What Do Parents Look for in Christian Colleges? Study Reveals Surprising Statistics

What Do Parents Look for in Christian Colleges? Study Reveals Surprising Statistics Sponsored by

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By , CP Contributor | Sep 18, 2018 12:14 PM (PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK)The study, conducted by the Barna Group in collaboration with the Association for Biblical Higher Education, asked parents of prospective students to identify what they consider to be the goals or ultimate purpose of college education.

Most parents inclined toward Christian colleges and universities prioritize spiritual goals over career prospects when it comes to their child‘s education, a study has found.

The , conducted by the Barna Group in collaboration with the Association for Biblical Higher Education, asked parents of prospective students to identify what they consider to be the goals or ultimate purpose of college education.

Most prospective parents primarily see college as a place for their child to determine their career path (70%), gain practical job skills (66%) and increase earning potential (61%), the study found. Spiritual goals, such as growing spiritually (35%) and learning about the Bible (20%), are generally low on the priority list, Barna found.

However, researchers found a significant priority difference between parents who are inclined toward Christian education and all prospective parents.

In contrast to the top goals among all parents, those inclined to Christian education have spiritual growth as their top priority (75%), followed by determining career path (63%), increasing earning potential (52%) and discerning God‘s plan for their child‘s life (49%).

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While parents inclined toward Christian education are, along with all parents, concerned about their child‘s career prospects, these concerns “seem to fall under, rather than trumping, more God-centered priorities,” Barna noted.

“[A]lthough the Christian parents of prospective students inclined toward Christian education definitely prioritize spiritual goals more than other parents, they too want career development in their child‘s education,” says the study.

When asked to highlight the unique strengths of both Bible colleges and Christian colleges and universities, parents of prospective students overwhelmingly viewed both school types to be strong on spiritual formation and community. Christian colleges and universities, however, are perceived as stronger overall when it comes to educational factors.

Other survey choices that ranked at the top were “sense of community at school,” “faculty accessibility,” and “positive reputation.”

Both school types are perceived as weak when it comes to “expensive tuition,” and a minority of parents also perceives a lack of ethnic diversity as a weakness for both Christian colleges and universities and Bible colleges.

“If Christian and Bible colleges want to successfully appeal to and serve these potential students, addressing a lack of diversity must become a priority,” says Barna.

Overwhelmingly, parents exert influence over their children‘s college decisions, the study found. According to more than half of Christian prospective students (56%), mothers are important influencers when it comes to their college decisions, and two in five say their father is an important influence (41%).

Barna and his colleagues conclude that, for stakeholders in Christian higher education seeking to recruit and enroll traditional students, this research is important, because “understanding their parents is nearly as important as understanding the students themselves.”

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