The reasons why students decide to attend a Christian college are vast and vary greatly. Some view it as a safe haven: a protected bubble from the late-night drinking parties and secular worldviews that creep into academic lectures. Others look at a Christian education as a place to deepen their faith, learn more about the Lord, and build a community that will strengthen and support each other through both the good and the bad.

Whatever your reason is for considering a Christian college or university, there are some important attitudes and mindsets to take into account as you narrow down your school options, and even as you decide whether or not a Christian education is right for you. Dig a little deeper and consider the purpose and motivation behind your considerations.

3 things to consider about Christianity and education

1. Will this school deepen my faith?

 There really isn’t a right or wrong choice when it comes to deciding between a secular college and a Christian college. The important thing is to take a moment and consider your motive for choosing that school.

Of course, it’s important that whatever college or university you select lines up with your academic hopes, as well as your desire for culture and community. However, a great root question to think through is whether or not the college will play a role in deepening your faith.

If you’re someone who is easily captivated by the world and looking for faith-focused topics to be integrated into academia as well as daily life on campus, a Christian school might be a great fit for you. However, there are plenty of secular schools that host ministries and Bible studies, and the opportunities for evangelism and digging into culture truly abound. Search your heart, ask trusted friends and family, and pray about your options. The Lord will lead you in the direction you’re supposed to go.

2. Am I hiding from reality?

 Examine your motives: are you looking at a Christian education as a form of protection or as a form of preparation? Many students select a Christian college because they want to be in a “sheltered” environment—a place that is safe and protected from the outside world.

However, the Christian life calls us to live with a spirit of engagement. Jesus himself got right into culture, got his hands dirty, and interacted with many who didn’t have an initial interest in Him. Interacting with the world in a relevant way is not just an opportunity—it’s something Christ calls us too. Christian colleges are unique in that they can encourage students to approach the world from a different perspective and provide training on how to interact with it effectively.

If you find that you’re choosing a school because you want to be “protected” from the world instead of “prepared” for it, deliberate over how you can select a school with an atmosphere that stretches and challenges you in healthy ways.

3. How can I engage with the world as Christ calls me to at college?

Real-world involvement and ministry is a direct call in the Bible, and whether you’re considering a Christian or secular school, it’s an important thing to take a look at as you select one or the other.

Think of college as a “pit-stop” that will prep you before you enter the job market, and consider how you can make a difference during that time period. It’s important to choose a school that has opportunities for you to get directly involved with your community, in a nearby church, or through missions. Will you be able to get involved with a homeless shelter in your city? Tutor inner-city kids? Mentor younger college students?

Instead of looking at college as four years of rest and relaxation before reality hits, shift your thinking and take a look at how you can engage with the world in a healthy way before you graduate. It’s a dramatic change of attitude from how most students consider their college career, but you now have this beautiful, wide-open opportunity to make an impact in a unique way.