Statistics: Christian Higher Education on the Rise

Recent statistics have shown a nationwide increase in enrollment among institutions of higher education, including Christian colleges and universities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, student enrollment in over 130 Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions shot up by 67 percent between 1992 and 2002.

Susan Bratton, the chair of the environmental studies department at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, says several small Christian schools had serious financial problems and student roster of less than 1000 during the 1980's.

“Since that time, most of schools with enrollment dips have come out of it very well,” said Bratton, who has previously worked in a number of both Christian and non-Christian institutional settings.

Bratton connected the enrollment 'boom' with parental involvement, laying out several issues that emerged from her interactions with parents of incoming students at Baylor, the largest Baptist institution in the world.

“They also want their students in an environment where they will be spending a certain amount of time reasonably engaged in studying and where their social standards will be better,” said Bratton. “They like the student life component of Christian schools.”

Other areas of concern for parents that make them think twice about secular institutions are substance abuse, co-ed dorms, and perhaps living arrangements, according to Bratton.

On the other hand, there are numerous factors shifting their interest to Christian institutions like Baylor: Christian music, social events, student organizations, international study abroad programs, and research opportunities in sciences.

Another contributing factor to the growth of Christian colleges is the quality of education and academic rank, according to Bratton.

In the 2003 U.S. News & World Report guide to the best colleges, nearly all U.S. CCCU institutions ranked within the top 36 within their respective categories. Furthermore, 11 CCCU schools made it to the "best values" rank in their respective regions.

Some 47% of CCCU first-year students had an A- or better grade point average in high school, compared to 35% of first-year students in other private colleges, according to the 2000 study by the UCLA/Higher Education Research Institute.

Behind these numbers is the “conscious effort” made by Christian schools in the past to raise their academic caliber.

“In the last two decades, a number of Christian schools have been involved in programs that offer research opportunities in sciences and very active in pursuing ways to make it easily available to their top science students,” said Bratton.

“There have been more seminars and training sessions for Christian college faculty to encourage them to pursue these opportunities and to get them in place for their students too.”