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b2ap3_thumbnail_Bibles-for-Christian-University-blog-edited.jpgAs the college search continues for many high school students, the question of whether to attend a secular or Christian institution may come to the forefront of the discussion. This can be a difficult topic, as students try to discern where God is leading them in the midst of such transition and change. While individuals searching for their true calling and direction in life can certainly follow God’s will at secular schools, there are advantages to attending a Christian college or university. Here are the top three…

3. Academic instruction.  In many cases, choosing a Christian institution means choosing a smaller setting. According to collegestats.org, 817 of the country’s religiously affiliated schools have less than 5,000 students. And nearly 400 of those have less than 1,000. So what’s that mean for your academics? It means smaller class sizes, more hands-on learning opportunities and much more individualized attention from faculty. Also, often times, those professors will share the Christian perspective on the subject matters they teach (after laying out all of the other viewpoints, as well), allowing students to explore and discover in an informed manner.

2. Service opportunities.  Matthew 20:28 reads, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”  Thus, it’s no surprise that the types of institutions that bear Christ’s name provide boundless opportunities for their students to serve the world around them. Whether it’s traveling halfway across the globe to work with impoverished youth or giving back locally with the vocational skills learned in the classroom and laboratory, these experiences prove life altering for so many. And the best schools will seek not only to provide these outlets at their respective institutions, but also to equip their students for a lifetime of servitude for the glory of God.

1. Students’ holistic development.  To many (including myself!), the No. 1 reason to consider a Christian college or university is the opportunity to develop holistically as a person. From top to bottom, the faculty and staff at these institutions care about so much more than just what letter goes down in the grade book. They pour their heart, soul and precious time into students to ensure that they’re not only better job prospects, but that they’re also better men and women of God. And at a time when fiscal responsibility is on the top of everyone’s priority list, that type of college experience is a value that’s worth every single penny.

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It's that time of year again, the time when applications begin flooding into colleges and universities nationwide. As you get set to do the same—or maybe more importantly, as you begin your high school career—here's the top 5 things that will make you a better college prospect…

5. Don't wait until junior year. Too many students make the grave mistake of “slacking off” during their freshman and sophomore years. Unfortunately for those students, college admissions offices don't look the other way at those years when that happens. The first two years count, as well, so start well and finish strong.

4. Challenge yourself…smartly. Post-secondary schools want to see that you're taking rigorous college preparatory curriculum throughout your high school career (again, from freshman year on). However, if you're still struggling with the definition of a function, AP Calculus probably isn't your best bet.

3. Get involved…but not just to be involved. It's important to be involved in extracurricular activities, from sports, to theater, to community service organizations. Don't, however, just join to say you're a member. Be committed, and even strive for a leadership position or special honor within the organization, for that, too, will be looked highly upon by colleges.

2. Set yourself apart in the application process. “Well, duh,” you might be saying, “isn't that the whole point of this thing?” And, of course, it is. What I mean by this, though, is use your essay, letter(s) or recommendation, and all the other supplementary materials wisely. Make the individual of your application say, “Wow, this student's different—in a good way—and we need him/her on our campus.” Who knows, maybe that'll even help lessen the blow of that C in 10th grade English.

1. Maintain a solid academic record. There's obviously much more to it than this (see above), but quality grades and test scores are a critical part of the process. At most places, you won't need a 4.3 GPA and 35 ACT, but it's imperative to work and work throughout your high school career to make sure you are where you need to be when it comes time to start filling out those applications.

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

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