With over 1,000 faith-based universities throughout the United States, people may wonder what the pros and cons are regarding attending a faith-based college. There are schools that are non-denominational, some that are Catholic, others that are Lutheran, and still others that are Methodist.Some colleges offer a Christian world-view, although many also offer a secular curriculum. Just because an institution is connected to a specific denomination, does not mean it necessarily promotes that particular faith’s lifestyle. Here we took a look at the advantages and disadvantages of attending a faith-based college. In addition, we will compare a few of the higher ranking faith-based schools in the nation.
Pros of attending a faith-based college
Students may consider attending a faith-based college simply because it provides an environment of learning with like-minded individuals. Not everyone who enrolls into a religious university will have strong beliefs, but there will certainly be groups of people who do. While some assume this creates a bubble, it actually can work to expand world views. Moreover, there will be peers who help you solidify your beliefs. On the other hand, there will be classmates who hold a different perspective from yours on the world and on religion.
• Faith-based guidance: Many of these types schools offer guidance based upon Biblical beliefs. This means there is a sense of tradition that is not altered by the latest trends in secularism. You will get both spiritual and educational guidance. Some students appreciate the stability this provides, as they do not want experimental methods taking over their expectations.
• Wholesome activities: Peer pressure occurs at every college. However, faith-based colleges will emphasize the types of activities that do not steer you away from your faith. This does not mean you won’t have the ability to attend dances, movies, concerts or plays. You will get all of that and more. The difference is you will not necessarily be pushed into a way of life that contradicts your spiritual background.
• You get more than an undergraduate education: Some faith-based colleges also emphasize teaching a world view that is Biblically-based. For example, you may be required to take religious courses. Some will teach you to keep Christ first in your future plans. The objective at some of these schools is to keep you centered through your faith.
• You can build lifelong relationships with fellow believers: Faith-based colleges often place a priority on community and helping others. They also prioritize positive values such as love and charity. These are the types of attributes that can help build solid and long-lasting friendships with people of similar mindsets and morals.
Cons of attending a faith-based college
There are two sides to every coin. While thousands of students choose to attend a faith-based college, there are just as many who decide to take a more secular approach to their undergraduate and graduate studies. Here are some of the cons associated with a faith-based institution.
• Can be more expensive: Since faith-based colleges are often private, they can cost more than a public institution in your respective home state. Although they are tuition-driven, it is important to ensure you don’t graduate under a mound of debt.
• Academics may come second: For several Christian universities, academics take a backseat to religion. This is fine if you are studying to pursue a ministry. Although, if you are planning to join the global workforce immediately after graduation, you might want to seek out a more rigorous academic curriculum.
• May or may not be based on religion: Another con is some colleges utilize a faith-based moniker, but have become largely secular over the years. This would be a let down for students who are interested in expanding upon their faith. To avoid this potential let down, doing research as a prospective student is imperative.
• Can restrict your activities: Some smaller faith-based colleges have strict rules with regard to activities. For example, on some campuses, men and women aren’t even allowed to hold hands on campus. This can be difficult for some students to accept as an adult.
School Comparison: College of the Ozarks vs. Baylor University
Here we compare two academically challenging Christian colleges.
College of the Ozarks:
Many will be happy to find that tuition is completely free here, if you do get an acceptance letter. It has two campuses at Point Lookout near Branson and Hollister, Missouri. It only has an enrollment of around 1,433 and around one teacher for every 16 students.
Hence, class sizes are relatively small, and you will get to know both your professors and your classmates on a personal level. In exchange for free tuition, students are required to work 40 hours a week on breaks. During the school year, students have to work 15 hours a week. The school believes this work requirement adds character. In addition, it has been included on many “Best” lists, and awarded titles such as:
• Character Building College
• Best Buy
• 300 Best Buys in Higher Education
• Best College
• The Best 331 Colleges
Baylor University is of the Baptist denomination, chartered on February 1, 1845. It once had two separate schools, one all-female and the other all-male. In contrast to College of the Ozarks, this school is much larger, and currently enrolls around 16,000 full-time students from all over the nation and around 89 foreign countries. It also has around 260 clubs and organizations. As of 2016, the annual sticker price is $40,198, though financial aid certainly varies.
Some of the school’s rankings include:
• Best Colleges
• 12th Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
• Top 100 Law Schools
• Best Western College
• 2nd Best Marketing Program in the Nation
School Highlight: American Jewish University
This institution was founded as the University of Judaism in 1947 by Dr. Mordecai Kaplan. The objective was to create a college that expressed Judaic values. Until the 1970s, it was managed by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles. It then became a non-denominational college.
Another change took place in 2007 when the school was combined with the Brandeis-Bardin institute to become the American Jewish University. This private non-denominational college is located in Bel-Air, CA. As of 2016, its annual sticker price was $45,000. It enrolls just about 200 students, making it a uniquely small campus and environment.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to attending a faith-based college. Of course, like any other college search, the importance of each factor depends on the individual needs of the student. Your selection should be based on budget, academics, and programs that are best suited to your career objectives. In addition, you have to decide if you prefer smaller or larger class sizes. Moreover, you want to select a school that corresponds with your levels of comfort regarding the campus and spiritual leaning.