There are many issues to consider when determining college fit. Do you want to go to a large school or a smaller one? Does the east coast seem more like home, or do you long to live in California? All girls or co-ed? Is a Christian college always the best choice for a Christian student? There are pros and cons to attending a religiously-affiliated school, and it is important to think about both before choosing the ideal university.
There can be many positive aspects to attending a religiously affiliated school. You may find it empowering to be surrounded by like-minded people, and to have friends and professors who share your core beliefs. This atmosphere may deepen your convictions and strengthen your spirituality, while at the same time, teach you more about your religion. It may be easier to embrace and prioritize your faith with frequent reminders and encouragement from other students and staff members. Having religious services available on campus can be convenient, and makes it easier to regularly attend. Avoiding a party atmosphere is probably less difficult at a faith-based school. The best way to find out about its general ambiance is always to visit the campus and talk to current students. There may be more access to mentors, in the form of chaplains or other religious advisors, and more encouragement to make a difference by starting your own clubs and ministries, attending mission trips, and volunteering in faith-based organizations and charities.
On the other hand, only being around people who share your faith may result in an environment that lacks diversity, thus giving you limited exposure to different and opposing viewpoints. There are fewer opportunities to challenge and question your beliefs than there might be at secular schools, and many believe that faith actually strengthens when faced with challenges. Stricter rules and regulations may be in place at religiously-affiliated schools, including dress codes and curfews. They sometimes prohibit alcohol consumption, even for 21-year-olds, and mingling between men and women. Since non secular schools are often smaller and private, they may cost more to attend, and offer fewer majors due to their size. It is important to note that many of these universities promote one particular worldview, and may discourage students from adhering to other opinions and ideas about their religion. Sometimes students are given extra coursework that doesn’t directly pertain to their major, such as required chapel visits. These may carry penalties for non-participation.
The bottom line is that every school is different, just like each individual student and their respective wants and needs. If possible, visit all the schools in which you are interested. Talk to current students to get a feel for the general attitudes and perceptions on campus. Research each college as much as possible. Not all religiously-affiliated schools are the same, even if they promote the same religion. Don’t pick a school solely based on its religious leanings, but rather on all the positive personal and academic aspects that make it a good fit.
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