When looking at schools, most prospective students take into consideration academics, social life, sports, location, and living conditions, but Christian students have an additional concern: spiritual growth. If you’re wondering how college will affect your faith, do some research, visit the campuses, and make the right choices.
Do Your Research
Some universities are Christian in name only. While they remain affiliated with a denomination out of a sense of tradition, they provide little in the way of spiritual formation. Search the school’s website for answers to these questions:
- Is there a pastoral staff or campus church?
- Are there rules and policies concerning Christian living?
- Are students required to attend church or chapel?
- What opportunities does the school offer for ministry, service, or Bible study?
- Does the school have a doctrinal statement? Are the faculty required to agree with it?
- Is Christian teaching incorporated into academics?
If you want more ideas for questions to ask, read what several admissions experts at faith-based universities had to say at Christian College Guide.
Pay a Visit
Of course, a deeply religious school can have apathetic students while a nominally Christian college can have passionate believers. The only way to truly measure a school’s spiritual atmosphere is by visiting the campus.
Many universities host summer camps and college weekends for graduating high school students. If possible, stay overnight in the dorms, get to know current students, and meet the professors. Are students more likely to attend church or a party on the weekend? Do professors pray before they begin class? Do the resident assistants double as prayer leaders? By living, eating, and talking with people who actually attend the school, you’ll receive a much clearer picture than a promotional website or polished brochure can give you.
In addition, keep in mind that even universities that don’t actively promote spiritual growth can have great student-run organizations, like CRU on Campus. When you visit each school, check the community boards and activity flyers to find religious groups and clubs.
Make Wise Choices
While chapel services and spiritual programs are important when it comes to maturing in your faith, it’s really up to you to pursue your own development. If you commit to learning and growing as a Christian, your faith will grow stronger no matter which school you attend. Here are three good choices you can make before enrolling:
- Pray about your decision. Ask God for wisdom and direction in selecting the college where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life. It’s also a good idea to consult discerning believers whom you trust and alumni from the Christian schools you’re looking into.
- Make a pact with yourself. Decide now what steps you’ll take to grow in your faith, such as reading the Bible every day, going to church on Sundays, and volunteering with a ministry. Write down your commitments as a tangible reminder, and try to follow through on them over the course of your college career.
- Seek out friends who will encourage you. At any Christian college, you should be able to find like-minded peers who also desire spiritual growth. Talk to them about the goals, struggles, and achievements you encounter, and keep each other on track.
Christian college offers one of the best opportunities to mature as a believer. Know for sure that your faith will improve at the school you choose by researching the spiritual programs, visiting campus to gauge the environment, and making good decisions and good friends.