There are regular universities, and then there are faith-based universities that incorporate religious teachings into the secular, everyday curriculum. There are plenty of them out there, and like your average, public university, religious universities have plenty to offer. However, is attending a faith-based college right for you, and if the answer is yes, what exactly are the pros and cons of doing so?
Faith-based colleges are often reported to have a good sense of community and togetherness on campus. Not only are students able to incorporate religious studies with secular studies, but they are also able to maintain their religious views as a strong point in their lives.
Of course, a lot of the benefits of a faith-based college could be considered as a matter of personal opinion, so whether you attend a religious university or not is entirely up to you and your preferences. However, there are a few details that will most likely have an enormous impact on your decision. So, without further ado, here are a few benefits of attending a faith-based college!
At a religious university, you will be able to find diversity and unity all on the same campus. One of the main reasons that students congregate at faith-based colleges is so they can find a thousand different people but still share core beliefs with pretty much everybody they come into contact with.
The largest difference between religious and non-religious schools is the fact that one of them encourages the instruction of religious material and one does not.
But you probably didn’t know that there were different kinds of religious schools, did you?
Every religious school has its differences and its field of emphasis. Let’s take a look at a few different kinds of schools and see what the differences are exactly.
As you have probably guessed, bible colleges focus narrowly on the teachings of theology and the bible itself. If you want a religious education with a specific focus on the bible and the teachings of Christianity, this is probably the kind of school you ought to attend. This kind of university is the most popular type among those studying to become ministers or enter the field of missionary work.
Traditional religious schools are a little closer to what you would find at a regular university. They commonly offer a large variety of programs for both graduate students and undergraduate students. You can find a series of different degree programs from mathematics to the liberal arts at these traditional schools.
Not all subjects will be religion-based, naturally, but religious perspectives will be integrated into all of the courses. This is a popular option because it allows students the opportunity to have an ordinary/traditional type of education, as well as have their faith and beliefs incorporated into their daily lives.
Seminaries are very similar to bible schools in that they prepare students for a future in ministry. However, they offer a much larger scope of things to study, as well as preparation for a broader field of work (ministers, priests, pastors, church leaders, etc.).
Seminaries are a good choice for students who want an education focused on Christianity and scriptural study but also want a wide range of subjects they can study as well.
Hopefully, by now you understand a little more what religious colleges have to offer and the kind of things you can expect to learn if you attend one.
Next, let’s talk about the the pros and cons of going to a religious school. Knowing those should help you be able to make an informed decision about what kind of school you should be going to.
Related Article: How to Become a Pastor
Faith-Based College: The Pros and Cons
While faith-based colleges do have their differences to be sure, you can find a lot of what you would expect to find at a regular school at a faith-based university. There are still several pros and cons to discuss, however, because knowing those will undoubtedly help you to solidify your decision.
Community is one of the primary reasons that students choose faith-based colleges.
The academics themselves at religious schools have been reported to be higher-quality than those of regular universities. Dual-curriculum or integrated curriculum models are often employed at most of these kinds of schools, and you can expect to gain a seriously high-quality education if you choose to attend one.
Many students prefer to have their faith integrated into every aspect of their lives, including educational aspects. With religious universities, that is made 100% possible.
While religious universities won’t (or at least shouldn’t) force their beliefs onto a student, those religious perspectives will be taught in the classroom and incorporated into the curriculum. If you attend a Christian college, you can be sure to experience a faith-based journey in the classroom.
A lot of students find it easier to trust in and understand the words of their teachers at Christian colleges. Sometimes it is difficult to derive context and meaning in certain lectures, especially if the teacher has expressed viewpoints that are completely contrary to yours.
With professors who have faith-filled backgrounds, you will be able to understand their meaning and glean much more from your learning experience.
Sometimes it can be incredibly hard to find a place with religious services at college. Naturally, at a faith-based college, this won’t even remotely be an issue. Not only will you be able to integrate faith-based principles into the things you learn at school, but you will also be able to worship on Sunday in the way you wish to do so.
Religious teachings are often in aid of helping people to discover who they are and what is important to them. Having that kind of uplifting environment nearby on a 24/7 basis is a great way for you to feel comfortable and at ease, all the while developing passions and purpose in your life.
While this may not sound ideal to some, it has, overall, been proven that a religious background or education can help people to find fulfillment in life.
Additionally, if you are interested in having a well-rounded friend group that is made up of diverse faiths, a Christian college is the place for you. While you will be almost guaranteed to find friends with the same values that you have, you will also have the opportunity to experience meeting those with diverse faiths too. This can help teach tolerance and love.
Christian colleges help center your knowledge and give your ever-expanding worldviews a good foundation upon which you can always rely. When you go to college for the first time, you will likely find that this expansion of knowledge is overwhelming to the point where you are no longer sure what you believe.
Attending a faith-based college will help you to remain firm in what you grew up learning, while at the same time preparing you for whatever the world will bring.
If nothing else, attending a religious university will allow you to practice and strengthen your faith through everyday activities. You will find faith at every turn, essentially. You will be encouraged to worship Christ in all that you do (including social activities). You will also have the opportunity to prepare for a future in the Christian world, which is a serious ambition for many.
Thankfully, as far as religious universities are concerned, the pros far outweigh the cons. However, there are still a couple of downsides to consider before enrollment begins. Here are a few of the most common ones.
While this is not true of every faith-based college, students may find that it is extremely easy to form cliques. Having constant exposure to people with the same values as you is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it does make it easier for some students to feel that they should avoid or exclude others with different beliefs.
Some students at Christian universities will often feel like they are surrounded by people with limited points of view, or rather, experience limited exposure to others with different points of view.
This is true—most students at religious schools will find themselves surrounded only by those who share their worldviews. While this is comforting to some, others find it to be restrictive and perhaps less diverse than they’d prefer.
And speaking of restriction, most religious universities will, of course, have stricter rules than public universities do. Students at religious universities are most often held to a much higher standard than other students are.
However, many students tend to feel that this is a suffocating fact. If you are not good at obeying rules (especially strict ones), you may prefer a regular college to a Christian one.
Whether or not a Christian college is the school for you should be a very personal choice. If you greatly value the practice and teaching of religion in your life (and in the lives of those you associate with) then a faith-based college is undoubtedly a safe choice.
If you would prefer more relaxed policies and a chance to have non-religious classrooms, you could probably be fine sticking with a regular school. This is completely your choice!
Commonly Asked Questions
Can I attend a faith-based college if I am not religious?
Because all schools are different, all of them have different admission policies and rules. For the most part, religious schools will not turn anybody away regardless of their religious views or if they have any at all. It is rare to find a school that will be that harsh.
The only difference between religious schools and non-religious schools is that they abolish the division between church and state. A few more strict faith-based schools might have harsher rules than others and might make admission more difficult or more expensive for those who do not practice the same beliefs.
Sports and School Culture in Religious Colleges
Another common concern is whether or not faith-based colleges have the same kind of extracurricular activities and sports programs that regular schools do. Most of them have athletic programs that are somewhat modified and not quite as well known as those of public universities, but they remain nonetheless and with just as much conviction and integrity as other programs have.
Are religious universities more expensive?
On the contrary, religious schools are far less expensive for the most part. While other schools could be charging as much as $50,000 for tuition yearly, religious schools are often far less pricey than that. Brigham Young University and its other branches, for example, charge around $2,895-$4,895 per semester, which is a great deal cheaper than most public universities.
For this reason, faith-based or Christian colleges are quite popular in certain areas. However, not all schools are the same, and since most religious schools are privately funded, you may find yourself needing to take out student loans for going to a Christian college.
You will have to decide for yourself whether that’s worth it or not.
Are religious universities smaller or larger?
Because most Christian colleges are private and privately funded, they are a good deal smaller than most traditional schools. This means the class sizes will be smaller, as well as the population of the university as a whole (though keep in mind that this does vary by school as well).
Some universities will have populations as small as 5,000 students or less, which means certain classes could be as small as seven or so students.
This often makes it a little easier to register and get into the classes you need. However, this might also mean that the teachers and classes available are somewhat limited.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.