With dreams to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher or maybe a counselor, you might wonder if a Christian college can prepare you for those fields or even give you a taste of what the "real world" will be like. You've heard so many good things about the Christian college experience, but will it simply isolate you from the outside world?
We took this question to three professors who teach at Christian schools, and asked them to offer answers based on their various areas of expertise.
Preparing for the Business World
Dr. George Stratis says that trust is very important in the working world. He tells his students he isn't simply preparing them for a career in business. He's preparing them to be "missionaries" to the corporate world. After spending 30 years in the business world, Stratis knows you reach business professionals for Christ by first demonstrating your abilities as a fellow professional. He says it's a matter of gaining trust.
As professor of business and finance at Nyack College (Nyack, New York), Stratis now takes his experiences into the classroom. He says his classes not only cover what's in the textbooks, but also apply those theories to real-life situations. Stratis has been through most of the situations they discuss—such as making a presentation, a practical skill every businessperson needs to know. When his students make presentations, he evaluates their weaknesses and they discuss them at the end of class. "I show them their weaknesses because I know that's exactly what happens in the corporate world," he says. "Your colleagues will continue to probe you until they get a sense you really know what you're talking about. Once you've proved yourself, then you get a free ride for the rest of the talk."
Stratis says part of his job is preparing his students to be qualified and prepared to survive the secular job market. The other part is giving them a foundation of integrity, honesty and balance in their life. "Just like Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the business world has its own temptations. They'll dangle money and promotions in front of you. And it's extremely easy to get trapped into becoming a workaholic if you're going after a title."
Students occasionally ask if it's possible to be a Christian and become a CEO, to which Stratis responds, "Sure!" Stratis says that's when he reminds students that their faith should affect whatever position they find themselves in. He may tell them to imagine themselves in a business meeting where the discussion turns to a new advertising campaign. As the discussion develops, they discover the campaign is definitely stretching the truth. Stratis then asks his students, "So, are you going to sit there like a lump or now use the credibility you've built up, and the fact that you're an ambassador for Christ, to do something?"
Even though Stratis is only starting his fourth year with Nyack, he's seen students graduate and go on to work for some of the top business companies and accounting firms in the United States. One former student, now a broker for Morgan Stanley, has told Stratis and the rest of the business department that honesty works in the brokerage business—just like he had been taught.
Stratis says he wants his students to know their stuff, but also to develop strong Christian values that will prepare them for the difficult ethical and moral decisions they'll face in their jobs. "It's not always about what you learn in school because there are so many things you will learn on the job," he says. "But before you get into a job, you need to know who you are, how strong you are and what you believe. That's why a Christian education is so important."
Preparing for Life