College Preparation vs. Protection

While there are many reasons to choose a Christian college, there are also some perspectives regarding Christian colleges that may not be appropriate.

One of those perspectives is that attending a Christian college provides a "sheltered" environment. While it's likely that a Christian college setting can offer a "safe" place to attend school, I believe that choosing a Christian college because you believe it provides a "sheltered" environment really misses the mark.

It's important to make a distinction between the literal definition of a "safe environment" and the concept of remaining "sheltered". I believe that considering a Christian college for the purpose of remaining "sheltered" from the outside world is an unhealthy reason for choosing a Christian college. As a matter of fact, Christian colleges should provide an atmosphere that stretches and challenges the student in unique ways, rather than giving the student an opportunity to hide from the "real world." This is a critical distinctive, as Christian colleges can provide more opportunities and a unique perspective in focusing the student on real world issues than secular campuses may offer.

The Christian life calls us to a spirit of engagement where getting our hands dirty and being in uncomfortable and "real world" situations is the expectation. A Christian college's job is to prepare the student for the real world...not protect them from it. One of the great benefits of a Christian college is that it can challenge the student to become involved in a hurting world - reminding the student that this is fundamental to Christ-likeness. This perspective, and desire to impact our world for Christ, should be a driving force in the mission of every Christian college, and it represents a unique viewpoint that separates the Christian college from the secular institution.

One practical way the Christian college demonstrates this perspective is by providing opportunities for the student to engage in what is happening in our world today. Impacting the community where the college is located is one way this can occur. The opportunity to mentor and tutor students, to serve in a community clean-up, or be involved in ministry to the homeless, are just a few of the many ways Christian college students can embrace the local area.

Real world involvement and ministry in college should be a focus for every Christian student, and Christian colleges should provide more opportunities for this challenge than other schools. The student who views the Christian college environment as a "pit-stop" before entering the world of the job market is missing one of the important distinctives of attending a Christian college.

Whether the student wishes to be involved in the local community, in the nearby church, building homes in Honduras, doing street evangelism in Russia, or serving orphans in Kenya, the Christian college environment should provide the resources to jump in with both feet in the "real world" from day one. This is a dramatic contrast from viewing the Christian college as a way to take it easy for four years before beginning one's life. Christian colleges can provide great on the job training - whether your goal is to serve Christ in the corporate world, become involved in full-time ministry, teach children in a public school, or begin the next great American business.

So forget about being "sheltered" when you consider Christian colleges and start thinking about the unique opportunities you will have to embrace culture today...opportunities that won't wait until after you have earned your college diploma.

Thom Seagren
The Christian Connector, Inc.
Christian College Grad, 1987