutions are not perfect. If you know that at the heart of your institution are leaders with a heart for Christ, then that is the best you've got.

All of this being said there are a few things I was never told but am sure to tell everyone who asks;

My professors are top notch. Comparing stories with friends from state schools and friends from other Christian schools I have come up with one resounding consensus; professors from Christian Schools are one of a kind. There are exceptions to every rule, yes. But the environment encouraged by Christian Universities sets the stage for a unique student/professor relationship. The class sizes are small and there is not one professor I have had that does not know me by name. I am friends with almost all of my past (and some current) professors on facebook, I babysit for a few of them and have an all-around great relationship. These connections create a great learning environment, build professional connections for networking and future references and open the door for academic opportunities while still a student.

You do not pay the sticker price. I almost missed out on four of the best years of my life because the sticker price of these schools scared me off. The 45,000 dollar price tag is very intimidating but I am going to let you in on a secret of private schools (Christian and secular): grants and scholarships! Almost every student will get a grant, which is kind of like a scholarship without having to be a ‘scholar’ AKA there are no requirements. It’s basically free money. In addition to grants, most students get pretty big academic scholarships. Unlike grants, there are some GPA requirements to receive/keep these. The price you pay is normally about half of the estimate they give you. Which is still a lot, I know but that leads me to my next point…

You get what you pay for. These schools are expensive, yes. I KNOW. I work 4 jobs and full time all summer to afford it. Why? Because it’s worth it. These are phenomenal schools, with amazing staff/faculty and an extraordinary education. So I will leave you with this; 

I would make the same choice every time. If I was 17 year old Emily picking a college again, knowing what I know now,  I would do it again. Every time.

What myths or stereotypes have you heard about Christian Colleges?  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. This post is super interesting because several of my friends went to schools like yours. I'm sure this will be very helpful for students choosing the right school for them!