When students choose a college, they often have a list of priorities that guide their college decision, including academic degrees and the overall cost. But other factors, like friendships, community and student life, will ultimately have a big impact on students. The Christian college community cultivates healthy, Christ-centered relationships that shape students both in and out of the classroom. Here are three ways the Christian college community is different:

  1. Values

Many Christian colleges have a set of values they ask students to live out in their daily walk. This isn’t to limit student life, but to provide a framework for success and to communicate clear expectations for the community.

Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota lays out their values clearly and emphasizes the importance of strong relationships: “The covenant ties us into a community where we can create and strengthen authentic, Christ-filled relationships. Not meant to be a burden, the covenant is something to celebrate. For this short time in our lives, we get to be part of a community that recognizes, appreciates, and cares for each other.”

  1. Fellowship

Living on campus fosters a sense of community and encourages strong friendships. At a Christian college, worship, spiritual nurturing, and Christian service also play a part in student life and help develop authentic community. Christian colleges don’t just develop students’ minds, but also their character and values.

At Colorado Christian University, students are encouraged to get involved in the community by leading and serving with their God-given gifts. “Through actively participating in these different areas, you not only experience personal and spiritual growth, you also gain servant-leadership skills that impact the way you live now and the way you interact with the world after graduation.”

  1. Impact

Most people think of the value of community by asking, “What will I get from it?” But there is a flip side to this question: “What will I give?” Christian colleges offer students the chance to make a big impact on others locally and globally. Students serve through urban ministries and local nonprofits or go abroad and experience a short-term missions trip.

At Gordon College, students are encouraged to serve others because they believe “all ministry, service, and outreach must be within the context of mutually beneficial relationships where the line between giver and receiver is blurred and both are seen as co-learners and co-creators.”

With this idea of service as relationship-building, students grow closer not only to the people they serve, but the students they serve with.

Finding a college that fits your expectations of student life is part of the college search process. A Christian college offers a wonderful environment to grow relationally, spiritually and academically.

Sara Ward has a master’s degree in educational psychology and currently writes articles for businesses, educational groups and nonprofits across the web. She also writes a personal blog on faith, adoption and loss at poetsandsaints.com