Dr. Jim Heugel is the provost at Northwest University (AG) in Kirkland, Washington. In the following editorial, he provides insights to the specific benefits student enjoy when they choose to attend a college or university that is not just Christian by name, but where the community is made up of fellow believers — such as found on the campuses of Assemblies of God endorsed colleges and universities.
In United States higher education, May 1 is known as College Commitment Day. Each year around that date, the news media generates scores of stories about the college application process, how to be selected for your first choice school, the intense competition for acceptance at a handful of prestige universities, and the pain of not being admitted to one’s first-choice college. My heart goes out to these hopeful high school students. I honor their hard work, and I completely understand their intense desire to be admitted to the best and most esteemed school.
The problem is that these two ideas — best and prestigious — are often at odds. Prestige has to do with generally acknowledged status or rank. The prestigious school is the one most people think is best. But, in reality, the best school is the one that’s best for you.
For many Christian students who are serious about their commitment to follow Jesus and want an education that prepares them for a life that makes a difference in this world for God’s kingdom, a private Christian university should be considered the most prestigious and best.
There are many reasons to suggest this, but I’ll just list a few.
The magic of education in a faith-based community
A college education doesn’t happen in isolation — it is a group process involving students, faculty, campus ministries, and student development personnel. Indeed, a large part of the learning happens outside the classroom. So the community one chooses to be part of during this process is critical to the quality of both the experience and the outcome. When this community is made up of fellow believers — sisters and brothers in Christ who share beliefs and purposes at the deepest levels — something supernatural hand utterly joyful takes place.
The power of relating academics to faith
Many Christian live compartmentalized lives. They know that Jesus cares about their education and that biblical truth should inform how they approach their studies and career, but they are frustrated at the lack of opportunity to integrate their lives of faith with their professional lives. The faculty at faith-based universities devote much of their thought and effort giving students the intellectual and theological tools to pull together every aspect of life — personal and public, worship and scholarship, family and work — into a unified whole. It is only in the Christian university that every aspect of every subject, including faith, can be fully explored. The outcome is life changing.
The joy of getting to be your authentic self
College is an incredible time of growth, discovery, and identity-building — not to mention it’s a time when we create many of our lifelong friendships. In secular schools, Christian students often feel like outsiders because their faith leads them to take an approach to identity development that is at odds with their professors or peers. At faith-based universities, students are free to fully live out God’s calling and to bring their whole person to every aspect of their education.
Excellence is in our spiritual DNA
There is a new generation of scholars of faith who have experienced the rigors of academic excellence and then have blazed new trails as Christian scholars. These scholars are driven by academic curiosity and excellence as a part of the Christian call. In Christian Universities, they are able to explore their academic pursuits, connect with human need, and pass on the passion for their field to the next generation of faithful scholars.
So for Christian students who are committed to becoming difference-makers for God’s kingdom, a private Christian college is the best and most prestigious option. Christian universities are committed to being a place of spiritual vitality and academic excellence. Additionally, the campus communities are dedicated to the holistic development of every student, so not just academic, but also spiritual, emotional, social, and even physical growth. We believe in our students and believe that they will be world-changers who powerfully engage with human need.
Source: AG News