New In 2022: The “All Things College” Initiative
In the coming months, you will begin to hear more about a new initiative designed to expand and deepen our students’, and parents’, understanding of how to prepare academically, spiritually and practically for college in the 21st century. While the college years may seem far away for our elementary and even middle school students, our hope is that this information will help younger parents get a head start on developing a plan for their children’s future.
The College Decision
When a student first begins to consider the college proposition, the first thing that comes to mind is likely, “What college do I want to attend?” While it seems a simple question, any parent or graduate who has been through the college selection process knows there are many layers to unfold to find their answer. The decisions ahead may include:
- Public, Private or Christian
- College / University Size
- Area of Study
- Academic Requirements
- School Community / Like-Mindedness
- Living Accommodations
- Tuition and Scholarships
- Family Alma Mater
- Local Church Community
According to Associate Head of School, Becky Owens, “Wesleyan’s administration and faculty recognize that no two students are exactly the same. As we prepare to launch our students into the world, we want to understand how to best support our families with information that will help parents guide their students in selecting a college, while directing them toward resources to support and strengthen their faith during these important years.“
With this in mind, Wednesday morning several members of Wesleyan’s administration and staff, along with representatives from High Point Christian Academy and Hayworth Christian Academy, had the unique opportunity to meet with Dr. Steve Henderson, a Senior Fellow of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
Henderson has served 40 years in higher education administration as well as eight years in state government. He has served on the leadership team of a number of institutions including Oral Roberts University, Pittsburg State University, Southeastern University and was Assistant Vice Chancellor for the University of Arkansas.
The purpose of the meeting was to better understand the value of considering Christian colleges and universities in what has become a new landscape in higher education.
Henderson recommends parents and students seek colleges that prepare students for three things: 1) life which is developed through character; 2) service which is demonstrated in ministry to others; and 3) a career which develops necessary skills for the workforce.
Can students find the first two at a public or private non-religious university? Yes. Is it likely more accessible at a Christian college? Yes. Henderson shared a recent statistic that demonstrates this:
“52 – 70% of all born-again students attending non-Christian colleges no longer identify themselves as born-again, and/or have not attended a church service in more than a year, as compared to the 2-4% of those Christian-university students who walk away from the faith during their college years.” (Barna Group)
While the “why” can be complex and unique to each individual, Henderson identified three primary factors:
- lack of balance in thought and belief systems among professors with a significant majority of university professors being agnostic and atheistic
- lack of like-minded friends
- lack of participation in a ministry or local church.
Henderson adds, “The lack of balance in thought among professors is especially concerning. The college years are where faith should be tested and refined, not torched and denied.” According to Henderson’s research, in today’s college classrooms, 65% of the faculty in most public and private/non-religious colleges do not identify themselves as Christians. Therefore, it’s likely that Christian students’ faith will be challenged, and at times demeaned. So how do we help our students respond?
If your graduate chooses a public institution, Henderson encourages parents and the students to do three things to help keep your child’s faith and life on course:
- Connect them to on-campus ministries (e.g. Crusade for Christ / CRU, Fellowship of Christian Athletes)
- Connect them to a local church
- Seek out Christian faculty members
Dr. David Ray, Head of School adds, “We encourage students and parents to reach out to Wesleyan’s administration, faculty and their church pastors for help in making these important Christian connections on college campuses. In addition, consider including visits with these individuals, organizations, or churches during your student’s campus tour.”
Another, very practical consideration for families is the cost of higher education. High School Principal Tim Kohns explained, “Parents have an understandable misnomer about the affordability of Christian colleges. When you look at the ‘price tag’ on Christian colleges versus public universities, we understand the sticker shock is real. What many parents don’t know is that with grants and scholarships of all kinds available, Christian colleges can be equal to or sometimes less than a public university’s tuition.”
Henderson affirmed Kohn’s analysis sharing that with those grants and scholarships*, annual tuition for Christian colleges often lands plus or minus a few thousand dollars of a public or private, non-religious institution’s tuition.
Dr. Ray concluded, “There’s obviously a great deal of information to process as families make these decisions. However, we know that some of our graduates will attend Christian colleges, some will choose private, non-religious schools and others will choose public colleges. The end goal is to find the right fit for each student.
Ray continued, “With this information, we hope that students will choose to apply to and tour at least one or more Christian colleges as they seek to find their college home. We also hope it helps students and families prepare a plan for their student’s spiritual health as well as their academic experience during their college years.
- Please join us for the annual Christian College Fair in Wesleyan’s High School Gym on Tuesday, September 27, from 6-8pm.
- K-12 parents are invited to Wesleyan’s College Funding Night, Monday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Farlow Kennedy Center on Wesleyan’s campus to explore funding strategies for college.
- To explore Dr. Steve Henderson’s research on Graduation Rate Comparisons, Average Loans and Debts and Comparative Satisfaction among different types of higher education institutions, click here.
- To determine what scholarships your child may be eligible for, students and/or parents are encouraged to connect with College Counselor Michelle Ledbetter or Assistant Principal Adrienne Hurley.
- Wesleyan’s leadership is working to develop a group of programs that will be a part of the “All Things College” initiative. Please stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.