Although I've been involved in Christian Higher Education the majority of my adult life, I still have much to learn about the field. One of the perspectives that I've not dealt with until recently, is that of looking at Christian colleges through the eyes of a parent. So in this newsletter, I'm considering this new perspective.
My parents and siblings were committed to Christian Higher Education. As a result, my brother, sister, and I, each attended a Christian college. Looking back on it now, I realize the commitment, and perhaps even the sacrifice, that was required on the part of my parents. I believe that our entire family would agree that attending a Christian college was a worthy and wise investment. What may surprise some is that neither myself nor my siblings ever attended a Christian school prior to college. We were not homeschooled, and we had never been in a Christian education environment. However, when it came to college, we viewed attending a Christian college as a top priority.
Now fast forward about twenty five years, and my oldest son is suddenly a sophomore in high school and it's time to start getting more serious about his college options. While Christian Higher Education continues to be an important part of my life, my hope is that each of my kids will see the advantages of attending a Christian college for themselves.
I realize that looking at college options as a parent offers a fresh perspective that I could not fully understand until now. I'm looking forward to the campus visits and the process of "walking beside" my son as he considers his options. I'm pleased that he is so receptive to attending a Christian college, but as each of you reading this likely know, there are a myriad of choices within the Christian college arena.
My son has not decided on a major or a career, so that does not help him narrow down the field. Even if he does make a decision now about a major, his plans could change months, or even years, from now. So for him, the variety of programs that a Christian college offers may be an important consideration. I know that whatever major, program, or career he decides to pursue, there are probably many Christian colleges that could successfully prepare him. It will be interesting to see what will stand out and impact him at the different schools he considers. I wonder if we'll have the same concerns and views regarding each of the schools he visits. For example, I would guess that the quality and variety of food choices at the college cafeteria may be one issue that weighs more heavily on him than it does on me.
One factor that will likely narrow down his options is his interest in competing athletically in college. There are Christian colleges that compete in NCAA Division I, II, and III levels, as well as NAIA. His ability level may also impact his decision. He will need to decide if he would prefer to compete at a higher level athletically where he may not be as strong, or at a school in a lower athletic division where he could be more competitive.
Location will be yet another issue to consider. My son is the independent, "ready to take on the world" type, and while it may be hard for good ole' dad to see him choose a school far from home, this is one of the issues that will likely be left more up to him.
It's great to have options, and Christian colleges today offer scores of choices - from location, to majors and programs, to athletics, to internships, to travel abroad options. I'm looking forward to the process. It should be a fun ride!
Written by Thom Seagren (parent of four)
The Christian Connector, Inc.