If someone had answered this question for me as I was deciding which university to attend….well….my previous self would be….not my previous self. Especially since I was selected as a recipient of the York (university) Science Scholars Award, a $10,000 scholarship including a paid summer research position, after I had already confirmed my acceptance to Tyndale University. Even after I made the decision to reject the scholarship and pursue psychology at Tyndale, I still wondered if I had made the right choice.
Today, I am convinced that this was the right course of action, but would I advise others to consider pursuing a degree at a Christian university? I have compiled a list based on my experience at Tyndale, which will hopefully prevent someone from going through the rather unpleasant period of indecision that I underwent.
You may want to consider this option if…..
1. You like small class sizes.
All of the courses I have taken so far had very small class sizes. The biggest class might have contained about 60 students, and the smallest had closer to 20. As a result there’s a lot more opportunity for class discussion and interaction with instructors, which leads me to my next point….
2. You want the benefits of getting to know your professors.
I would describe myself as one of the quietest people on the planet, so the fact that I have multiple professors who actually know me by name still continues to astound me. If I was attending a bigger university, I doubt that this would still be the case. Another bonus is that most of my profs have been excellent, not just in terms of presenting the material well, but in expressing their desire for students to do well, not just academically, but outside the classroom as well.
3. You appreciate a positive, edifying, and uplifting environment.
This one is a huge point for me, especially as someone studying psychology, a field where the nature vs. nurture debate, of whether genetics or the environment plays a larger role in development, well-being, and various other aspects of life, is often discussed. I believe that the environment we surround ourselves with has a profound effect on our psychological and spiritual well-being, which is why I strongly suggest paying attention to one’s surroundings. Obviously there will never be an institution where every single interaction, conversation, and undertone is uplifting. However, I would say that Tyndale generally emits some pretty positive vibes, if you catch my drift. 😉
4. You are serious about deepening your faith.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that it is impossible to build your faith at a secular university. However, it is a lot easier to do so at a university where the integration of faith and learning is both taught and encouraged.
For example, I have benefited from the pattern of not just studying subjects for the mere sake of learning, but actually considering what significance the material has to me as a Christian. For example, in an introductory philosophy course, after learning about Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction, we considered how it applies to the Trinity. I am currently taking a history course where we are tracking the influences of Enlightenment thinking on the ways different historical groups and figures have viewed traditionally held religious beliefs. As a psychology class, we often discuss what it means to deal with often controversial issues as followers of Christ. Instead of separating faith and learning, the two are integrated in a nearly seamless manner, which I have found to be incredibly helpful as I attempt to approach every aspect of life in a Christlike manner.
5. You enjoy being part of a community that shares your beliefs.
One of my favourite things about my university experience has been the amount of inspiring stories I have heard. Hearing how God has moved in people’s lives has been incredibly encouraging to me, and being the highly distractible person that I am, often reminds me of His presence in my own life.
I have also found the option of attending chapel services during the week to be a great opportunity to refocus and destress, almost like midday food for the soul.
There are many other pros to attending a Christian university that I could discuss, however, I wanted to restrict this to my personal experience, and having never attended a secular institution, this rather limits what I can talk about. With that being said, we now approach the downsides of a private Christian education.
You may feel dissuaded by this option if….
1. Money is an object (see what I did there 🙂 🙂 🙂 ).
At first I completely dismissed the idea of attending a Christian university due to the cost of tuition. I was essentially broke at the end of highschool, having decided not to work in favour of focusing on school, which meant I was completely dependent on OSAP, bursaries, and scholarships. However, these three combined were enough to finance my first year (God is good folks, God is good). With the that being said, money, or the lack thereof, can be a surmountable obstacle in this case…
2. The “core courses” seem intimidating.
When looking at graduation requirements, I was mildly dissuaded by the list of mandatory arts and biblical studies courses that all Tyndale students are required to take. So far, however, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed them, and am starting to see the advantages of having a liberal arts foundation of courses to build on (I would expand on this, but this post is getting too long ).
3. There are limited course/program options.
Alas, going to smaller university can mean that there is a smaller variety of courses and programs offered…..in this case I will let the emojis speak for me… 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦
The Conclusion of the Matter:
I have not even finished my first year of university, therefore I cannot 100% advocate for a full 4 years of Christian university. However, in my brief time at university, the pros have far outweighed the cons, and I would definitely recommend studying at a Tyndale-esque place for at least one year.
Until next time,
P.S. Verity Bellerose is only a pen name, just in case a Tyndale student or faculty member (that doesn’t know me personally) happens to read this one day and denies my having studied there.
P.S.S. My apologies for a rather long and somewhat rambly post, however, as previously mentioned, I am trying to post more often, AND, I wanted to get this out there for anyone looking for guidance on this topic.