I am a college counselor, so I get asked this question many times each year: “How do I make the best choice for college?” If you were to ask this question to a hundred college counselors, you’d get a hundred different answers.
No. I’m kidding. You wouldn’t get a hundred different answers.
In fact, you’d probably get just one. I know a lot of college counselors. Some are Christians, and some are not. But I believe each one would say something like this:
Look for the college that’s the best fit.
What does this mean? What is “best fit?”
Some elements of finding a good fit will vary from one student to another – things like the level of academic intensity, a specific program, or the school’s location. However, the most important key to a good college choice is finding a college community where you feel that you belong.
Here’s why. Your college years will probably shape your future more than any other period of your life. College is where you’re likely to make decisions and solidify beliefs and values that will impact the rest of your life. College is where you’ll likely make some lifelong best friends, and perhaps meet the person who will become your husband or wife.
Your Christian faith is the most important thing in your life, right? If so, doesn’t it make sense to choose a college that will take your faith seriously, with teachers and fellow students who share this faith commitment? If you’re looking at a college where Christianity is not taken seriously – where academic subjects and life issues will not be examined “through the lens of faith” – what makes this college a good fit for you?
As I’ve counseled students over the years, I’ve encouraged them – and their parents – to begin with this foundational principle in finding a good college fit:
If you’re serious about your faith, you should choose a college that’s serious about your faith, unless God is specifically directing you somewhere else.
I have come to this principle from personal experience. My daughters are graduates of a Christian college. I have seen first-hand the kind of young women they have become, and the significant impact their college choice has had. I’ve also seen the experiences of nearly two thousand graduates of the school where I’m the college counselor.
Sometimes God has a specific purpose in calling a Christian student to a non-Christian college or university. But unless you feel such a calling, remember the key word – fit – and start your search with colleges that will take your faith seriously.