Education Extra

Dr. Roger Parrott is in his 20th year as President of Belhaven University. He is a third-generation College president, and was one of America’s youngest college presidents first elected at age 34. He earned his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Maryland in Higher Education Administration.

The intense competition for recruiting university students has masked the reality of ever-worsening diluted and polluted values in higher education. The unfortunate result of not knowing the real story is that far too many smart Christians have been duped into making dumb college decisions. Students and families are fooled by name-brand marketing campaigns, as well as the glamor of campus amenities and prestige rankings. Or, too often, Christian families buy the naïve assumption that any school will do, as long as you attend a good Bible study or church near-by.

I’m deeply concerned that smart Christian families are being swayed to follow culture’s value of higher education – Size, Sports, Status, and Sizzle – rather than the Godly criteria that would help students find the school that best matches their needs. In contrast, at Belhaven University, our focus is Character, Curriculum, Caring, and Christ.

The typical criteria of college selection are highly inadequate for Christian families to make a well-informed university decision:

  1. Most families reference US News rankings, but don’t realize those scores are skewed in favor of the type of institutions the editors attended.
  2. All students study the quality of academic programs, but forget to examine as carefully the character of the individual who does the teaching, as well as the curriculum that guides the learning.
  3. Some parents urge students to consider enrolling where they attended a quarter-century ago, but don’t realize that while the university campus may look the same on the outside, the worldview in the classroom has dramatically shifted.
  4. Research tells us too many students make their decision within seven-minutes after they get out of the car for a campus tour, thus, deciding on the appearance of the campus.
  5. Often families base this direction-shaping decision on money. And while that is an important factor, this critical juncture of life is too important to be guided only by the prospect of saving money in the short-term.

While the attractiveness of size, sports, status, and sizzle may appear enticing, Christian families need to weigh the alarming realities of both campus-life and classroom-life at flagship universities before making their decision about which school to attend. Character, curriculum, caring, and Christ won’t be featured on ESPN’s College Game Day, but they will be the priorities giving lasting significance to a university education that effectively prepares students for a life of service and meaning. I have awarded over 10,000 diplomas during my years as a university president and have worked with thousands of families making this critical decision. Learning from their experience, I’ve written a paper outlining better criterion for selecting a school, and I’d like to email a copy of it to you if you’re interested in knowing more:

Roger Parrott

President, Belhaven University,

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