Dordt College News

Leading off with the president

August 20, 2011

Dr. Carl E. Zylstra

Determining the difference

Before investing four years of life in a college, serious Christians should ask some serious questions. In previous issues of theVoice, I’ve suggested ways to measure variations in quality and suggested questions that can help Christian students access the value of a Christian college education.

Every Christian college or university has its own character or niche. Over the past 16 years I’ve come to love my colleagues in Christian higher education and respect the Christian institutions they lead. Yet we’re not all the same. It takes time to discern which college is best for you or for the high school graduate whom you love.

Let me suggest four questions.

First, what is the faith commitment of the faculty? Does the college expect each of them to be a Christian? If so, are they obligated to hold to a particular faith expression (Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Holiness, etc.)?

Second, ask for a copy of the college’s mission statement and the documents that outline how it and their Christian faith perspective shape their curriculum. Look to see whether scriptural perspective is something added to the curriculum or whether it pervades it.  

Third, visit with a theater director, an athletic coach, or music conductor and ask how the faith commitments of their institution make a difference in the co-curricular activities they lead. Do they emphasize group devotions? Do they talk about biblical insight into the character of their team performance? Or do they do both, and more?

Fourth, be sure to look at the college’s brochures or website and gather information about the outcomes they want to cultivate in their graduates. Do they include expanded knowledge, increased skills, deepened understanding, and strengthened commitment to serving in Christ’s kingdom?

Certainly not every Christian parent or student is looking for the same answers to each of these questions. But these questions can give a starting point for determining where Christ may be calling young, serious Christians looking for a college that will prepare them for a lifetime of Christian service.


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