A big question for Christian teenagers is what to do after high school. For those who decide to pursue further education, this includes whether or not to attend a Christian or public post-secondary institution. Having had the opportunity to attend both, I can honestly say that there are pros and cons to each.
When I first transferred from my esteemed business school to begin attending a smaller Christian liberal arts university, I was worried that I was jeopardizing my future. How wrong I was. When I attended my large public school, I was excited for all of the opportunities. I was going to do a co-op in my later years – gaining good work experience and the chance to network and build connections in my industry. There were countless clubs and organizations to get involved with. There was the “more highly esteemed” degree.
At my smaller Christian liberal arts school, there are also many opportunities for growth. My classes are very small, so it’s easy for me to get to know my professors and build connections in my industry. Small classroom size makes it easier to ask questions and gain a clearer understanding of the coursework.
In other words, there are opportunities at both schools. Both schools have clubs and organizations for networking, building relationships and gaining volunteer experience. Both schools provide the opportunity for students to grow in their faith. Christian institutions provide a strong, faith-based community. Most public institutions have several different Christian clubs and organizations where students can also find a strong community and grow in their faith. Both types of schools have courses that will challenge students and allow them to develop practical skills such as public speaking, time management and conflict resolution.
Resist the urge to coast
You get the point. There are particular benefits to being at either type of school. Yet both schools share one common danger: the temptation to sit back. To be just a number. To breeze through the four years, only making an effort to get a degree. To skip setting up a co-op or getting to know your professors. To avoid joining clubs. To resist volunteering. To not ask for clarity in course work or not work hard on all assignments. To dodge faith-growing events and put off actively seek out the Lord.
What I want to emphasize is that there is no inherent “better” choice. Small Christian institutions as well as large public institutions both have incredible opportunities for students to learn, develop their gifts and effectively prepare for their future. You see, I don’t think it’s about Christian versus public. I don’t think it’s about small versus large. I don’t think it’s about prestigious versus lesser-known. When it comes down to it, I think that education is about willingness. It’s about what we as students are willing to commit. Are we going to be proactive in building connections, developing our gifts, growing in our faith? Or are we going to just go through the motions in order to get a degree? I do not think that education is only extrinsic. Yes, there are certain matters that people should take into account when considering schools. You want a certain standard of excellence and certain opportunities. Yet school is, I would argue, a lot more intrinsic than many students would like to admit. We do not want to focus on the fact that we get more out of our education when we put more into it.
I think that education and how we interact with it is a matter of obedience and faith. God calls us to work at things with all our heart, as serving him. Just like the Christian life, education is not static based on your situation or surrounding. It’s what you make of it, who you choose to surround yourself with, and if you decide to invest in a personal relationship with God or not. While in university, if we root ourselves in Christ, if we work hard to serve him in our education, and leave him room to direct our steps, then we have nothing to fear.
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