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Choosing a Christian College

Are you looking for a Christian college? If so, you have probably noticed there are a lot of colleges with a Christian affiliation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics there are over 800 religiously affiliated colleges, most of which have Christian ties. With so many options, you need some criteria to help you sift through and select a college that is a good fit for you.

Define what you mean by “Christian college”

One of the first steps in the college selection process is to determine what factors are important to you. There are many factors to consider such as location, setting, majors offered, size, teaching style, social life, and spiritual life (just to name a few). For you seeking a Christian college, there is an additional step in the process, defining what you mean by desiring a Christian college. Do you mean you want to attend a college with a specific denominational affiliation? Do you want to attend a college that offers a specific ministry major? Or like most students who desire a Christian college, do you want to attend a school that has a distinctly Christian mission?

 Christian colleges are differentiated by their mission

As mentioned previously, many colleges have a Christian affiliation, yet not all of these colleges have a distinctly Christian mission. One of the quickest ways to assess the Christian integration at a college is to read the school’s mission statement. College mission statements are prominently posted on a school’s website typically in an “About Us” section. Every college takes great care to develop a mission statement that truly reflects the heart and goals of the school. As a result, you can be sure Christian themes will be included if they are central to the college’s curriculum and/or culture. When reading a Christian college mission statement pay close attention to how Christianity is (or isn’t) integrated and compare that to the type of Christian experience you desire.

  • Does the school’s mission include goals to uphold a specific type of Christian tradition?
  • Does the school separate its Christian affiliation as a respected history?
  • Does the mission of the university reflect a Christian purpose?

Chapel reflects the mission of the university

Another easy way to assess the Christian culture of a college is to give specific attention to college chapel programs. In the words of John Chopka, VP for Enrollment Management at Messiah College, “Regardless of how it is offered, the chapel experience at a Christian College is a central expression of our identity as a community of Christians with a deep commitment to spiritual growth and academic excellence.” Chapel attendance is required at most Christian colleges; however, mandatory chapel is not in itself a good barometer for Christian integration. You might be surprised to know that even some well-known Midwest Christian schools such as Taylor University, Calvin College, and Trinity Christian College do not require chapel attendance. So rather than focusing on finding a Christian school with mandatory chapel, focus on the quality of each college’s chapel program. Look over the goals of the chapel program, topics covered, and times offered. Many colleges even have links to listen live! Think about the following things as you evaluate the information:

  • Does the chapel program specifically focus on Christian spiritual maturation or does it seek to feed students of all faith associations?
  • How are chapel services structured?
  • What topics are covered?
  • Are special speakers scheduled to speak, if so, who?

 What do you want to get out of a Christian college experience that you could not from other universities? Answering that question will help you decide if the mission of a specific university is a good fit for you. Despite the number of options, choosing a Christian college does not need to be a stressful or confusing process. If you are thorough and strategic, you will find a good fit for your college wants and needs. Do not hesitate to get help through this pivotal time in your life. I would love to help make your Christian college selection and admission process smoother by coaching you every step of the way. To contact Sarah Weber, click here.

Sarah Weber is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked over 8 years in Christian higher education with combined experience in admissions, residential life, and spiritual development. She completed her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling degree at Olivet Nazarene University. Sarah specializes in helping clients develop a spiritual growth plan for college.

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