I’m not a Christian. Why should I complete my bachelor’s degree from a Christian college? - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Adult Students Higher Education The College
May 25, 2017

I’m not a Christian. Why should I complete my bachelor’s degree from a Christian college?

It’s not surprising that in the past ten years I have received that question by more than one student. The answer to it is both easy and difficult. The truth is that Geneva College’s ADP program has been providing a decidedly Christian education for over 27 years and most recently it has been offering online degrees in seven majors since 2013. It is also true that for many working adults, the primary motivation for getting a bachelor’s degree is to advance one’s career and for some, wanting a Christian-based education is not the primary concern. So, what does it mean to be an adult student, completing a bachelor’s degree from a Christian college, especially if one isn’t identifying with the Christian faith or active in their faith?

Probably the best way to answer this question is to first describe what a Geneva College ADP major is not and then work backwards. First, a Geneva College ADP major is NOT a “Bible” degree. All our majors are in professional fields like human resources, management, organizational leadership, criminal justice, child and family services, aging services and public relations. These majors are focused on relevant and current trends in the field, and the goal is to prepare students not for the pastorate, but for their chosen line of work. Second, one does not need to be a Bible expert or know much about the Bible to do well in our program. The Bible is utilized along with your textbooks, but in fact, you don’t even have to own a Bible. We give you one for free! And additional readings or articles about the Christian faith are provided in your syllabus for you. Much like some jobs advertise, “no experience is necessary,” you will discuss and learn about the Bible—but we will train you and guide you.

So what does this entail then?

In our Geneva College ADP program we approach our majors with this basic premise: we believe that the problem in today’s companies is not a lack of employees, but rather a lack of good employees. We live in a world in which many people believe there are no rules; there is no right and wrong. As a result, we see the effects of this behavior in the lack of leadership in today’s companies, the decline of moral values in today’s business and culture at large, and the extensive brokenness that exists in people’s lives. At Geneva College, we believe that God speaks to these issues in His Holy Word, and that there is a right way to do business and a wrong way to do business. We believe that there is a right way to treat employees and a wrong way to treat employees. And ultimately, the Bible has the ability to guide us in doing those things the right way. Further, it speaks to diverse fields and subjects, and not just the church. For example, in the field of human resources we learn that employers need to put the needs of their employees at the forefront, otherwise there will be low morale and turnover. Scripture has much to tell us about the importance of putting others’ needs first and how to properly treat people. There are countless other examples.

In our class discussions, you will talk about principles like integrity, trust, honesty, and more, all of which have their basis in scripture. You do not have to agree with these principles, nor do we require you to be a Christian to be a student. All you need to do is to have an open mind and a willingness to engage and understand why Christians believe these things. And if you begin to see their applicability to today’s business world, then you may even find a new appreciation for how the Bible can relate to our world today. In any given class, you should expect to find a robust discussion from a diverse group of students, each with their own background experience to share, led by an expert instructor who will guide and teach you new principles and skills to grow in your career. You should feel free to engage, debate, question, even respectfully disagree, but you should always feel challenged. After all, a good education is not to affirm but to stretch you beyond your comfort zone to see things from unique and different perspectives. Graduates today must go beyond working in the world with a “my way or the highway” approach which leads to poor morale and lack of commitment.  Instead, they must foster consensus and collaboration among different groups and competing interests.  To do that, today’s leaders must understand not what they believe but why others believe what they believe. The Geneva classroom is the perfect training ground to develop that skill.  And we have been doing this successfully for a long time. Geneva College has been in existence since 1848. A College (even a Christian one) would not exist for that long unless it has developed a strong reputation for preparing people well for their life and career.

Every year at graduation, I see ADP students who have completed their life’s goal of earning their college degree. I see them celebrating with their families, and the expressions of their children as Mom or Dad walks across the stage to get their diploma is priceless. And every year after graduation an adult student comes up to me to thank me and says something like, “You know I wasn’t sure at the beginning how well I would do in a program that is Christian, but now that I completed it, I really appreciate the attention to the Christian faith.”

So if you have been asking the question, “Why should I finish my degree at a Christian college?” maybe you have been asking the wrong question. Maybe you should be asking, “Why not?”

- John Gallo, MS, MBA,
  Dean of Graduate, Adult, and Online Programs