How do you choose a college? Here's some information to help!
Why Attend a Christian College?
Over the past several years, I have found that many students (and parents) have misconceptions about Christian colleges. Some students think that all you can do is study to be a pastor or missionary. This is not the case. Our Christian colleges in this day offer a multitude of majors and programs that reach into multiple career areas. However, the issues at stake are much greater than what course of study you choose. Several recent studies by the Barna Group over the past ten years have consistently concluded that “16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations when they were at the same stage of life.” Furthermore, a few years ago several denominations did studies among their own young people to see if some kind of a figure could be placed on the attrition rate of Christian young people from their faith after leaving high school and attending secular institutions of higher learning. Most found that the rate in the early 2000’s was anywhere between 60% to 90%. Not all the figures were easily verifiable but even if these studies were partially correct these are alarming numbers. John Stonestreet and Chuck Edwards wrote about this in an essay called “Students Abandoning the Faith“. They noted the findings of the “College Student Survey” when they said:
Comparing the responses of freshmen who checked the “born again” category with the answers they gave four years later, we find that on some campuses as high as 59 percent no longer describe themselves as “born again.” That’s a fallout rate of almost two-thirds!
Although many Christian young people I have known have kept their faith intact while attending state, community, and private secular colleges and universities, those students have to be very active and aware in their Christian worldview. However, many young people fresh out of high school are not ready for the immediate challenges to their faith as soon as they enter the secular college classroom.The biggest difference between secular institutions and Bible-believing Christian colleges is the perspective. Secular schools are highly influenced, if not completely indoctrinated, by secularism. Secularism (sometimes referred to as secular humanism) denies God’s work as the sole cause of the universe, practically puts down the creation and the Creator, and declares man is just a highly evolved animal. If you want to know more, visit the American Humanist Association website to read their beliefs. Secular education is saturated by this philosophy.
As a result, I have felt compelled over the past 20 years to highly endorse Christian college education over secular education. The fact is that for the Christian, the true follower of Jesus Christ, there is no way to separate what is sacred from what is secular in the life of the believer. I am concerned that we as believers are losing this generation to postmodernism and relativism and even nihilism. The following video by posted by Prager University addresses the problem in university-level education in western culture.
Thankfully, God has blessed a number of colleges and universities with strong Christian beliefs to highly expand their programs into a multitude of fields that can appeal to all believers whether they have been guided into “full-time” Christian work or not.
Dr. Paul Chappell, Senior Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California, wrote a terrific article entitled “Why I Recommend One Year of Bible College” that is definitely worth your time to read.
My plea for you as a student or as a parent is to start today to pray about where you or your child go for further training after high school. Even if your child is only in kindergarten, pray now. The people who hold the greatest influence over the hearts and minds of you or your children will determine the character of the next generation; in the local church, in workplace, and in society as a whole. Please pray for God’s guidance and direction. Parents, if you haven’t been doing this so far. Forget about yesterday. Just start now and pray for the wisdom of God in the heart and mind of your child!
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
If you would like more information about specific colleges, contact the school office by phone or email.
How Do I Survive in a College Environment That is Hostile to My Faith?
One of the realities for many of our students is that after high school graduation they may find themselves attending a secular college or university for part or all of their college experience. In these private and/or public academic settings, our graduates sometimes encounter a college professor and a classroom full of fellow students who do not share their Christian worldview. What do you do when what is being taught seems to subtly or overtly question or disrespect the religious and spiritual values you hold? What do you do when your college classroom experience starts to make you doubt your beliefs about Jesus? First, you must know what you believe. Second, you need to seek help from those who have been down the same path and have emerged with their faith intact. Third, be prepared to stand for your faith! Sean McDowell wrote an article called “How Can You Best Defend Your Faith in Class?”
Let me encourage you to read this article and talk to us at CCA to be ready for your transition to the non-Christian college environment. We are committed to helping you become a strong believer, a surrendered follower of Jesus Christ so that God can use YOU to change the world!
Questions to Consider…
When seeking an institution of higher learning, many questions come to mind.
- Where do you start to find out about colleges that offer the programs in which I’m interested?
- Where do I go to find about the kinds of colleges for which I’m looking?
- Which college is better for me? Small or large? 2 year or 4 year?
Choosing the Right College or University
When considering the best institution for higher learning, one of the most important considerations is what they are teaching. Each year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) asks the question, “What Will They Learn?” ACTA surveys colleges and universities annually to find out if certain basic elements of a well-rounded liberal arts education are being effectively covered without an excessive amount of political or philosophical bias. The following excerpt is from ACTA’s most recent release.
“What Will They Learn? Not much, according to ACTA’s What Will They Learn?™ study.
Our survey of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities reveals that less than 20% require their students to study U.S. History; just 13% require foreign language study; and a measly 3% require the study of economics.
We aren’t the only ones shocked by these findings. Today’s Wall Street Journal covers our report, noting the connection between historical illiteracy and curricular decline. And the Washington Examiner highlights the exorbitant costs students often pay for a “liberal arts” education that is anything but.
What Will They Learn?™ also brings good news from schools like Christopher Newport University—the first public university in the country to achieve a perfect ACTA “A!” As President Paul Trible told the Journal, “We believe that acquaintance with these seven subjects is essential to building a strong foundation for a meaningful and consequential life.”
If you want to find out about a college, start by checking out that college’s website.
Colleges and universities have basic entrance requirements. Although each institution sets its own standards, there are fairly consistent elements that include minimum high school core credits, grade point average, and college entrance test scores. Here some of the most common requirements.
4-Year College Entrance Requirements
1. The high school credits expected are:
3 Science (2 including lab)
3 Social studies
2 Foreign/World Language
2. Beyond required courses, colleges often want to see 2 additional core credits (resulting in at least 18 purely academic course credits).
3. ACT or College Board SAT scores.
Note: Following the Calvary Christian Academy Guidelines will meet or exceed the standard college entrance requirements, including receiving a fully accredited high school diploma.
Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to keep track of the admissions requirements for your preferred institutions. For, example, if your first choice college requires 3 years of a foreign or world language, it is your responsibility to make sure you complete all 3 credits before the end of high school.
What do college admissions counselors look for?
A good guide to the academic expectations of college admissions counselors is to follow the State University Admissions Requirements for the state of Florida. If you are seriously considering an out-of-state college/university, you should definitely check out that state’s policies. However, the following link is a good starting point.
Here is last year’s matrix of information about new student enrollment. This will give you a good idea not only of the minimum entrance requirements but also the averages of those who started college last year at the state universities in Florida. Click on the link below to download an Excel file of the information.
The All-Important Recommendation Letter!
Many times students will request a teacher's recommendation letter for college. This is helpful since the teachers have seen how the student interacts and works on a daily basis. Recommendation letters can help validate the information the student provided on the college application. The College Board’s Big Future website has a great article called “How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation” that outlines the “who, when, and how” of getting a recommendation.
It is also important to consider the counselor's recommendation letter. In the Huffington Post, an article entitled “The Truth About Counselor Recommendation Letters” describes how such a letter should be composed. More importantly, the author highlights how critical it is for the counselor to know as much as possible about the student. The grades, GPA’s, and list of school activities only go so far. But, the counselor has a unique perspective in that he/she sees the student in comparison with their peers on a broader scale and can provide “some educated insight on how you behave as a student in a specific environment among other students”.
There is a new (and eye-opening) website created by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni that gives you one place to see the actual costs and efficiency of colleges. Go to How Colleges Spend Money. You can compare colleges for cost but also for graduation rate. If a college has a 60-80% graduation rate for those in 4 year degree programs, you can be confident that they have built a culture that encourages students to succeed. If on the other hand, a college only has a 20-30% graduation rate, some very serious questions about the intent and execution of the college advisory system must be asked.
- Is the college truly following a plan to help students transition into a career? OR
- Is the school content to collect fees without guiding students to finish?
When weighing the costs of college, consider using a college cost calculator like…
- Big Future College Cost Calculator
- Calculator.net College Cost Calculator
- FinAid College Cost Calculator
Be wise in your decisions about where to prepare yourself for the rest of your life!
Please consider these additional articles and links to help in the college admissions process…
My College Options Website Articles
College Preparation from Kindergarten through 12th grade
- Do You Know How Much You Can Afford for College?
- What sets you apart from other students applying to the same school?
Searching for Good Information on Finding the Right College?
Each year, CCA gets copies of the Florida Trend's NEXT magazine. You can also take a look at the Florida Trend's NEXT Magazine website for some great articles!
What can You Do with a 2 Year College Degree?
With the constantly changing technology market, some professions have changed dramatically over the past ten years. Business Insider magazine published an article entitled The 40 highest-paying jobs you can get without a bachelor’s degree. This is definitely worth reading. It is becoming apparent in our culture that some professions just do not require a 4 year degree to start.
Playing Sports in College
For those students who wish to continue playing sports in college, there are sometimes additional opportunities for scholarships through college sports. If the college you are considering is a member of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), you will need to register at the NCAA website. For information on how to connect with college scouts, please contact our athletic director, Mr. Michael Humber.
Does everyone need to go to college?
In this day and age when so many college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, this is a valid question. Although we recognize that college is not the choice for everyone, it is an excellent choice for many. Real Clear Education has a good article to assist you as you consider this question. Just click on the following link: Why Go to College? Student Perspectives on Higher Ed.