2019 1st Place Christian Studies Scholarship Winner
July 5th, 2019
By: Alissa Danielle Langbehn
It often seems like future students and potential employers discredit those who went to a Christian based university or college. They often look at the large, public universities that are well known and assume that those students receive a better education. While many of these large schools do offer an amazing educational experience, there is a little bit of something that is missing. This little bit of something can vary greatly from student to student, but there is always something missing. This little bit of something can be personal relationships, relationships with teachers, community involvement, or an element of faith. What gives Christian based schools an edge, is that they often times can fulfill that little bit of something in students.
Christian schools are able to fulfill student needs better than big schools because they are typically smaller and more student centered. Their student to teacher ratio is often between 15-20:1 unlike public schools where more than one hundred students are in a classroom at a time. Students in these small schools have the chance to get to know their professors better because they often have them for more than one class during their time in school. The best thing that many of these small Christian schools do, is have a liberal arts core. This means that students get to test the waters of many different fields by being required to take classes outside of their field. This gives them a more rounded education and allows them the chance to have an interest in other things.
The absolute pinnacle of receiving a Christian based education is that students get the chance to explore their faith. Many of these schools provide weekly chapel, an on-campus minister, and classes that explore varying parts of Christianity. Having these options available for students means that fewer students will let go of their faith, as so many do when they get away from their parents. The classes that explore varying aspects of the faith are important for a couple reasons. First, it can help students fully understand what their faith means to them and what they believe for themselves, seeing how many only believe what their parents believe. Second, it can help students with no faith at all discover Christ and see the full picture of what Christianity is and where it came from.
Having so many Christian schools across the country is incredibly beneficial to the country as a whole. These schools are teaching future business leaders, politicians, and teachers how to shine the light of Christ in a country where that lights seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer. Business at these schools are learning how to lead large companies with their faith at the center. They go through business classes with teachers who are strong believers and successful business people. They are taught how to be ethical and practice their faith in hard hitting environments such as the stock markets, board rooms, and fast-paced sales. They are even learning about how God wants them to run their business and control their finances. These are all things that America needs, people who are honest, hard-working, and strong in their faith.
But it is not just those in the business studies that are benefiting from this type of education. These schools are producing worship leaders for churches who are reaching out around the world to bring Christ into the lives of those who have never heard the good news. Future teachers are learning how to bring Christ into the classroom without having to worry about parents being upset about their child be told about God. Nurses are being educated on how to heal the sick with their medical experience as well as their prayer. All of these students are bringing Christ back into the center of the work force, a place where all kinds of people come together for extended periods of time. A place where Christ can do amazing work to bring the country back into his arms and under his leadership.
Christian based education is simply incredible, it is wholistic, fulfilling, and students learn just as much if not more than their public-school counterparts. When I began looking into colleges, I knew that I wanted a small, intimate school where I would have a sense of community and belonging. That is how I decided to attend the University of Sioux Falls for both my undergraduate and graduate work. USF is based on the Baptist doctrine but is open to all students of all backgrounds. This creates an amazing melting pot of cultures on campus and allows for open communication and opinions. I, initially, did not thing too much about the faith aspect of the school. I was a practicing Christian who actively attended church, but I soon discovered the amazing benefits of going to USF.
The first benefit is that the teachers showed absolutely amazing amounts of grace. Many were open to second chances on homework, exams, and other classroom related activities. But it went beyond the school work. My freshman year of college, I was going to miss a weeks’ worth of J-term due to the death of my grandfather who was in Arizona at the time. J-Term is the period between Christmas break and the start of the spring semester where students can take a full-semester course in a three-week time span. Missing a week of classes equaled nearly two months of actual class time and often resulted in failure. Due to the nature of my dilemma, the school and professor was willing to let me miss that class time as long as I kept up my readings and my homework, which I did because I needed the class. This was a big way the school and teachers showed me grace.
The next benefit is that all of the professors have a faith story. They are not afraid to share it, show it, and talk about it. Many open their classes with prayer and ask the students if they have any prayer requests and we would all pray together. But their faith went beyond the classroom. My favorite accounting professor was also the one who I could go to if I was having a faith problem. When I was unable to get a job lined up before graduation, I went into his office asking why God was not answered my prayers. I had been to over a dozen interviews and had heard nothing back. He prayed with me, shared a time in his life when he was in a similar predicament, and told me that God had something amazing in store for me. I took his advice and prayer to heart, about two months later I had three job offers arrive in my e-mail in the same week.
Lastly, my education at the University of Sioux Falls taught me how to be a respectable leader who is not afraid to show and act on their faith. They offered multiple classes on Christian leadership and how to be a Christian leader in both big ways and in small ways. While I do currently work for an office with a Christian background, there are times that it seems like that area of the business is forgotten. I make it a point to differentiate myself from others by not cussing in the office, being respectful to everyone, and simply trying to be the Christian God wants me to be. It is my hope that in the future I will be able to demonstrate my faith at a high level of management. To be the leader of company that is successful because the people inside are different by faith. But until then, I shall continue to live my life in the way that Christ wants me to live while moving down the path he has set out for me.
About the Author
Alissa Danielle Langbehn is a student at the University of Sioux Falls located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a Christian Liberal Arts University that is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.