Fusing a Spiritual Life with Higher Education at a Faith-Based College
College is a time for young adults to not only pursue higher education in a field of interest, but also a time for self-development, growth, and spiritual enrichment. Those who have grown up in a spiritual setting may find themselves more at home at a faith-based college versus a traditional one. With that said, it’s important to consider all your options when “college shopping” to ensure that you’ve picked the right one. According to the College Foundation of North Carolina, there are well over 1,000 faith-based institutions of higher education across the country.
Faith-Based Colleges to Consider
There are a variety of faith-based colleges to look into during your college search:
- Non-evangelical faith-based colleges like Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Jewish schools
- Schools with religious origins like a college that was founded by a certain religious group in the 1800s, but where religion is not a big part of campus life today
- Traditional evangelical schools like those affiliated with Mennonite, Southern Baptist, and Reformed denominations
Among these different faith-based colleges, some are gender-specific, many welcome agnostic and atheist students, and most accept students of differing faiths.
The requirements for participation and opportunities for spiritual growth may vary from one college to another. For example, some schools may offer religious classes and services, but don’t require their students to take them. Contrarily, other schools may make participation required.
Benefits of Attending a Faith-Based College
One of the key benefits of attending a faith-based college is that you’ll form close bonds with your classmates, other students around you, and even your professors. This is because the student body and faculty will likely share a similar background or religion as you. For many, this can be a big stepping stone to mustering up the courage to get involved on campus, openly participating comfortably in class discussions, joining clubs and organizations, and more.
When compared to traditional colleges, students don’t have to worry about getting an inferior education at a faith-based college. Curriculums are just as challenging and rigorous, and offer excellent academic programs. Students must pass the same requirements to earn their degrees. Additionally, many of the faculty members at faith-based colleges have earned their doctorates in their fields, published their work, and serve as experts in their disciplines.
In comparison to traditional four-year colleges, faith-based colleges tend to have smaller class sizes with less than 5,000 students. This means that each student can expect personalized attention from professors, and more discussion-style classes rather than large lecture hall-type classes. Students will be encouraged to participate in group activities and discussions to further their learning.
Integrating Faith & Education
Faith-based colleges are unique from traditional colleges in that faith is not discussed exclusively in religious courses. Rather, faith is a topic infused in most classes. Students will study a subject and integrate their worldview as it relates to their beliefs, and hear their peers’ perspectives and thoughts. This promotes critical thinking and teaches young individuals to respect and understand varying opinions in controversial issues that may come up in classes.
Those who wish to grow their faith and further their understanding of a religion may take religious courses. These differ from regular classes in that they focus on in-depth discussions on religious topics, the history, and interpretations of religious documents like the Bible.
Finally, religious schools provide students the freedom to celebrate their spiritual life. Most have places of worship on campus, and people are able to gather together to share beliefs, pray, study, and discuss their thoughts.
Service to Others
A well-rounded college experience is not complete without some form of opportunity to be of service to others on campus, in the community, or even globally. Faith-based colleges make it easy for students to serve others through volunteering or traveling abroad to help the less fortunate. Participating in community service is also a great way to make new friends that may turn into valuable connections for life!
Faith-based colleges are not for everyone, but can be a fantastic choice for students wishing to surround themselves with like-minded people sharing similar beliefs. Whether you are looking for a college that is only religious in their founding, or one that weaves religious faith into everyday life on campus, there is a school out there for you!