NOTE: Steve Henderson, President of Christian
Consulting for Colleges and Ministries,
Inc., was invited to write the following article
based on his research on the faith commitments
of college students at evangelical and
secular colleges. In his work with Christian
Consulting, Henderson, a strong advocate
of Christian college education, has assisted
nearly 150 colleges, giving him the opportunity
to touch the lives of thousands of
students over the years.
Prior to founding Christian Consulting,
Henderson, who has a doctoral degree from
the University of Arkansas in Higher Education
Administration with an emphasis on
marketing, served as vice-president for
recruitment consultation at the NoelLevitz
Center for Enrollment Management (the
largest higher education consulting firm in
the U.S.). He has served as dean of enrollment
management and director of admissions
at Oral Roberts University. He also
served as the assistant vice chancellor of
enrollment management for the University
Henderson, who also holds an MBA
from the University of Portland and a BA
from Oral Roberts University, speaks frequently at national and statewide
conferences on college student related
topics. In this article, Henderson presents
his studies on the relationship between
college affiliation and religious commitment
in conjunction with the Higher Education
Research Institute of the University of
California at Los Angeles.
Life, in many ways, boils down to
choices. The choices we make
go a long way toward determining
how our lives will unfold. Right
now, hundreds of thousands of Christian
young people are in the process of making
one of the most important choices of their
liveswhere to attend college.
This is not the most important choice
they will ever make. That distinction belongs
to the choice of accepting Jesus Christ as
personal savior. Other important choices
include the choice of a spouse and the
choice of a career.
While each of these choices is distinct,
they are not unrelated. Most of us fail to
appreciate the extent to which the choice
of a college relates to these other important
life choices. The literature and the research
(as well as the experiences of many) suggest
a strong link between a young person's
choice of a college and their short-term and
long-term commitment to Christian faith.
"We Can't Afford It"
For those who are dedicated to recruiting
young people for Christian colleges and universities,
one common response causes much
frustration, even irritation. The response is:
"We just can't afford a Christian college."
The truth is attending any college comes
with a significant price tag. In spite of the persistent
efforts of most Christian colleges to
be affordable, I acknowledge that, in general,
attending a Christian college requires higher
out-of-pocket costs than do other institutions,
especially public institutions, as state
subsidies for public education can be difficult
to match. However, my typical response to
this question is to ask another question. "Is
the lower price tag worth the potential cost?"
Unfortunately, I know something about
cost, as some of the pain still lingers from
seeing one of my own children self-destruct.
I can remember how proud I was to see my
dynamic, scholarship winning,
powerfully Christian daughter
move in as a freshman at a wellrespected
public institution. I can
also recall the shock and grief
that came not long after when
I began to learn that drugs and
alcohol had become so much a
part of her lifestyle that they
were putting her and some of
her friends in grave danger.
I witnessed the choices she
was making bring over a decade
of grief to her and to our family.
Thankfully, after many years of
prayer, counsel, and encouragement,
my daughter is being
restored. In fact, she is now an
incredible and successful woman.
She gave me permission to cite
her story with the hope of helping
other families avoid the pain
that we experienced.