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Higher, higher education

By Don Meyer

In a USA Today article in 2005, Naomi Schaefer Riley coined the term “Higher, Higher Education.” She said, “For most high school seniors, going to a college that bans alcohol and premarital sex, and requires chapel once a week, seems like a raw deal. But the skills students absorb at religious colleges might be giving them an edge in the job market.”

My own academic journey included an AG college (Central Bible College), an interdenominational religious graduate school (Wheaton College) and a large secular university (University of Minnesota). The differences between the religious institutions and the secular institution were significant.

Riley also said, “Schools with strong faith identities with strict behavioral codes … are not succeeding despite their religious mission, but because of it.”  She also describes how professors at these institutions have students who “do the work, and … come to class. The students I have observed and interviewed tend to approach their studies with a sense that God is calling them to study hard, to find their vocation.”

Dr. Steve Henderson, President of Christian Consulting, studied the effect that attendance at a secular college or university had on the faith commitment of religious students. He found that after just one year, 52 percent of the religious students no longer practiced the specific religious disciplines he identified. He was not implying that the religious convictions of every student will be compromised at a secular educational institution, but his research certainly documents the lethal risks.

One professor who taught at several Christian and secular universities described the differences this way: “One thing I like about schools like Baylor and Christian institutions generally, is that I don’t have kids coming to class stoned at 11 in the morning.” 

In religious institutions, business students are taught business ethics; pre-med students have a bio-ethics background; and social concerns are imbedded in the theological underpinnings of the core curriculum.

One of the most important investments a person will ever make is to invest in a quality education. And the greatest cost may not be the cost of tuition.  How costly will an education be that lacks a Christian worldview or dilutes or distorts the biblical principles that produce a godly life? Dynamic daily chapel services, Spirit-anointed professors, and fellow students who share an equal Christian commitment to become men and women of God — like those here at VFCC and all our Assemblies of God institutions — will transform anyone’s life for good. How grateful we are for you, our pastors and churches, who partner with us to help us make that happen.

Higher, higher education. Choose wisely.

Think about it.

DON MEYER, Ph.D., is president of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, Pa.

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