You may be wrestling with the question: where should I go to college? Does it matter whether I go to secular university or a faith-based college? Where will my faith be most challenged to grow? My honest answer to that question is: it depends. The question is not so much about where you go to college as who have you determined to be and how determined are you to get there? Allow me to briefly express some reasons why you might consider choosing a faith-based college as you contemplate your purpose and sense of direction regarding the future:
- You'll explore a faith-oriented worldview. Your worldview is the lens through which you see reality. By attending a secular university, it shouldn't shock you to learn, the teaching you receive-whether in math, humanities or the sciences-will be instruction devoid of God and morality. Secular worldviews are generally humanistic, leaving no room for the supernatural, the pursuit of spirituality or the even the most basic quest for truth. In contrast, when you attend a faith-based institution, conversations about faith are not dismissed, but welcomed. What is taught about the origin of the universe, ethics, sexuality, history and the human psyche will begin with the assumption of God's existence and branch out from there.
- You'll discover answers to your questions. It could be argued that the college years will be the most formative season of your life. During these years you will make decisions and set priorities that become the trajectory for your entire future. It's normal and healthy for a college student to assess what you've been taught up until now. Some of it you'll choose to hold onto and other beliefs will be modified or discarded altogether. This "deconstructing" of beliefs commonly leads to a "reconstructing" of new ones. It's imperative that we allow ourselves to wrestle sincerely with the deep quandaries of life: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Where am I going? As you seek to personally answer your still unformulated beliefs about faith and life in general, it really makes sense to seek out an environment purposefully designed to nurture your soul's pursuit of meaning. A faith-based college or university has the goal of equipping you to live a life of purpose--whether in humanitarian service or in a career field where you're simply able to reflect the image of God in the way you do your work. Faith-based colleges offer a safe place to call home while you're seeking to understand and articulate who you're becoming.
- You'll likely find a good influence. Someone once said the two most influential factors in life are the friends we make and the books we read. In college, you're apt to encounter plenty of new friends and lots of books filled with ideas. In any college you choose, it's wise to exercise discernment when it comes to who we befriend and what we ingest mentally. All of it affects us on a spiritual level, whether we're aware of it or not. At a faith-based college you may not have to look quite so hard to find substantive relationships, both with peers and professors. Generally speaking, students attend faith-based college by choice, and this generally reflects a desire for spiritual growth and meaningful connection. Intentionality in who you spend time with reaps a harvest (helpful or unhelpful) in the long run. Whether you're looking for good mentorship, solid friendship or even a potential life partner, a faith-based college can offer you greater opportunities to find like-minded people who will stretch your thinking and challenge you to grow in your faith.