Virtual Voices

Christian college choices

Religion

Parents regularly send me letters asking for recommendations about Christian colleges for bright students. I have a few.

Those seeking small but well-established colleges with a Reformed sensibility might look at Covenant and Geneva colleges. For some more broadly evangelical, Wheaton beckons. For Christian students who want a big school and for serious athletes, Liberty University is worth a look. Those looking for a Great Books program should inquire about the Torrey Honors program at Biola in Los Angeles. For those desiring solidly conservative politics, Hillsdale and Grove City are outstanding.

Three new colleges deserve a look. For those seeking a protected environment and then a fast track to Washington, Patrick Henry College is appealing. For those seeking a tiny but intellectually-intense school, Gutenberg College in Oregon might be interesting. For those who want cultural engagement or a good start in business, and are capable of handling the challenge of New York City, The King's College (with classrooms and offices in the Empire State Building) makes sense.

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I'm partial to King's because I serve as provost there, but I generally write back to parents that it's hard for me to make recommendations without knowing the student who will be attending: A good college for one student might be terrible for another. Plus, I haven't yet eyeballed well-regarded Christian colleges like Cedarville, Union, and many others.

Some questions I'd ask when visiting any Christian college: Does it implicitly teach that Christians should be separatists from society, appeasers of it, or transformers of it? (I recommend the latter.) Does the college fall into legalism concerning movies, music, etc.? Is spiritual life vibrant or rote? Are students engaged in classes that are small enough to demand thoughtful participation? Are professors narrowly specialized and intent on playing to other academics, or are they excited by the play of ideas and the practical applications that result? Does the college emphasize internships and other means of helping students recognize their calling?

I'd want to make sure a Christian college isn't merely a secular lookalike with a chapel added on. It's good to ask professors exactly how they teach differently than they would in a secular environment. It's important to sit in on classes, ask for syllabi, and talk with students. As always, trust but verify.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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