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7 Christian college myths debunked

October 29, 2014 | Ian Richardson


Over the years, you may have heard a few stereotypes about what life at a typical Christian college is like. But many of these stereotypes are actually misperceptions.

For this reason, some of our Evangel University faculty, staff and students are helping us take on seven common myths about Christian higher education and show you what life is really like on a Christian college campus.

Myth #1: “Christian college is only for future pastors and missionaries.”

Some people confuse Christian universities with Bible colleges, which are meant to equip pastors and missionaries for the vocational ministry. Christian universities, however, focus on a comprehensive education, one that equips not only future members of the clergy but also future doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers and many other professions that are equally important to the ministry.

Over the years, Evangel has sent more than 14,500 graduates into the workforce to be effective Christians through their careers, whatever their vocational calling may be.

“The vast majority of EU alumni are in careers that have them contributing to society and earning income via roles in business, arts, sciences, education, government — the list is endless,” Chuck Cox, director of alumni relations, says. “They are making this world better through the application of their unique gifts and talents.”

Myth #2: “A Christian education isn’t a high-quality education.”

To maintain accreditation, private Christian institutions actually answer to the same standards as any institution of higher education. These standards monitor the university faculty’s degrees, the length of class times, testing practices and attendance policies.

christian college myths debunked“When students are looking for quality, they should look for the experiences and credentials of the faculty, length and requirements of the programs, and other such measures of excellence,” says Dr. Diane Awbrey, Evangel’s core curriculum director. “I think they will find that being Christian doesn’t really interfere with those kinds of standards.”

Dr. Robert Berg, professor of New Testament, says that some people may have a bias against the quality of a Christian education because they believe the education is too narrow-minded. However, Berg says the ability to integrate faith and learning in the same environment gives a Christian education more of a holistic value than a secular education since faith and learning are not seen as separate entities.

“Students at a Christian university have a distinct advantage in making sense of the world,” Berg says. “We are not here to constrict a young mind, but to liberate it to see the profound coherence between what God has revealed in the Bible and what God has revealed in the natural world.”

Senior Biblical Studies and English double-major Jeremiah Barker says he believes Evangel has done a good job preparing him for graduate school. He says the knowledgeable professors have helped him improve his critical reading skills and that the small size of the college has helped him grow relationally with his peers.

“Most class enrollment numbers are small–typically 15 or less–and these numbers augment chances for meaningful discussions,” Barker says.

Myth #3: “A Christian education isn’t affordable.”

Compared with other private universities, Christian colleges are actually competitive when it comes to the cost, especially one like Evangel University.

“Evangel is one of the most affordable private schools in the country,” says Hector Cruz, Evangel’s lead financial aid counselor. Though he acknowledges that local state schools are harder to compete with price-wise, Cruz says there are more considerations than simply the price.

“Students are also considering the quality of the education and experience that they will receive, and I think that, along with the track record of our alumni, is what makes Evangel extremely competitive,” he says.

Another difference is the personal approach to financial aid that Cruz and his fellow financial aid counselors take during the admissions process.

“Our financial aid office goes above and beyond when trying to communicate the process and different options to our students,” Cruz says. “In the weeks leading up to the beginning of the semester, the financial aid counselors are receiving and sending over 1,000 email messages every week.”

Myth #4: “Christian colleges aren’t any fun because of all the rules.”

Though a Christian university’s definition of “fun” may be different from what you think of when you’re watching a movie about college, it’s a much more genuine kind, says Christy Rowden, Evangel’s student activities director.

“It’s about the types of relationships that you form, and because of that the fun really comes more from who you’re hanging out with than what you’re doing most of the time, too,” Rowden says.

With dozens of clubs and organizations and with student activities happening almost daily, Rowden says students at a college like Evangel can have as much fun as they have time for. All you have to do is be willing to get involved.

Myth #5: “Christian colleges want to indoctrinate you with their denominational beliefs.”

Even though Evangel is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, the school accepts students of a variety of Christian backgrounds. And instead of trying to “indoctrinate” new students into a specific denominational mindset, the required Bible classes instead help each student, regardless of personal beliefs, to examine the important issues of faith for himself or herself.

Berg says he enjoys having classes where a variety of perspectives are present. He says the approach of owning one’s faith rather than simply accepting doctrine is the approach students need in order to survive in the world today.

“Indoctrination is not concerned with thought but with conformation,” Berg says. “For Christian faith to thrive in an increasingly secular environment, it will take more than mouthing core beliefs and practices. It will take ownership of them.”

Shannyn Wong, a 2014 Evangel graduate, says she initially feared that her nondenominational background might be a hinderance at Evangel. “What I have come to know and love about Evangel is that not growing up AG doesn’t matter at Evangel,” she says. Read her blog on this topic: Baptist? Lutheran? Non-denominational? No problem!

girls dormMyth #6: “Everyone goes to Christian college to find a spouse.”

You may find your future spouse at college. A lot of people do. But the idea that everyone comes here to get married before graduation is an outdated, and largely untrue, stereotype.

A Christian education is about finding your calling and growing in Christ in every area of life. While that may involve finding a spouse along the way, people who don’t get the infamous “ring by spring” aren’t doing anything wrong.

“The college years are such a critical time where you are asking those big questions, thinking deeply about who you are, and where God is guiding your life,” says Sheri Phillips, vice president for Student Development. “For some, that may involve building a healthy relationship with a person you want to spend your life with, developing a clearer sense of God’s callings in your life or preparing for your vocation.”

Myth #7: “Christian colleges only want students who are ‘spiritual’ enough.”

If you’re worried that you’re not a “good enough” Christian to attend a Christian college, put your fears to rest. There’s no magic spirituality calculator that you have to measure up to in order to get in. In fact, every person at Evangel, from the youngest student to the oldest administrator, will tell you he or she is still spiritually maturing.

“We are all works in progress, and none of us ‘measure up’ on our own,” Phillips says. “Thankfully, God takes each of us where we are at and guides us in growing.”

What is most important is that you come to college ready to see what God has in store for you and take advantage of the opportunities to continue to grow in your walk with Christ.

For senior Music major Matt Elenbaas, involvement in CROSSwalk student ministries and Chapel worship teams have been instrumental in helping him grow spiritually.

“Going to a Christian school has definitely helped develop my faith through the last few years,” he says. “I have been both challenged and encouraged through my time at Evangel. Having opportunities to serve others takes the focus off of me and encourages a Christ-like attitude.”

Christian colleges like Evangel incorporate Christ into all areas of community life. From floor devotions to Chapel services to professors praying before classes, you will find that a place like Evangel will encourage you to grow in your faith, wherever you may be spiritually.