So you decided to go a Christian school, and wonder what to expect. Late night prayer walks? Communion Mondays? Meeting “the one” the first week of school?
Maybe I can dispel a myth or two and supply few tips to help you go in as a Christian and, more important, also leave as one.
1. A Christian School is No Place to Put Your Faith on Autopilot.
First things first: life at a Christian university is hardly a free ticket to faith for the next four years. Strong faith comes from a relationship with God, not from surroundings—at school or on a mission field in India. Don’t naively assume that choosing a Christian college over a secular one will make you more of a believer.
2. Take Advantage of Opportunities.
Wait, attending a Christian university doesn’t boost my faith? So why go?
If you show up to church and do nothing to engage, have you grown any? Christian higher ed is largely the same. At LeTourneau, where I go to school, every floor of every dorm has at least one chaplain who hosts a weekly devo. Does that make me a better Christian? Not if I don’t show up. But when I do, I my faith can grow through conversation with fellow believers.
3. Don’t Overexert Yourself.
All right, so there’s a bunch of opportunities to grow in faith if you go to a Christian university. Better seize them all, then, right? Wrong. I learned this one through hard, personal experience: doing everything is a great way to run yourself into the ground. Quiet time with God is as important to a faith journey as mission trips. God is more interested in your love for Him than your resumé.
4. Don’t Expect a Carbon Copy of Your Home Faith Environment.
Too many students who grow up in a certain branch of Christianity reach college and are dumbstruck by so many new perspectives. Some Christians might be (gasp!) more liberal than you. Or more conservative. Here’s your opportunity to see your faith from a different perspective. And hey, look at that, you’re learning. And that’s what you came for, right?
5. Find a Mentor.
Just find one? Where? In the Craigslist mentor section?
As it happens, Christian universities have a great solution to your mentor search in the form of faculty. My professors at LeTourneau are as concerned about my faith and wellbeing as they are about my grades. Many of them are more than willing to come alongside for individual students.
6. Break Your Bubble.
Universities put a lot into making their campuses really, really nice. True Christianity rarely is so nice. And the point is to get your hands dirty. Go off-campus and help someone. There’s usually a group of people on campus already doing this. Find them and join in. Don’t let your four years at school be about you alone. Show the love of Christ to the less fortunate in your new community.
7. Expect Dating to be Strange.
In some Christian circles, dating is synonymous with “trying to marry as quickly as possible.” Consider yourself warned.
In the end, every person’s college experience is unique. It may challenge you; you may have the best time of your life. Wherever you end up, God put you there for a reason. Enjoy it, learn from it, and walk across that stage a better person for all of it.
Curtis Wise is a junior studying business administration at LeTourneau University, a private Christian college in Longview, Texas. He enjoys drinking coffee, listening to music, working with digital media and writing in the third person.