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Considering Religion in the College Application Process

A recent article on CNN.Com discussed religiously-based schools that are cutting tuition. The article, Want Cheaper Tuition? Find Faith, highlights some of the changes religious colleges are making.   Some of the school are cutting tuition in order to “stay afloat.”  While others site the need to reduce student loan debt as the motivating factor.

Students often consider religion when they are looking at colleges.  It can be an important factor in the creation of your college list.  While tuition and cost are also important, you should not attend a religiously-based school simply because they give you a good deal.  Here are some things to consider when you are thinking of adding religion to your list of college criteria:

– What role does religion play in your life now?  Is it a central part of your daily routine or is it not even in a part of your life?

– How important is it for you to be around others who have the same faith and values?  I recently worked with a student who did not think attending a religious college would be important to her, until she did some overnight visits to potential schools.  She quickly realized that she was more comfortable at the colleges where others shared her same beliefs.

– Can you seek out religiously affiliated groups on your own?  If you do look into colleges that are not religiously-based (or not based in your faith) you can often find student groups and other support systems on campus.  If you are Jewish, for example, find out if there is a Rabbi on campus.  Try to meet up with members of the student Hillel organization when you visit campus.

– Is there are religion course requirement?  If you are not particularly religious, yet you are interested in a faith-based school, consider what may be expected of you.  Are students required to attend a service?  Do they have a religion course requirement?  If so, are you able to take courses that explore a wide-variety of religions (some colleges offer everything from Buddhism to courses that exam religion and film).

The bottom line is that religion may be just one of the many factors to consider when looking at colleges.  The trick is to figure out just how important it is, which can be difficult.

Katherine Price

Educational Consultant

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