The transition from high school to college is an exciting and demanding time for students. For most, the search for the right institution begins years before attending.
Although preferences may change during this time, one of the biggest options is weighing the choice between private and public institutions. Christian schools are abundant and feature many of the same courses as public universities, but also some striking differences.
As students weigh their options between major public and private universities, one question that they might have is whether or not Christian colleges are considered private colleges. In the United States, any university directly associated with the Christian faith, or any other faith, is certainly considered a private institution. This includes all Christian colleges.
The reason for this is pretty clear and relates directly to the separation between church and state. States simply cannot provide religious colleges with public funding as their sole, or primary, source of funding for this reason.
Though this may be considered a disadvantage by some students and their families initially, there are some reasons to celebrate private Christian colleges and universities as a healthy alternative to their publicly funded counterparts.
Private Institutions Have Unique Educational Requirements
State-funded universities generally adhere to a curriculum set by that state’s legislators or education officials. Private institutions, however, are free to inform their education requirements by consulting the faith and religious values that provide the school’s foundation.
For this reason, many students with a strong belief in Christianity will find that Christian colleges provide them with a more values-oriented general education core, including in-depth courses in ethics, philosophy, theology, and comparative religions. These classes are harder to find at public institutions.
Generous Scholarships Offset Tuition Costs
Many Christian universities believe in helping those who struggle to afford tuition, and they leverage their powerful alumni connections when developing larger, more robust scholarship programs for students who have a demonstrated financial need.
These programs help to offset the higher annual cost of tuition for students that require it the most, and they’re typically based on a student’s academic performance in high school or during their first few years of college. Some schools may even give community service scholarships, which offset the cost of tuition as long as students volunteer for a minimum number of hours each semester.
Different Majors for Christian Students
Most Christian colleges operate as liberal arts colleges, with strong programs in the fields of history, theology, language, and the sciences.
In addition to this strong liberal arts core, many Christian institutions have majors that directly connect with their core values. These majors might specialize in nonprofit management, charity, ethical business, or even a comparative study of religion. Most students at these schools use their unique majors as a gateway to a career in academia or higher education through seminaries, leading to work with congregations around the world.
Community with a World Full of Scholars
Just like their public counterparts, private institutions enjoy a large alumni network that makes it easier for recent graduates to make connections, find jobs, and advance their careers over the long term.
Unlike public institutions, many Christian schools network with each other using a “faith-based” approach. For example, Catholic institutions operated by the Society of Jesus are all linked together through the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The same is true of Benedictine, Methodist, Presbyterian, and many other Christian affiliations that operate colleges in the United States.
A Great Way for Students to Further Their Education
Private colleges and universities have just as much to offer as public institutions, with excellent majors, networking opportunities, and alumni networks. Though all Christian colleges are considered private colleges in the United States, they often help students with overall affordability, opportunity, and enrichment, no matter their background or financial ability.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are the majority of private Christian colleges non-denominational?
There’s nearly an equal mix of Christian-based schools with autonomous branches of the Christian faith, and non-denominational. Here are the definitions of them both, and additional information:
Post-secondary Christian schools exist with a focus on a wide body of Christian denominations, and colleges with a specialty in just one. They’re easy to find as most are marketed with the name of their faith displayed on newsletters, emails, commercials, and pamphlets sent out to high school students.
For instance, a school centered on Catholic religious studies would inform the potential student of this before ever touring campus. Catholic schools are sometimes titled with various notable Catholic landmarks, such as the University of Notre Dame.
Within denominations can exist more branches of the Christian faith, with Protestant school being one example. There are also reformed Protestant colleges. Presbyterian, Methodist, and Latter-day Saints institutions of higher education are optional for students. Some of these are found more in abundance based on region, or the number of adherents in a particular city or state.
Non-denominational colleges offer extensive courses on the entirety of Christianity but may vary in specific branches. When they do, this information is provided to students so they know what relevant courses are available on their faith.
Seminary schools can also fall under this category. They may not categorically state whether the school is Protestant or Catholic, but faculty, staff, and the student body will make up people of either belief.
In every state exists a multitude of private colleges with Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Episcopal, non-denominational affiliations, and others. Their count changes due to the number of small denominations in each state.
Others have notable educational facilities outside of the US but are primarily located within. The List of Friends has schools in abundance, overseen by the Friend’s Council and a source for students interested in a Quaker education.
2. Are Retention rates for Christian schools the same as public colleges?
In the context of higher education, retention rates are the percentage of students that will stay at the same school following their first undergraduate year. When a freshman finishes their first year of college, then moves on to their sophomore year without leaving, they’re counted as a percentage of the school’s retention for that current semester.
A student transferring to another school or leaving altogether looks unfavorably to private colleges and public universities. Higher turnover rates are sometimes attributed to a lack of interest from the students, staff, and a lack of support for first-year attendees.
On average, the retention rate at private schools, which also includes private Christian colleges, is higher than in public institutions. Retention rates are highest among undergraduate students just coming from high school.
Faith-based colleges offer a hands-on approach to learning, a good assortment of counseling programs that encourage students to continue with their education, and lots of options for financial assistance. All of these benefits plus the focus on student’s faith helps Christian colleges guide undergrads into a successful body of accomplished alumni. Public universities do the same, though retention rates are sometimes higher.
3. Is there a stricter observance of Christian holidays?
Observance of important holidays is normal for most Christian-based schools. Where things can differ from public universities are the holidays celebrated by specific denominations. Catholic schools may observe Lent, with time off for Mass attendance on Ash Wednesday. Others include Good Friday, Easter Sunday, All-Saints Day, and of course, Christmas. National holidays are recognized and observed by most schools, though time off from classes is typically unauthorized.
Most Christian colleges, both denominational and non-denominational, will display their holiday schedule on the school’s website for students and parents. Church events and other related activities on and off-campus are usually listed, including formal religious services. Students might be required to attend some proceedings marked on a calendar or semester year, according to the stipulation of the school in attendance.
Still, some religious schools are only partially affiliated with Christian-based traditions. Others may harbor compulsory religious courses and turnout for church gatherings. The demands of the colleges can vary based on practice, the school, regions, and the state. Public universities provide time off on major holidays, such as Christmas, but no official endorsement of any religious celebration.
4. What advantages do Christian colleges offer that aren’t found in public universities?
The major benefit of post-secondary Christian schools is their ability to teach students coming from religious families and backgrounds. The focus on education is always a priority, as is the importance of the belief in the Christian faith, and what it provides in terms of learning, work ethic, and in the job market. Christian and public colleges are tasked with educating students, the former with an added moral perspective.
Some public universities may offer religious programs and activities for students but are headed by a secular body to accommodate the practitioners of other non-Christian beliefs. Religious believers of Christianity will have the opportunity to be taught by staff who are also followers and interact with similar peers.
5. What Other differences are there between Christian Colleges and Public Universities?
First, there’s attendance. the number of students in a Christian college’s class is typically smaller than that of public universities. Though there are exceptions, the average classroom is small enough for students to get the attention they need at an individual level. Some classes are by design larger than others, such as when lectures are being conducted.
The best schools are generally listed favorability according to retention rate, net price, the rate of graduates, and the average alumni’s salary after graduating. A large percentage of the best schools in the country are Christian-based, public, or were founded as Christian schools in the past.
Another big difference concerns activities readily available for the religious at secular universities. Most are extracurricular, not woven into their school’s daily life to the same extent as Christian colleges. A student that wants to link up with other At ar religious school, a Christian follower can manage this easily at school and away from class, and sometimes during classes if religious courses are provided.
Additionally, Christian colleges specialize in Christian theology classes of all kinds. People who attend such schools leave with a thorough understanding of the Christian religion, its background, and its denomination.
Public universities do offer religious studies but don’t go outside of the class in observances of specific holidays or market themselves as belonging to one religion. This is for legal reasons, whereas a Christian school can take part in and accede to Christian values. They are private schools and receive no institutional funding from the state.
6. Are students of Christian colleges eligible for the same scholarships as public university attendees?
Christian schools contain the same courses that are found at public universities. The students of both are eligible for the same grants and scholarships. This includes federal assistance as well. There are also no restrictions placed on Christian colleges receiving grants from the federal government for the entire college. Public and secular-based private institutions are no different.
If a student of a Christian school meets the requirements for a grant, they can use it to pay for books, field trips, dining, dorms, and subject-specific semester courses. On top of this, students have the opportunity to apply for grants that are exclusive to the university and its church.
As a whole, all accredited schools in the country must meet requirements in the fields of math, science, and reading. If the standards set forth by the state are obliged, funding will be no different.
7. Are Bible colleges the same as Christian Colleges and Public Universities?
Christian Colleges center on higher education that covers various subjects dealing with non-religious and religious courses. Bible colleges focus more on the education of Christian biblical texts rather than independent degrees outside of the faith. For this reason, Bible colleges are usually attended after a student has finished their undergraduate degree and wants a further understanding of Christian texts. People working towards a path that’s centered on church services may find interest in bible colleges.
Christian and Public Colleges are Unique
For students wanting knowledge of the Christian faith, private Christian colleges are a great way to obtain it. And in the process, their experience in religious guidance provides students the determination and continue with their undergraduate degrees. Public universities provide the education students need, though lacking a direct emphasis on religious subjects on and off-campus.
Christian colleges are private, maintaining extensive religious characteristics that public schools don’t. Their differences aside, both have persisted because of this, with alumni recommending both to students from all backgrounds.