So you are thinking about attending a Christian university.

Whether you are a first-time freshman or a transfer student, you may be asking yourself, “What will be different? How will my experience in a Christian university be different from a public school?”

First of all, let me begin with a word of caution: do not paint all Christian universities with the same brush. 

The manner in which an institution’s Christian values manifest themselves on campus can be very diverse. About the only thing that can be said is that all Christian universities have (or had) some kind of church affiliation, although you will find exceptions to that rule as well. My list of five “differences” should be viewed as likely but not mandatory, and it certainly is not an exhaustive list.

You will hear about the “engagement of faith and learning” or “faith integration” or “faith-informed discernment,” or something along those lines.  

While public universities tend to shy away from matters of personal faith because of the separation of church and state, Christian universities embrace that aspect of human experience. Some of your courses may ask you to explore how faith issues intersect with the material in the class. For example, the current estimate for the age of the earth is 4.2 billion years.  What is the relationship between that number and the creation story in Genesis?

Your curriculum may contain one or more required General Education courses on the Christian Scriptures or Christian Thought. 

Since Christians view the Bible as their scripture, it is not unreasonable that a Christian University would require a course on those texts and what they mean. Fear not! This will likely not be Sunday School! It will be a scholarly inquiry into the origins, authors, and historical understanding of the Bible. 

The university may provide co-curricular activities for your spiritual development, and these may be voluntary or required. 

Some Christian universities require Chapel, a university-led worship service. Other opportunities include fellowship activities, mission trips, or devotional studies sponsored by a denominational group or inter-faith fellowship, like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship or Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

The academic community will be composed of Christians. 

There is a lot of variance on this one, but generally, a Christian university will have more Christian employees than average. Some schools require that every employee must be a Christian. Some give preference to their sponsoring denominational group, like Baptist or Catholic. Other Christian universities make no attempt to enforce this, but Christians are drawn to employment there because of like values. 

Christian symbols will be prominent. 

If you aren’t used to that, you may find it strange. You will likely see crosses, crucifixes or other images from the Christian faith. The musical productions or theatrical performances may have a decidedly Christian inclination to the message.  The campus will probably have a central Chapel. Public universities may have some of these things present as artifacts from days gone by, but the separation of church and state will generally keep them from erecting overly Christian symbols.

If you are thinking about attending a Christian university, the best thing you can do is talk to someone who is already there. Ask that person what the culture is like. If the fit is not going to be right for you, then you should look elsewhere. But if the fit is right, then it will be one of the best experiences of your life!

UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!