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How to look for a school that will shape the heart and the mind.  

When choosing a college, some questions are obvious. What will I study? How much will it cost? What is the campus like?

But these important questions are rivaled by other big picture questions that often get pushed to the background. How will this school impact me spiritually? How will this shape my character? Will this college mold me into the person I want to become?

Christian colleges excel at shaping not only minds, but also the heart and character of a student.

Spiritual Growth

1. Christian Worldview

How will this school shape my worldview?  How do I see a Christian perspective expressed in the classroom? Christian colleges excel at bringing a faith perspective to academic subjects. By helping students grapple with issues through the lens of a Christian worldview, students gain the ability to think critically while strengthening their faith in the process.

2. Worship

What opportunities are there to grow in personal and corporate worship?  How will this this help me establish a foundation for worship? A Christian college can help a student grow in their passion for God through worship. When visiting a school, sit through a chapel program or worship service. This will determine whether the style and service are a good fit personally.

3. Mentoring and Accountability

Many colleges offer programs that establish an accountability process or identify areas of weakness and growth. These programs may be one-on-one or small groups, fostering spiritual growth through community and mentoring.

4. Ministry and Volunteer Opportunities

Opportunities to help others, whether in ministry or community settings, give students the chance to develop compassion and learn valuable lessons on developing servant hearts. Ask what opportunities are available and identify ones that use your gifts and abilities.

Personal Growth

1. Expectations for Living

What are the expectations for campus life?  A code of conduct encourages students to live out their faith practically. Finding a college where expectations align with your personal beliefs will be a natural fit, guiding you towards personal growth.

2. Making a difference

When narrowing down schools, look for a college that will inspire you to use your gifts and abilities to make a difference in the world. This might be through volunteer programs, campus groups, mission trips or special activities in your department. You might find yourself working at a food bank, volunteering at a campus event or participating in a group that works with children. These opportunities give students the chance to make an impact on others.

3. Stretching your comfort zone

One of the best things you can do is look for opportunities on campus to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Things that stretch you personally are character-building opportunities that foster the ability to tackle even bigger challenges down the road. These building blocks for personal and spiritual growth will allow you to achieve the most during your time in college.

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

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