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Why Choose a Christian Higher Education?
Choosing where to study after high school is a big decision. Here are six good reasons to choose a Christian college or university.

Choosing where to study after high school is a big decision—there are lots of choices. Why should youths choose a Christian college or university? Here are a few good reasons:

Smaller class sizes and strong academics

Christian colleges and universities tend to be smaller than public universities. Students can really get to know each other, get more chances to participate in discussions, and get to know their professors in a much more personal way—all things that are key to academic success.

Sense of community

Studying at a Christian college or university is about more than what happens in the classroom. It's also about the relationships they develop with classmates in their residence, during late-night discussions, at sporting events, retreats, worship, and in other ways. During their years at a Christian college or university, they will develop some of the best and deepest friendships of their lives—friendships with people from around the world that will last a lifetime.

Residential life at a Christian college or university is a great place for those who are living away from home for the first time. It's a safe and caring environment where students look out for each other, hold each other accountable for their actions, and where student life staff members provide assistance and support.

Strengthen their faith

The world is a challenging place for young Christians today. They live in a world where claims about truth are greeted with scepticism, a world dominated by consumerism and individualism.

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In such a world, how will they be able to know that Jesus is the way, and speak to others about their faith? How will they be able to make good choices about beliefs and values? How can they model a way of living that values community, that shows care for others, and that sees service as a greater good? In this fast-paced world of instant communication and full-speed living, how will they learn that being a disciple of Jesus is a life-long commitment?

At Christian higher education institutions, faith is part of learning. But this doesn't mean that they are told what to believe. Instead, they are exposed to various perspectives and ideas, and invited to examine their beliefs, put them to the test and make them their own. In this way, their faith can grow deeper.

At the same time, they are prepared to participate as a Christian in the great conversations of life around them. Platitudes learned in Sunday school won't do when co-workers, friends and neighbours ask tough questions that challenge their beliefs.

That's where studies at a Christian college or university are beneficial. It can help them become thoughtful Christians, people who can provide good answers to life's hard questions.

Worship

Worship is vital to Christian life and learning. At Christian colleges and universities, students worship with their peers and staff, taking time to honour God and refresh their spirits. At the same time, they can be exposed to new ways of worship, expanding their ideas of what worship is and what it can be.

Sports

Some Christian colleges and universities offer competitive sports programs. At these schools, competition is tough and tryouts aren't easy, but the sports programs don't emphasize a "sports-is-everything" approach. Instead, they seek to balance the athletic, social, academic and spiritual lives of student athletes. These programs are perfect for students who like to play competitive sports but don't want sports to dominate their lives.

The importance of Christian higher education

In his book, The Fabric of Faithfulness, Steven Garber notes that during the university and college years decisions are made "that are determinative for the rest of life. In the modern world, the years between 18 and 25 are a time for the settling of one's convictions about meaning and morality: `Why do I get up in the morning?' `What do I do after I get up in the morning?' One then settles into life with those convictions as the shaping presuppositions and principles of one's entire life:'

That's why Christian higher education is so important. At a time when the church needs leaders—people who have taken time to think about what they believe, and why they believe it, and are prepared to give good answers to questions about faith—Christian colleges and universities provide environments where youths can begin their journey towards being Christians who can serve the church and the world.

John Longhurst directs communications and marketing at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.

Originally published in Canadian Mennonite, January 19, 2009.

 

 
 
 
 

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