By Dr. Carmen Joy Imes
The college decision is a complicated one, with so many factors to consider –school, major, location, timing, life goals, etc. Gone are the days when your career was decided for you based on where you were born or what your parents did for a living. The pressure to figure out the right college path can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some factors to keep in mind as you navigate your options:
1. No decision is final. Choosing a school or a major is not a one-time decision. One university recently reported that 80% of their students changed majors at least once during their time at school. Engaging the learning process is more important than knowing exactly where you are headed. You can always change lanes if you discover a new area of interest or if you discover you aren’t cut out for the program where you began.
2. Environment matters. Find a place to study where you can imagine yourself feeling at home in the community. Your growth as a person and your academic success will depend in large part on your overall sense of well-being. Visit the school, stay overnight in the dorm, eat in the cafeteria, hang out with students, and ask, “Can I see myself here?”
3. Don’t be fooled by the bottom line. Look for quality. Parents and students often look most closely at the cost of a program, comparing it to similar programs at other schools. You might not be comparing apples to apples. Some schools have hidden costs that they don’t tell you up front. Often a lower advertised cost corresponds to a lower quality of education. For example, unaccredited schools have not gone through the hard work of submitting to outside accountability. As a result, their programs can be more haphazard and they usually do not attract faculty with strong credentials. The world is changing quickly. Look for a school whose faculty are up-to-date on current research. You’ll get a better bang for your buck, and your credits will be more transferable if you decide to make a lane change down the road.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s talk about Bible College.
There was a day when just about every Christian teen headed to Bible College after high school. Today the decision feels more complicated by rising costs and the pressure to land in a career early to pay off loans. So, is Bible College for you?
The answer may be “yes” if any of these are true of you:
If you intend to pursue a university degree in another field.
Maybe you feel drawn to medicine or law or engineering, and you plan to pursue those fields at a Provincial or State University. Spending a gap year at a Bible College first achieves three objectives:
(1) It helps you build a solid foundation for your faith before engaging in a secular university environment.
(2) It hones your comprehension, research, study, and writing skills so that you can bring your best game to university.
(3) It gives you a year in a supportive, Christian community where you can make lifelong friends who share your values.
If you want to pursue vocational skills in a biblically-rich environment.
A camera is a camera is a camera. But studying digital media at a Bible college makes you a different kind of photographer – one who has learned to think Christianly about art, business, and ethics. A nurse is a nurse is a nurse. But studying nursing at a Bible college makes you a different kind of nurse – one who has developed a sense of Christian vocation that reshapes the way you engage with patients and coworkers. (If you’re interested in what it’s like to be training as a nurse at Prairie, read Chanice’s testimonial here.)
If you sense God calling you to full-time ministry.
This one is rather obvious. If God has been nudging you to pursue pastoral or evangelistic ministry, either at home or around the world, then a Bible College is the place for you. Diving deeply into Scripture under the mentorship of godly professors prepares you for a lifetime of ministry.
If you plan to work in the family business or be a stay-at-home parent.
Even those whose future plans do not require a college degree can benefit enormously from a year or two in Bible College. Lifelong friendships, a deeper engagement with Scripture, growth in faith, growth in communication skills, and a more well-rounded view of the world will make you a better employee, a better boss, and a better parent.
If you aren’t sure what you want to do next.
It may feel like you should wait until you know where you’re going before you begin. However, it’s easier to steer a moving car than one that is parked. Chances are that you’ve had limited experiences to help you discover how God has wired you and even what your options are. Bible College is a wonderful environment for self-discovery as well as to find out the greatest needs in the world.
Prairie College offers programs for students in all these categories. We’ve designed 1-and-2-year programs in Bible for students who don’t need a 4-year ministry degree.
We have cutting-edge vocational programs in aviation, licensed practical nursing, songwriting, primary care paramedic, digital media, and outdoor leadership. We also offer traditional, 4-year degrees in Intercultural Studies, Christian Formation and Counselling, Theology, Youth Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, and Humanities.
Students in our 4-year degrees (as well as our 2-year Diploma in Bible) cover the entire Bible in 7 core courses. Can’t move to Three Hills, Alberta? Many of our programs are available online. Best of all, Prairie College is fully accredited and classes are taught by professors with impressive credentials in their field.
Want to learn more? Click here to contact our friendly admissions staff, who can help you find answers to your questions.
As you consider your options, be sure to pray.
God is not standing by, waiting for you to figure out the best path on your own. His desire is to walk closely with you in your decision-making process.
Whichever path you take, you can travel together.