By DR. FRED HALL, LPC
QUESTION: I’ve been accepted to a private Christian university and a public university. I’d love to go to the public one, but I’m afraid of losing my faith. What do I do?
How exciting! Not only to have multiple colleges and universities to accept you into their school, but also to know that you have the option to choose a uniquely Christian college or the broader-scope option of public university. Both are equally a blessing to be received.
As for your question, reader, I would caution you not to see this as an “either-or” situation but “what is in the best interest of my future and training goals.” Both places will hone your academic skills and help you become competent in a discipline of your choice. While it is true one school has a more pronounced Christian worldview, don’t view college as only a place to receive. See it as a place to give.
Your main objective is to learn and grow and perhaps have fun in your college years, but as a Christian, remember that you are to demonstrate what a believer believes, says and does, even among people who do not. This is a perfect opportunity to develop your Christian witness and leadership skills in a public place. Public university won’t take from you unless you allow it to. Yes, there may be more access to questionable things, people and activities that don’t align with your faith values, but believe it or not, the same distractions will also be found at a Christian university.
The real deciding factor comes from prayer. What does God have to say about the where and when of your college experience? Spend some time and get counsel from others regarding this major life step. Are you more prone toward straying from your faith and need a more constant Christian involvement? If that is true, then the Christian university might satisfy that. If you can trust God and can self-manage your thoughts and behavior, then a public university might be a way to shine in a sometimes-dark place. A lot of this depends on how you are shaped and what works best for you.
If you don’t like large crowds and need smaller course discussions and more focused attention in a class of no more than eight to 10 people, then a Christian university might be a better fit. If you can hold your own regardless of who is in the room and you don’t have trouble making friends, then a public university may serve you well.
Either place will force you as the adult to take lots of initiative in your education, social life and faith journey. Pray, decide, and go change the world … one person at a time. You can do this because God is with you no matter where you go. Blessings.
Dr. Fred Hall is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), supervisor, life and leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, couples, families and organizations in training, speaking, consulting and clinical practice. He does clinical work at Cornerstone Counseling in Jackson.