John Mark Reynolds wrote an insightful post at the Patheos Philosophical Fragments blog entitled Why You Should Attend a Christian College – And Why You Should Not. Reynolds, a professor at Biola University and a graduate of both Christian and secular institutions, offers five reasons to attend a Christian college, three reasons not to, and a number of questions that a prospective student should ask before choosing a college, regardless of type.
His reasons to attend a Christian college are:
- College is not just job training; it is highly influential in forming a worldview.
- Most Christian colleges focus of undergraduate education.
- Christian colleges talk about all of reality.
- Christian colleges are tuition driven.
- Christian colleges more easily avoid educational fads.
Whereas he reasons not to are:
- Christian college is often more expensive.
- Christian college or any small school can be academically second-rate.
- Christian colleges can recruit “Christian” and then be expensive and secular.
I was particularly impressed with his counsel concerning online learning. He cautions against taking online classes where the student-teacher ratio is different than that of the on-campus courses. Additionally, if the school doesn't seamlessly accept their own online courses within their on-site programs, Reynolds advises students to stay away.
Given the temptation of universities to treat online learning as a cash-cow with extra large classes staffed by often overworked and underpaid adjunct faculty (with little say in the overall curriculum), Reynolds counsel is spot on. As an advocate for online learning, I believe that universities should treat online classes with the same care as campus classes. Additionally, if students take online classes, they should be treated as full members of the university community and be able to use the same resources (faculty, administrative, campus) as residential students.
The full piece, complete with questions to ask, is available at the Patheos website. Additionally, you'll find a variation on this piece (with the great question, "Would the school be 'mere Christian' enough to hire C.S. Lewis or Francis Schaeffer?") at his Civitate blog.