College ConsiderationsWhat's the Spiritual Climate?
August 10, 2016
For Christians seeking higher education, one of the most important things to think about is the spiritual climate of the college. Whether you choose to attend a secular or Christian school, it is crucial that you take the time and effort to analyze the spiritual environment of every program you consider.
As you’re thinking about your next step for college programs, here’s a sample rubric for you to start with:
1. How does the school help you pursue your unique life calling?
God has uniquely chosen you for something specific to advance His kingdom and impact the world for Him! One thing you have to accept when attending college is that it will change and shape you. Many times the school’s environment of people, activities and groups will affect you as a person more than your actual studies. While it is tempting to think only of the specific degree you will be pursuing to help you accomplish your life’s goals, it is important to remember that you will not complete your studies in a vacuum!
How will the school experience as a whole help you pursue your unique life calling? Are the teachers instructing from a biblical worldview? What student life activities are likely to attract you? Are there student discipleship programs that will enrich your personal spiritual growth? Identifying the elements that will affect who you become as a person in your life calling is just as (if not more) important as identifying how the school will help you achieve your career goals.
One thing you have to accept when attending college is that it will change and shape you.
There are more reasons than ever for pursuing a college degree. With that being the case, there’s less and less demand for one-size-fits-all programs and more alternatives that are becoming available. As you explore your different options, consider what your goals are and determine which program can propel you forward in fulfilling your life calling most effectively.
2. Does the program actively encourage personal development?
The college experience should never stunt personal growth and development. Rather, a healthy college environment actively engages with and challenges students to build their personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Many colleges today approach education with an agenda. Instead of promoting individual learning and critical thinking, they seek to undermine Biblical values and are hostile to anyone who contradicts their conclusions. The results are students that feel crippled in their faith and lack the ability to discern between truth and what the academia world says.
However, when students are allowed and even encouraged to approach their academic studies from a Biblical perspective, they are then able to realize that their beliefs do not need to be at odds with science and objective analyses. In fact, having that Biblical worldview becomes an advantage as they are even better equipped to recognize logical fallacies and underlying patterns to human error.
A healthy college environment actively engages with and challenges students to build their personal faith in Jesus Christ.
3. What drives the student life culture of the school?
College is a learning and growing experience, and the impact it has in shaping you does not stop the moment you exit the classroom. Charlie Tremendous Jones once said, “You’ll be the same five years from now as you are today except for the people you meet and the books that you read.” The people you surround yourself with have a profound impact on you, and so it is important that you delve into what drives the student life culture of the school.
What kinds of extracurricular activities and opportunities are provided by the college? What is the focus of these activities? What kind of student-led groups exist? What sorts of events do these groups promote and plan? Where does the focus of the students seem to be in their times of relaxation? Find out if the focus of the students is more centered on partying or life callings and growth. Look into whether the activities most sought out by students build character and serve others or are self-serving.
When building relationships, the environment must be a consideration, partially because certain environments will attract certain kinds of people, but also because the depth and way you get to know someone is largely determined upon what you are doing together. You get to know a person differently when you are on a mission trip or volunteering at a soup kitchen or a work day than you will when going to a movie or a party or a dance. Sports and board games bring out different characteristics than studying and class time.
There should be a healthy balance that will help you build relationships effectively.
The people you surround yourself with have a profound impact on you, and so it is important that you delve into what drives the student life culture of the school.
College is a crucial step in developing yourself as a person when pursuing your life calling. When considering which college to choose, do not neglect the important element of spiritual climate! Asking questions like the ones contained in this blog post about how the college will affect your unique life calling, whether it will encourage spiritual development, and what drives the student life culture, are vital elements to consider when making your choice.
Remember the old real estate adage: “Location, location, location!” Spiritually, we must take “environment, environment, environment” into consideration.
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