by Larry L. Carter B.S., M.C.M., and President of GLCC
How are today's colleges addressing spiritual development?
To remain relevant in 21st century America, colleges need to understand the desire of students to have meaning and purpose in life.
Christian Colleges Focus on Spiritual Development
We receive a periodic update on events and issues in higher education from an on-line publication called Inside Higher Ed. One of their articles focused on Christian colleges in America. The article included an interview with Samuel Schuman, a non-Christian academic, who wanted to learn more about these institutions and whether or not they still had a place in 21st century America.
He found that, first of all, Christian colleges are quality institutions that do an excellent job in higher education. Secondly, he makes this observation,
“There are lots of things we can learn from the faith-based colleges and universities. Most important, to me, is that these institutions respond to the yearning of college students for a connection between intellectual exercises and spiritual considerations. Alexander Astin and the Higher Education Research Institute are studying spirituality in our colleges and universities. In a survey of 112,000 students from 236 colleges of all sizes and sorts, they found that about three-fourths of those students say they want, in college, to search for meaning and purpose in life. 80% affirm they believe in God, and two-thirds pray. Most tellingly, about half of those students said they want their colleges and universities to encourage their personal development and the expression of their spirituality. But only 30% of all college faculty think the college experience should provide any help in students’ spiritual development. At public colleges, that number is 23%; at public universities, it is 18%. So, if you will forgive a rather pig-headed over generalization, our students overwhelmingly want something; we have it; we haven’t given it to them; I think we should.”
Schuman’s comments reflect a growing awareness among secular colleges of not only the academic quality of Christian colleges, but also of the importance of our emphasis on spiritual development. Indeed, he intimates that if a college wants to remain relevant in 21st century America, they need to understand the desire of students to have meaning and purpose in life. They need to understand their wish to delve more deeply into the spiritual dimension of their lives.
The problem is that the faculty of most of these secular colleges doesn’t see the value in that kind of education.
Great Lakes Christian College has been in the business of spiritual development for over 60 years.
While we are an excellent academic institution that provides students with a quality education, we have always understood that our instruction is incomplete without helping our students to discover their meaning and purpose in life. And we believe that the best place for that discovery is through a person’s relationship with the One who created that life – God.
Our faculty, 100% of them, agrees. As a result, our curriculum reflects not only our desire to prepare students for an occupation, but also for a purposeful and meaningful life. While secular colleges spend much of their time teaching “what” and “how”, we focus on the ultimate questions of “who” and “why”. After all, the “who” and “why” will remain long after the “what” and “how” is gone. We don’t want to be relevant just for the 21st century – we want to be relevant for eternity.
If you liked this article, check out How to Prepare for Life after College (The Real World).
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January 2010 edition. It was written by Larry L. Carter B.S., M.C.M., and president of GLCC.