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Christian Life

“Should I Attend a Christian High School or College?”

Every week, I go through the “Girl Talk” section of Project Inspired and look for those seeking advice and counsel. I want to help answer some questions you may have about living out your Christian life and walk of faith! We want PI to be a safe place where you can ask questions.

A PI girl recently asked about switching schools from a public high school to a private/Christian school:

“I am just starting public school for the first time and it also happens to be high school. I only have about 3 Christian friends but only one is really close to me. The rest of my friends are either atheist or just don’t care much for church. I always feel so motivated when I go to church but then school reminds me of what the world is really like. Should I just attend a Christian school for the rest of high school?” (To read the full post and to join our Girl Talk Forums, click here.)

I am very impressed that this PI reader is evaluating and considering her environment, and is concerned for her future and who is around her. I have attended both public schools and a private Christian university. I can tell you from personal experience that both are interesting to explore.

I am not opposed to being in a secular school, as we need to have people shining their light for Christ. I do, on the other hand, recognize the need to be in fellowship and to be built up in the faith. My whole life changed for the better when I went to a Christian university, so it will be a personal decision for you–neither right nor wrong. Ask God to direct your path and He will light the way.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”Psalm 119:105.

When I attended Vanguard University of Southern California, I had such a unique and special experience that was unlike that of any other school I had ever attended. Prior to going to a faith-based and Christ-centered university, I enjoyed sharing Jesus with friends, participating at my high school’s “New Life Christian Club,” which I became president of my senior year.

I loved being a leader, salt and light to other students and peers and loved seeing people come to know the Lord through youth group as well. I never attended a Christian school before college, but since middle school was always plugged in youth groups and Bible studies outside of school through my local church.

We are CALLED to GO INTO the world, not run from the world, but also there is a significant distinction about what you are taught and how you are treated (concerning prayer and spiritually) when you enroll in a Christian founded school.

If you don’t attend a Christian high school, I would absolutely pray and consider going to a Christian university because it is life-changing. When I first visited the campus at Vanguard, it was so peaceful, welcoming and such a warm and loving environment. I felt at home right away and I loved knowing I could lean on brothers and sisters in Christ at any time. The precious Needham Chapel was a campus place of worship you could count on if you had a long day in school–you could find when a service was going on or could simply go in to pray. Just seeing the chapel made my heart full of joy.

Obviously, we know that God is with us (Matthew 1:23) all the time, but there is a difference in a Christian campus, as you feel the Holy Spirit throughout your day. Even the teachers pray for you before class and before exams…it’s so comforting knowing they are REALLY genuinely FOR YOU. They want you to succeed, and they are also cheering you on and interceding for you!

“Never will I leave you;
 never will I forsake you.”-Deuteronomy 31:6

The other neat aspect of a Christian school or university, at least in my personal experience, is that they are typically smaller, so you get more one-on-one time. I am sure every school is different, but my experience was life-changing because everyone, for the most part, was of one accord. I loved seeing scriptures painted in some of the buildings and also seeing all the neat Christian books in the library. We were all seeking the same thing, God first, and then also pursuing an education with a spirit of excellence.

I loved being involved in campus activities, such as leading worship and also joining the Honors Society for communication students and being on board with them as well. The Lord opens doors for us when we honor him, and even through school I had amazing opportunities, connections and the ability to intern for a future partnership in which I am still in contact with through journalism. My overall opinion is to go for it and to go with what you feel God is leading you to.

Some students may feel called to public or secular schools to be an example. Other students may need to be uplifted and poured into (which was my case). In my case, I needed and wanted Christian girlfriends, as I did not have many Christian friends–most believe in God but were not necessarily walking in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Through Vanguard, beautiful friendships blossomed, and they ended up being lifetime friends and jewels, as I call them. They were long-awaited answers to much prayer. It’s so neat to know those people who are on the same page as you, cheer you on in Christ, uphold you, and intercede for you. I love those special people who, as you know, are very rare. I can say I have one or two of those people because and from Vanguard and I am so grateful for that–even if it seems like not a lot in quantity, the quality of the friendship is priceless.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:16 

Not all private schools or Christian schools are the same and in some cases there can still be some poor behavior, rebellion and partying, but that was not my experience at Vanguard. Everyone was truly genuine and I felt like there was a different breed of people. A people I had been longing to be around who not only I could bless and pour into, but in return blessed me tenfold. I really hope and pray you can either find these friendships in your church or in your lifetime. They are so rich in spirit and these experiences we go through strengthen our relationship not only with Jesus, but also add to our lives abundantly.

What are your thoughts about attending a Christian school or university? Are you transferring soon or thinking of colleges in your near future? Share your thoughts below!

Image: iStockphoto | ThinkStock

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12 Comments

  1. May All Your Bacon Burn

    Posted by May All Your Bacon Burn on August 14, 2014 at 19:08

    (If you do intend on reading this, please read through the end, so you don’t get the wrong idea).

    I graduated from a public high school last summer, and I am now in attendance at a private, non-religious college. My other choice was a private religious college, though, and I spent a lot of time praying endlessly about it. This is what ended up occurring to me: I’ve been in youth groups and things all of my life. My mum and her family has made it to where I was well aware of God’s world, and I was such an outsider in grade school that I really didn’t pay much notice to what the non-religious people did around me. I now had a choice: I could either a) go into a school with my religious practices right there, where most people already followed them and I could fit in mighty fine, or b) I could go to a non-religious college, where finding these things would be a lot harder, but it would also push me to speak out more and practice my religion stronger.

    That’s how I ended up choosing my school. And it has been hard, especially since this is a particularly liberal school. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to sit quietly and listen how Christianity was “the reason” for so many of the events that occurred in history (mind you, it wasn’t the religion itself that did it. It was those who misinterpreted it, or claimed it as their reason for doing the things they’ve done). I also can’t count how many times I’ve walked away from a table, for reasons anywhere between people being hateful, claiming terrible things about people of my religion and then, hypocritically, threatening to do the same or worse things to them, and worse, misinterpreting the Bible and claiming that that’s the reason “Christians should all go to Hell” (redundant, I know). Then I see all these posters and activities advertising the college as safe for all religions and races, and I realize it’s true…except for Christians.

    At the same time, though, as painful as all of this was for me, it taught me a few things. It showed me how the world was, for one. It gave me a taste of how people truly felt, and how easily things can become mangled and rearranged so that way it’ll seem like they’re right (as well as giving me an opportunity to figure out what they were rearranging and taking out of context to get that idea. It’s actually a hobby of mine). It’s taught me how to choose my own battles, and to just walk away if they aren’t worth fighting. It’s made me realize that if they can’t figure out I’m a religious person just by the way I act, then I ought to fix myself before I even try to fight those battles I mentioned earlier (after all, you can’t take a splinter out of someones eye when there’s a plank sticking out of your own). And finally it’s pushed me to seek out those who are Christians, so I’m not always subdued by this hate and so there are people I can actually talk to in an environment that isn’t nearly as threatening. Once I get my own book straight, I intend to start replying to some of these people before walking away. I intend to learn how to calmly and concisely explain why things are what they are, and to only walk away when it’s obvious that they don’t intend to listen. It’s making me do the exact things that I realized it would when I first decided I was going there. And I do believe God wants me there. After all, he’s the one who willed me to change majors after the first day of orientation, and the officials from the Christian school laughed at me when I mentioned that field. So I sincerely believe I’m in the right place to learn.

    Overall, it just depends on what your experience is, and what you want to find in yourself. If you haven’t had an opportunity to become strong in your faith yet, I recommend going to a Christian college. If you’ve had that opportunity and want to take it farther into applying it to the real world, take the non-religious college route. It’s difficult, but hey, the Lord didn’t say it’d be easy.

  2. HorsecrazyMGirl

    Posted by HorsecrazyMGirl on March 17, 2014 at 16:16

    I am homeschooled, and don;t have a lot of practicing Christian friends. I would love to go to a Christian university, however I want to go in to Veterinary Science, and a lot of normal colleges don’t have it, let alone Christian ones. 🙁

    • aggiegirl45

      Posted by aggiegirl45 on March 22, 2014 at 15:47

      I’m in a Vet Science Program your gonna love being a Vet or a Vet Tech. It’s super fun! and somewhat icky but it’s sooo cool.

  3. brennaeskyler2

    Posted by brennaeskyler2 on March 14, 2014 at 18:19

    I go to a private Christian school. I have been since preschool, and I love it! All of my teachers encourage in my walk each and every day! Now, as a highschool student, I get to lead in a Bible study! I love going to Christian highschool and I recommend it to anyone!

  4. moklyann000

    Posted by moklyann000 on March 13, 2014 at 20:24

    I am currently a sophomore in high school. I attended public schools my whole life but to be honest I don’t really like it. Sure it has its ups and downs but I do really want to go to a college university. I agree that it should be a matter we pray about and ask for guidance in. I personally really want to go to a christian university. The idea of prayer and chapels is just mesmerizing to me.

  5. SitInHisShade

    Posted by SitInHisShade on March 8, 2014 at 08:58

    I think it’s important for Christians to go to public school. After all, if you aren’t exposed to the world during high school, how are you going to know what to do when you’re put into the world as an adult? We can’t just cloister ourselves away and not impact the world- even nuns have outreach ministries in the world. As someone who’s gone to public school their whole life, I admit, it’s very hard, and sometimes it has a negative influence on me. Christian schools are wonderful, of course, and sometimes I wish I went to one. But people are going to be sinful even at a Christian high school. But I think it’s important to experience both, which is why I want to go to a Christian college.

  6. Project Inspired

    Posted by goodrickj15 on March 6, 2014 at 17:54

    I have gone to public school my entire life. That was really all that was available for me, and I am okay with that. However, for college, I pray that I can go to a Christian college. There are two of them I really like, and one state school if the cost is too much. I pray that I can finally be immersed with people who understand and believe the things I do. I want to be an example, but I need a good foundation first. 🙂

  7. Posted by Nicole on March 4, 2014 at 22:57

    This is such a great article Christi!

  8. Trinity

    Posted by Trinity on March 3, 2014 at 20:05

    I think you should go where you’re called. However, it’s my personal belief that everyone should go to at least one year of public high school just to get a little immersed in the world and what it’s like. I’m not saying that you should allow it to compromise who you are, but I know a lot of people who go to Christian schools all throughout high school and end up surprised by how the secular world is and how to handle it. And if you can survive public high school, you can survive most things you’ll have to deal with.

  9. Project Inspired

    Posted by Leah on March 3, 2014 at 16:42

    This is great! I totally agree, Christie! I grew up attending quite a few Christian and public schools. And while I began college at a public college, I plan on switching to a Christian college soon!

    In fact, I just wrote a blog about this subject:

    http://myhappinessisinher.blogspot.com/2014/02/practical-faith.html