Jill McKay is a teacher, coach and the creator of Narrow Road Fitness, a scripture-based fitness and nutrition curriculum that’s used to provide training and support via churches. She attended the University of Delaware and Wilmington University for her undergraduate and graduate degrees, respectively.
Q: What were you looking for in a school and why were those factors important?
Personally, my college choice came down to money. I was planning to go to a smaller, quainter college in a different state. Then I was offered a scholarship as an in-state student at the University of Delaware. As far as education quality, location and programming, once the money was there, it became an easy choice. However, once on campus, I had to seek out programs that fit my needs.
When looking for a school, you need to decide if you want a purely Christian environment in which all classes are taught with a Christian frame of reference or if you are willing to listen to other points of view. If you plan to pursue a career in a topic that is offered primarily on a Christian campus, then your choice will be easy. If not, it will be a much more challenging decision.
When you build relationships with church leaders and those who share life in Christ, you are likely to make lifelong connections. You may want to check out the College Church Connection to see what Christian organizations are at your potential new school.
Q: How can Christian students choose a college that supports their faith?
College is often the first of many large decisions a young adult will make. How you respond to the new challenges on and off campus will determine whether you grow in or stray from your faith. While you may seek to get the most out of your college experience with so many choices and options, ultimately you are the only one responsible for nurturing your faith.
I suggest these three tips for choosing a college to support your faith journey:
- Inquire about Bible Study groups on or off campus. If none exist, there are online Bible study groups these days that make it easier to connect with others.
- Join or build a sense of community. Connect with a network of fellow believers so you can support each other along your journey.
- Engage in classes with a Christian point of view.
Q: How can Christian students balance a college social life with their faith?
College is notoriously a time of young adults trying on different attitudes and actions to test their freedom and have a plethora of new life experiences. At some point, those decisions can have a huge impact on the rest of their lives. It's often a place where we make life-long friends, find our spouse and choose our career path. Having Biblical guidance on these decisions is crucial. Having a supportive network of fellow Christians that will help keep you on the narrow road to life.
If possible, find a social group with Christian values. It’s great to have those people in your life to rely on in the event you feel pressured to be socially involved in an event where you may not feel comfortable. Try to develop an understanding with that group of friends where you can always count on them for socializing.
It’s also important to have social support to help you meet people with similar interests. It’s not uncommon to be placed in a dorm with someone from a completely different background. Sometimes, this can be eye-opening in a good way; other times, it’s important to remove yourself from the situation. There are campus staff ranging from resident assistants to housing staff that can help you in those situations.
Having a strong Christian network can help you navigate these new challenges. A pastor, especially one geared toward working with young adults, can also be especially helpful in navigating these situations.
Q: What resources helped support your faith on campus?
Even the smallest of college campuses have support for the Christian faith. I used the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship that met on my campus. I also joined a local church to feel connected to the larger community. It was within walking distance and many like-minded college students also attended. Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the World Student Christian Federation, Campus Outreach and the Navigators were also great resources.
Many of the huge churches these days started in a garage, apartment or basement. Don’t be afraid to use the internet to find a church service that keeps you connected to other Christians and in the Word.