Though most prestigious universities in the U.S. started out as Christian institutions, over the years, the idea of a “Christian college” has changed. Misperceptions surrounding Christian institutions have emerged, and stereotypes about faith-based education often misrepresent what students can experience — and gain — on a Christian college campus.
Whether you’re a high school senior or a non-traditional student looking for a place to further your education online, it’s important to make an informed decision about where you attend college. Don’t dismiss the idea of a Christian college or university simply because of inaccurate stereotypes — you could miss out on one of the greatest experiences of your life!
Below, we bust ten common myths about Christian colleges and show you why they’re a great choice for any student.
Myth #1: Christian colleges are always more expensive than secular colleges
One of the most common misconceptions about Christian colleges is that they’re significantly more expensive than their secular counterparts. But considerable financial aid and other forms of tuition assistance are available to students attending private institutions — and most Christian colleges are private. At the end of the day, a student attending a private Christian college may end up paying less out-of-pocket than a student attending a state institution.
A study from Philadelphia-based consulting firm Econsult Solutions, Inc. analyzed the economic impact of Christian higher education in the United States and found that the student loan default rate for graduates from the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions (6.3%) is nearly half the national average (11.5%).
Myth #2: Everyone who attends a Christian college grew up in the Church
Oftentimes, people assume that everyone attending a Christian college must have grown up going to church or in a Christian home. However, that’s simply untrue — Christian college students come from all walks of life and a variety of denominational backgrounds. Whether you’re a new believer or have followed Christ for years, a Christian college is a great place to grow and develop your faith with other like-minded individuals.
Myth #3: It’s hard to get a job with a degree from a Christian college
Accrediting bodies apply the same rigorous academic standards to every institution they accredit,* so employers can be confident that a degree earned from an accredited Christian university has met the same high standards as any other accredited institution. And by incorporating faith and ethics into academics, Christian colleges equip students to succeed personally as well as professionally, instilling in them qualities like honesty, perseverance, and a strong work ethic. According to a recent study from LinkedIn’s data covering 100 major cities and surveying over 2,000 business leaders, employers stated that when interviewing job candidates, they look primarily or leadership and management skills — skills that depend heavily on strong moral character.
And because many Christian colleges have a strong network of alumni, graduates are also in an overall position to find a job with like-minded employers in their chosen field after graduation.
*When considering any school, check its regional accreditation status. Regional accreditation is the highest accreditation level possible. Many programs within a school may also have earned additional accreditation through independent bodies such as the American Bar Association (for legal programs) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (for business programs).
Myth #4: Only people who want to enter the ministry should attend a Christian college
Most Christian colleges have robust Bible programs and are a great choice for students who want to become missionaries, counselors, or pastors. While Bible classes are usually part of the core curriculum, however, Christian colleges provide majors in nearly every department: English, computer science, criminal justice, biology and chemistry, marketing, etc. Whether you want to be a nurse, accountant, or engineer, a Christian college will most likely have the program for you.
Myth #5: Christian education isn’t high-quality because it’s too focused on faith
Again, the idea that Christian education sacrifices academic excellence for spirituality is entirely false. Accreditation standards not only monitor the degrees granted by a university but also the university faculty’s degrees, the length of class times, attendance policies, and testing practices, too.
The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2018 list ranked a number of Christian universities — including Dordt College, Baylor University, California Baptist University, Harding University, and Oral Roberts University — highest in terms of student engagement. Within this category, the rankings considered students’ engagement in learning and critical thinking, the level of interaction that students have with faculty and other students while on campus, and the number of subjects and accredited programs available.
Myth #6: You can’t have fun at a Christian college
While Christian colleges typically expect students to abide by certain standards of ethical living, campus life at a Christian college is anything but boring Hall activities, themed movie nights, concerts, sporting events, and theatre productions are just some of the ways you can have fun with your friends at a Christian college. And some schools go the extra mile to make sure you never run out of things to do on campus — Liberty University has a year-round skiing, snowboarding, and tubing slope as well as a rock-climbing wall, high ropes course, and ice skating rink.
For students who want to make a difference, Christian colleges often provide a wide variety of ways to get involved, whether through local community efforts, international service trips, or internship opportunities with large NGOs or nonprofits. It’s no wonder that Christian colleges scored well on The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2018 list of colleges and universities where students feel the most inspired by their peers.
Myth #7: Everyone at Christian colleges is a “super Christian”
The idea that every student at a Christian college is a “super Christian” is totally wrong; there are no super Christians, and everyone — no matter which school they go to — is at a different place ion their faith journey. Ideally, students at a Christian college will challenge one another as they mature in their spiritual walk, help each other tackle issues from a biblical perspective, and faithfully pray for one another. College is the perfect time to ask questions and explore the nuances of Christianity in a helpful, supportive environment, and Christian colleges provide just that.
Myth #8: Christian colleges don’t prepare you for the “real world”
There’s a common misconception that those who attend Christian colleges are sheltered from the outside world. However, Christian colleges — perhaps more so than their secular counterparts — equip students with the tools to help them handle real life.
Christian principles — instilled into every class and curriculum — aid students in developing a solid framework for solving problems and understanding the world around them. Many Christian colleges also offer volunteer opportunities, internships, mission trips, and study abroad program to encourage a deeper engagement with culture.
Myth #9: Students who attend Christian colleges are stuffy and judgmental
Students who attend Christian colleges are just like students at any other college. They’re learning how to manage their time and finances, navigate love and relationships, and respond to failures and successes.
Most Christian colleges have peer leadership programs in place to help students serve one another — and their communities — with love, teaching them how to live out Christian principles with grace in every area of life. Many offer free counseling and extensive wellness programs and support student initiatives that make lasting impacts socially, environmentally, and/or relationally.
Myth #10: Christian colleges have no diversity
The idea that Christian colleges aren’t diverse is a myth — in fact, one report shows that Christian universities across the U.S. have become nearly as diverse as public flagship universities. Before equity and inclusion on a Christian campus can happen, however, it must be understood that everyone — regardless of their race, language, or ethnic heritage — is valued and loved by God. Christian colleges strive to honor God in everything they do — including celebrating what believers hold in common while at the same time celebrating the beautiful things that make them different.
Choosing the right college for you depends on a wide variety of factors. As you prepare for this important new phase of your life, consider the benefits of attending a Christian college before making a decision.