Says Smith, "I think most Christian parents would agree that the real goal for their student is not for them to simply have a four-year degree and the ability to make a lot of money. Rather, the goal is to become a productive, godly adult who faithfully uses his or her God-given gifts for the good of others."
Smith continues, "It is my conviction that Christ-centered colleges are significantly more effective in producing these outcomes. I see no advantage to splitting your education between two schools. Even the supposed financial advantages are not as great as most people assume they will be."
Multnomah's Strickland suggests that those who have experienced a Christian college environment for four years are more likely to want that for their children. Says Strickland, "Many of our prospective students have parents who are alumni. They will do whatever they can for their students to have the full Multnomah experience."
Friends for Life
Among the chief benefits of attending a Christian school are the relationships that form. Asbury's Harper points out that Asbury carefully coordinates various activities that are particular to each of the four years. In addition to freshmen orientation, first-year students embark on outdoor adventures and have a freshmen talent show. Sophomores have a retreat and a musical. Various retreats, mission trips, and other cross-cultural experiences are part of the junior- and senior-year experience at Asbury. Says Harper, "If a student is not here all four years, many opportunities are missed. Each of these opportunities strengthens relationships."
"We see some students transfer out to complete a degree at a less expensive non-Christian school and ultimately return for several reasons, primarily because they didn't like the environment," says LeTourneau's Fitzhugh. "Most decide it is worth the extra money to be in a Christian environment."
In the end, each family must weigh the pros of cons of attending a Christian school, whether it is for two years, three years, or all four. There is no one right answer for everyone. However, Fitzhugh encourages families going through this decision-making process to heed the advice of the credit card advertisement: "The value of a Christian education," she says, "really is priceless when your student's faith is in the balance."
Randall L. Frame, a freelance writer and editor, also serves as Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Palmer Seminary.