Baby boomers who converted during the Jesus movement and the charismatic renewal in the 1970s are largely driving the trend of parents insisting on Christian college education as an alternative to today’s secular culture.
That was one of the findings of a Washington Times (Sept. 8) report on the new growth of Christian colleges. The newspaper visited nine thriving Christian campuses to find out why these institutions are “faring better proportionately than their secular counterparts. Enrollment for the 104 evangelical schools affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCU) increased 47 percent during the 1990s, dwarfing the growth rate of secular private and public colleges and universities, which grew by 17 percent and four percent, respectively.
While only totaling about one percent of the nation’s 15.8 million college students, Christian colleges are competing with secular schools by their improved programs and facilities and their strongly values based education, which appeals to parents, writes Julia Duin. She adds that it is those colleges that have retained or renewed their Christian identity that are showing the most growth and increased donor funding. For instance, more conservative Southern Baptist schools such as Baylor and Palm Beach Atlantic University are more likely to be the recipients of “faith-based giving” among parents and other donors than more liberal Wake Forest and Furman universities.
The trend is being fed by the more conservative Generation Y (or “millennials”) as well as by baby boomer parents who are pressing for the once discarded notion that colleges should act “in loco parentis,” or in the absence of parents. “Christian institutions are saying, `We will partner with parents to raise your kids. We see ourselves as having a much broader role than just giving out information in the classroom,” says Ken Mahanes of Palm Beach Atlantic.