This post is by Syler Thomas.
Years ago, when I started meeting with my student leaders about how to make a good college choice, I did my best to not let my bias come across, but I don’t know how successful I was. Because I had had such a great experience being tested and shaped by my time at a secular university (yes, DePaul is Catholic…I am here contrasting overtly Christian universities whose education is centered around the assumption that its students are overtly Christian as well, which was not the case at DePaul), I would often encourage students in that direction. The older I have gotten, the more students I have seen whose faith has gotten chewed up at secular schools, and the closer my own children get towards heading off to college myself, I have come to appreciate all that a Christian university has to offer. I still believe with all of my heart that we should encourage our young people to pursue an education at secular institutions, but I also see what a great experience Christian schools offer.
In my chapter on “surviving a Christian school,” in my new book Game Plan, some Wheaton grads helped me out a great deal with some of their insights. I talk about some good and bad reasons to go to a Christian school. A good reason: your parents will only pay for you to go to one. A bad reason: you want to find a good spouse. My favorite story along those lines is a former student of mine who named that as Reason #1 he went to a Christian school. Naturally, he started dating a girl from our youth group just before he left for college, and married her six years later!
But I talk about some things to keep in mind at a Christian university, the most important of which is to not let the school replace the student’s relationship with God. This can be true in seminary as well. If you spend your day discussing and debating spiritual things, it’s easy for your relationship with God to become complacent, for God to become this thing you only talk about, but don’t stop to worship.
OK Christian college grads…what would you say? If you had one thing to tell a college freshman heading to a Christian university, what would it be?