Spring is the time of year when many high school seniors are either rushing to complete college applications or waiting to hear from their college or colleges of choice, living in hope that the financial aid award will be sufficient, and moving into the final phase of the serious deliberation that leads to choosing a college.

Every part of the college search process is important, and all the information gathered is useful to gain the fullest understanding about which college fits best with a prospective students interests and plans. Understandably, those students and their parents want to know about the rigor of academic programs, the quality and engagement of faculty, all curricular and extra-curricular options, and the campus community atmosphere. In addition, one area admissions counselors are increasingly asked about is “outcomes.” How does a Christian college prepare a student for life after college? What are the benefits of attending and graduating from a Christian College versus the financial cost?

A recent Christianity Today article by Steve Henderson, President of Christian Consulting for Colleges and Ministries, Inc., addresses an outcome that should be of particular interest to Christian students and parents. In the article, titled “A Question of Price versus Cost,” Henderson makes the following points: Because “the college years are one of the most significant times in a students search for identity…the literature and the research…suggest a strong link between a young persons choice of a college and their short-term and long-term commitment to Christian faith…The results of nearly 25 years of research consistently reveal that those who do not attend a Christ-centered college will experience a decline in religious values, attitudes, and behaviors during college…More than 52 percent of incoming freshmen who identify themselves as born-again upon entering a public university will either no longer identify themselves as born-again four years later or, even if they do still claim that identification, will not have attended any religious service in over a year.” And one final quote from that article, “The bottom line is this: if the past is a fair indication of the future, at least half and possibly over two-thirds of our kids will step away from their faith while attending non-Christian colleges and universities.”

Based not only on research but also on Hendersons personal experience with a daughter who attended a non-Christian college and lost her way spiritually for about a decade, Henderson asks parents to consider whether they can afford not to send their child to a Christ-centered college. A college education is a big-ticket item, no matter what type of school is chosen. Henderson encourages families to look closely at and give due weight to the potentially life-long effect of whichever college community is chosen – Christian or secular. College years are a time of serious examination of personal faith. Students at colleges that arent supportive of Christian faith can become confused, at best, or more likely, skeptical of the Christian teaching of their youth.