Why Choose a Christian College?
The quality and variety of Christian Colleges in the USA: why not explore these opportunities to integrate academic excellence and spiritual growth?
It has been reported by the U.S. Department of Education that the United States has about 4,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education of which approximately 1.600 are private, nonprofit campuses. Within this group of 1,600 about 900 self-define themselves as "religiously affiliated".
These "religiously affiliated" colleges include a variety of faiths as well as institutions that were founded by a religious denomination to which it may no longer hold any particular allegiance.
At present, there are only 102 intentionally Christ-centered institutions in the U.S. who have qualified for membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities: www.cccu.org/about/members.asp. These institutions maintain their faith-based commitment by retaining Christian faculty and seeking to create a campus climate that promotes the spiritual development of students and that integrates faith into an accredited academic curriculum.
The National Association of Christian College Admissions Professionals lists the reasons for applying to a Christian College on their website: www.naccap.org/whychristiancollege.asp.
- Challenging academics
- Smaller class sizes
- Sense of community
- Growth in all aspects of life
- More interaction with professors
- High academic quality
- Prepare your heart and mind for success
- Strengthen your walk with Christ
- It's an education you can value
- Expand your world views with Christian principles and ideas
- Competitive financial aid packages
Interestingly during the decade of the 1990s-2000 the enrollment growth in U. S. colleges and universities was about 5.3% whereas for Christian colleges and universities in the Council it was nearly 37%. Clearly there is reason to at least consider these institutions if you have any desire to continue your faith development during your time of study in the U. S. This group of Christian colleges is a diverse one and so it is important to take the time to seek out the places that are most suited to your own unique set of needs and priorities.
Many international students begin their college search by using the Internet to find the places that offer the subjects they wish to study. Sometimes they start by searching for scholarship opportunities or connecting with a place their friends attend. In some cases families begin their search with the latest endorsements from rankings such as those compiled by U.S News, The Princeton Review and Barons.
Those same options exist for this group of Christian colleges and universities. Both of the websites listed earlier in this article provide a list of these institutions, a link for conducting a personal search and other information that will enlighten your awareness of the diversity that exists within this unique group of institutions.
Here are some of the ways that Christian colleges and universities describe themselves:
Rural or urban campuses
Liberal Arts based curriculum vs. career centered
B.A. or B.S. or M.A. or M.S. or Ph.D. or Ed.D or A.A degrees
Size, location, number of students under 25, student to faculty ratio
Sports teams, housing options, percentage of international students
Admissions requirements and entrance difficulty
Majors, minors, off campus programs, internship opportunities
Scholarships and financial aid opportunities
Graduate school and employment statistics
There are some additional things to consider when looking specifically at Christian Colleges. These are most apt to be described within each institution's website on their admissions pages and on their application forms. Some Christian colleges are more intensely defined by a particular theological or denominational affiliation and those are situations that are usually quite easy to identify.
What denomination is it affiliated with and what are their basic tenants?
What denominations are represented in their student body? Percentages?
Is a personal statement of faith required to apply? Must an applicant be a Christian?
What type of religion or Bible or theology classes are required and how many?
Are there particular guidelines that students must follow for their conduct both on and off campus?
Is there a requirement to attend chapel?
Once these criteria are examined and your list of choices is narrowed then compare the colleges' academic offerings as they relate to your major areas of interest. Look for off campus opportunities and internships. Is there evidence of research and mentoring opportunities with faculty? Does each major list evidence of the success of its graduates? Can you email someone on the faculty? Are their adequate facilities to support the major you are pursuing? Does the faculty have strong degrees and are they fulltime vs part time or adjunct? What are the options for OPT and CPT experiences?
Do not allow for anyone to tell you that these colleges are second rate academically---many of them can be found at the top of those lists that endorse the "best places" to study in the U.S. and their graduate school placements records are competitive.
Look up the Best Semesters Program which the Council created by combining efforts among their member institution in order to provide some very unique experiential education opportunities: www.bestsemester.com.
The final step is to look for information to help you learn more about the campus climate. Is it welcoming to international students? Read over the website for International Admissions to see what the application process is like and to find out more about the international community at each institution. Several of these colleges are ranked among the top in the U. S. for the number of international students on their campus. Check to see if the college has special funds for missionary kids, pastor's kids and for international students in general.
Are there organizations on campus like an International Students' Association or a Mu Kappa Club Chapter? What activities are these groups sponsoring? What types of resources exist for advising, counseling, medical assistance and academic support? Are there housing options that exist for international students during summer and holiday breaks?
Is the city large enough to include ethnic groceries stores and other resources that you might desire? How easily can an international student find employment on campus? Can you email with an international student from this college? Be certain to ask about the spiritual as well as social growth opportunities.
In summary, the reason to consider a Christian college is for adding potential value to your educational experience in the U.S. The campus community created at these unique colleges and universities may be just what you are seeking because Christian higher education challenges and fosters a connection of faith and learning.