My Honest Thoughts on a Christian College
If you’re considering Covenant College, you’re probably asking some of the questions I did at 17. One big question I wrestled with was: Should I go to a Christian school? Having grown up in the Church, specifically in a Presbyterian church, I wondered if I should expand my circles and experience by going to a secular school rather than to the college of the PCA.
Why not go to a state school and get involved in RUF, CRU, Campus Outreach, or another campus ministry?
Groups like this provide life-giving Christian community and biblical teaching, but they’re not the same as being surrounded by believers who are unified in Christ day in and day out. I strongly recommend campus ministries to students at non-Christian schools, but if you come to Covenant, we offer something more.
A recent graduate and soccer player, Hannah Rodehaver ’22, says that she chose Covenant because she wanted a team that pointed each other to Christ. “Covenant athletes can compete knowing that their athletic ability is not the highest priority and that their teammates and coaches care more about loving one another and walking with the Lord.”
I found this to be true in the classroom as well. My Covenant professors cared about my work, but they cared more about my spiritual growth. Covenant values excellence as a way to honor God and use the gifts He’s given us, but we know that our worth is in Christ alone, not in our grades, points scored, post-college salaries, or student leadership positions. In the midst of college stress, this perspective was amazingly freeing. It lifted the burden of perfectionism so that I could actually work well and enjoy all that I learned.
How can you be “salt and light” when you’re stuck in a Christian bubble?
If you’ve grown up in a Christian home, school, or church like me, you’ve probably heard of the infamous “Christian bubble,” but going to a Christian college doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in a bubble.
At Covenant, almost everyone actively follows Christ, but there are some who don’t know Jesus. Also, because college pressures and being away from home can lead to difficult questions, some students go through seasons of searching or spiritual darkness. In a Christian community, there are still many opportunities to talk about the Gospel with those around you and exemplify God's love to His hurting world.
While I never went through a true crisis of faith in college, there were several times when I needed Christians who would sit with me in hard questions and wrestle with pain, while also reminding me of the gospel. I found this not only in my friends, but also in my professors and work study supervisors. Even as a student, you can minister to your fellow students.
Additionally, most Christian schools offer service opportunities and ways to get involved in the local community. Covenant participates in service opportunities throughout the year, and some classes offer ways to get involved in Chattanooga. One of the best ways you can serve is by getting connected to a local church, something Covenant strongly encourages. (My freshman year, I got involved with a newly planted church, and it was just as much a part of my college experience as life on campus.) Also, treating opposing teams (from the basketball court to the debate podium) with Christ-like love is a form of ministry.
I went to a Christian high school, so I don’t need another Christian school.
With a biblically grounded high school education and a grasp of Reformed theology from my home church, I thought a Christian college might be unnecessary. However, I found that Covenant grew and strengthened my faith in new and significant ways.
College is a special time in life set aside for training and learning, and what could be more important than building a spiritual foundation and worldview that will guide you for the rest of your life? For most students, college is the first extended time spent away from home, and you must discover what you truly believe - not what your parents or those around you believe - and live accordingly. Covenant is a setting conducive to these important questions as friends, faculty, coaches, and supervisors all walk beside you.
I encourage you to ask hard questions at Covenant; wrestle with God; build relationships with other believers. All of this will prepare you for life after college in ways that will surprise you.
One Last Note
I hope I’ve shown you that Christian colleges offer something special, but there’s one more thing I should mention: I didn’t want to go to a college that was Christian in name only. If I chose a Christian school, I wanted it to be dedicated to the integration of faith and learning. That’s exactly what I found at Covenant, a campus that lives from our motto: In all things Christ preeminent!