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Mar 18, 2015

Why I Chose a Christian College



It's hard for me to believe that I graduated from college over 4 years ago.  That time in my life seems like it was just yesterday, but the reality is that I walked off of Gordon's campus with my Bachelors degree in 2011, and most of my friends are married and scattered around the country.  We've all made moves towards jobs, schools, and careers, towards our lives.

I was talking to a girl from my church this weekend who just made the decision to attend my alma mater...Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.  She is excited to have made her choice and I, of course, was excited for her!  It made me think back to my own decision over 8 years ago.

High school came easy to me.  I went to a small public school, had a great group of friends, and graduated at the top of my class.  While I didn't apply to any terribly difficult schools to get into, I got accepted to each one I applied to.  Those acceptance letters came from a mix of Christian and secular schools, and while I seriously considered each one of them, I knew early on in my search that I wanted to seriously consider attending a Christian college.

I had grown up in church, and I had a firm foundation in my faith, but the thought of learning alongside others who had the same foundation just had a certain appeal.  Looking back, I couldn't be more satisfied with my decision to attend the school I did.

Gordon helped shape my worldview.  The school's motto was "Freedom within a Framework of Faith" when I was a student, and I think it was so true.  I loved that my professors prayed at the start of class and that I could have late-night chats about faith and foreign policy over a cup of tea with my apartment mates.  I loved that even in my extracurricular activities, from my season on the field hockey team to my job interning in the admissions office, God was not taboo, but a welcome topic of conversation, and prayer was always available when needed.

Gordon was fraught with intentional community, and I drank up every moment.  I lived alongside of world changers and was inspired and challenged daily by our conversations, both in and out of the classroom.  Looking back, it's hard to swallow that that season of life is over.  I wish I had another year of learning and growing in that environment, but I'm so grateful for the time I did get.

I chose a Christian college because I wanted to be in an environment where I felt understood and known at the core of who I am:  my love of Christ.  It was important to me to find community that would support me through faith and spur me on to my calling to be Christ-like.

Do I believe that Christian schools are the only places these communities are found?  Absolutely not!  I think that you can find people who will push you to follow Jesus no matter where you find yourself in college.  And I think it's possible to go to a Christian school and find people who won't be the kind of community described in Hebrews 10:24-25.

I think that no matter what stage of life you're in...whether you're deciding on what college to attend or what job to take or where to plant your roots, you need to be intentional about seeking out that community, those people.  There's so much to be said for surrounding yourself with the people who will truly embody the words "brothers and sisters in Christ", and those people, whoever they are, are completely irreplaceable.

WHAT WAS YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE LIKE?

13 comments:

  1. This was so interesting to read, Betsy! I grew up attending secular schools and never really considered going to a Christian institution for college. Now that I've met some new friends who did, I'm learning more and more about that experience. My college was definitely not Christian, but it had a really strong and beautiful community of faith. I had professors who were followers of Jesus and who supported me in my studies and my college life in general. It's amazing how the Lord provides for each of His own. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  2. I decided to go to Brigham Young University...a university in Utah owned and run by the LDS Church...it was the only college I wanted to go to and the only one I applied too. I had been a military brat and lived all over the US my entire life, so it was interesting to go to a college where the majority of the population was Mormon. Now, we're huge on sports and academics, so we have other religions, too, Muslim, Hindu, other sects of Christianity, Jewish, even some atheists that go here for the sport program or the academic programs. But, it was so nice to be surrounded by so many people that share the same belief system that you do. We also started class with a prayer, and one of the teaching standards at BYU was to try to connect the subject to the Gospel...now that was much easier in the liberal arts than the hard sciences or even math, but they were able to do it. It was interesting because my physics professor was Catholic and she LOVED the way BYU was run. So, instead of doing a Mormon style prayer or even a Catholic prayer, every day would be something different: Mormon prayer, Catholic prayer, Buddhist writ, Sanskrit poem, etc to celebrate the fact that we celebrate religion. I loved it!

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  3. Interesting! I went to a small state university and I wasn't a Christian until my last year but I LOVED my school. There was really something for everyone and I just love the academic climate- hence why I jumped into a PhD program right after my undergrad hahaha

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  4. That's awesome! I hopped into a grad degree at another Christian university two days after walking across the stage at my bachelors graduation! How did I not know that you're getting your PhD?!? What are you studying?

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  5. AMEN! I love this. I went to a Christian school too...and it seriously changed me. I don't think I would be this close to God if it weren't for the professors, friends and people around me that challenged me to grow.

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  6. I did not go to a Christian school, but I graduated in 2011 as well from SUNY (New York state school) Geneseo. There was an excellent sense of community and inclusion, and what I loved best was similar to what you loved about your college. Although it wasn't strictly Christian, there were tons of people of different faiths interacting and I loved that we could all discuss our faiths and backgrounds freely.

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  7. I also went to a Christian school, and I was really happy with my decision. I had never even considered it, but my mom urged me to apply, and it was a great place to be. :) I'm glad you had such a great experience, as well!

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  8. I went to a Christian school that is also a big research institution (Baylor), which was a good fit for me. A lot of people who aren't Christian come to Baylor, but, like you, I loved our chapel and sitting around and discussing faith with friends.

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  9. I attended the one college I applied to, a public college. I found my two besties while I was there. Actually, the three of us were in a Bible study together.

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  10. Betsy, I am in the process of writing a similar post on my passion for Christian Higher Ed and how to make a college decision. Our hearts for intentional Christian community are so in sync. Now if only we would have gone to the same small Christian college :)

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  11. So true - "you need to be intentional about seeking out that community." I ended up going to a public university and because God provided a wonderful group of Christian friends, I grew immensely in my faith.

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  12. I love that motto. I thought about going to a Christian school but my parents weren't very supportive. In high school I was the only one who attended church.

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