Why study at a Christian College
Even if you hadn’t considered a Christian college before, Geneva College’s Dean of Graduate, Adult and Online Programs, John Gallo, talks about why attending a Christian college for an online degree program might actually be the best decision you ever make.
Benefits of Attending a Christian College
Christianity can seem like a lot to understand and take in, especially to a newcomer. In the By The Slice Podcast, I tackle this problem by taking key concepts and ideas from the Christian faith and Christian Higher Education and serve them up by the slice. Whether you’re a newcomer to the faith or a Christian looking to reconnect a little deeper, let’s work through these issues together.
Well, hello and welcome to By The Slice Podcast. My name is John Gallo, I am the Dean of Adult and Online Programs at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and my guess is that if you’ve stumbled upon this podcast, you’re probably one of two different audiences. The first is perhaps maybe you’re a prospective student looking to go back to school to finish your Bachelor’s Degree or maybe get a Master’s Degree and you’re a working adult, you’re busy with a family, and you came across this podcast through our website online.geneva.edu and you’re a little curious about what it means to finish a degree at a Christian college. My hope is this podcast is for you, that you’ll have a good understanding of some of the key concepts that impact adult students, what it means to be successful being an online student, and what it really means to study in an organization and a company in an institution like Geneva that puts Christ first.
The other audience is perhaps you’ve just stumbled upon this podcast because you’re just looking to dive a little bit deeper in the faith and you’re looking to learn a little bit more about concepts in Christianity and what’s happening in our culture today and my hope is you’ll get a taste of that as well, that there will be times in which we talk about important issues and things from a Christian perspective as well as look to scripture and pull out concepts from that perspective as well.
Now, before we get started with today’s podcast, I think it’s important that you probably get to know a little bit about me first, not because I’m anybody famous or I’ve done anything great, but because I can’t help but be biased in the way that I talk about things. I’ve had my own experiences growing up, I’ve had experiences shape me, I’ve had different perspectives on things, and so I’m going to do my best to try to be as unbiased as possible, but I can’t be because I’m a human being, so I have natural tendencies to look at things from a certain perspective.
Now the good news is that I basically had a very eclectic religious upbringing. I’m not someone that grew up in one denomination my whole life, I’ve actually been in various denominational perspectives and have a good, healthy appreciation for the things that unite us as a body of believers and I tend to be pretty open about differences in various denominations and why they come to those differences.
The second thing you should probably know about me is that, even though I am in higher education, I am not a trained theologian by trade. So if you are looking for some really thinking and you’re looking for someone that’s really going to attack various theological differences and positions and fight it out, this probably isn’t the best podcast for you. In fact, my goal is to try to use this podcast as a way to shine a light on the things that unite us as believers as opposed to those things that divide us as believers.
So with that in mind, my first topic that I want to discuss is a question that I often get from prospective adult students who are looking to go back to college. And maybe this is you. You’re looking to go back and finish your degree or maybe you’re coming out of the military and you want to finish your degree or maybe you have a degree and you want to get a Master’s Degree. And let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you are not necessarily a card-carrying member of the Christian faith. Maybe it’s been some years since you have graced the doorway of a church. And so you’re asking yourself, “Why on earth should I go back to college online at Christian college like Geneva College?“
And I think that’s a great question. And so I’m going to answer that question and I’m going to answer it in two ways. The first is going to be with a practical response and the second is going to be with more of a philosophical response, but they’re directly related so I hope I’m not stretching it too much. But in terms of our practical response as to why you should study at a Christian college like Geneva College, I want to point to an example that’s happening right now in our society.
If you’ve been watching the news or reading the newspapers or reading blogs, undoubtedly you have probably heard about the college admissions scandal. Have you heard about this? It’s where these wealthy people and celebrities were basically bribing college and university officials at prestigious schools across the country in order to reserve a place for their son or daughter. In some cases, they were using monetary bribes in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in other situations, they were even falsifying photographs of the person playing a sport so that they could get an athletic scholarship in that sport.
So I’ve been following this sort of issue, being in higher education myself I’m naturally interested in hearing about what’s happening in higher education and so I’ve been following it, and one of the things that I’ve found absolutely fascinating is how the people, particularly the celebrities, because they’re the ones that have been on television the most, for the longest time, those people had absolutely no clue that what they did was wrong. They were completely blindsided by the fact that it was wrong to use their money and their influence to bribe people in order to get a special place for their child at that university, and these are people who are often maybe on the front lines of fighting for social injustice issues and things like that and no care or no concern whatsoever that what they were doing could have possibly been taking away a seat at that university by someone who was less fortunate but who had earned it or by a person of color that could have earned that spot as well.
That attitude is basically the ramifications of a philosophy in our culture known as moral relativism. It’s a philosophy that basically says this, that there is no absolute truth, everything is relative, so what’s right for you may be wrong for me, what’s wrong for you and may be right for me. And that’s the practical implication of that philosophy is you wind up with people who think there’s nothing wrong with bribing other people to get their way. Well, that’s the exact type of education that you wind up often getting in a secular environment.
Graduate Programs – Master’s Degree From a Christian College
I completed one of my master’s degrees at a secular university, it was actually my MBA, and when you start to talk about issues about ethics and ethical principles and morals and values it is always simply just this surface-level understanding of the issue. So for example, let’s say you’re taking a class in human resources, Human Resource Management, you’ll learn about why it’s important a Human Resource Manager create good policies for employees in their company, and they’ll basically say this, “Well, it’s important to have good quality benefits and to treat your employees well because one, it’s the law, and two, you want to help people grow and prosper and develop.”
Now a Christian can hear that and you can agree with that as well, of course you want to do those things, but a Christian education goes a little bit deeper. The reason that an HR manager wants to treat their employees well and create policies and handbooks and things like that to help see their employees grow and develop is not just simply because it’s the law, and not simply because it’s a good thing to do to see them grow and develop, but we learn that people are made in the image of God, and because people are made in the image of God, there is an inherent value in that person that is much greater than there are in inanimate objects, plants, or even animals. And as a result, as long as that person has a breath of life in them, they have the ability to positively contribute to the society and potentially then also to help build up the kingdom of God.
And so that’s why an HR manager values their employees is because they are something way more precious than just the timecard they’re punching in and out on or the handiwork of their hands on the assembly line or the worker-product that they do in the office. It is because they have been made by a creator and they have been given the breath of life by that creator and, as a result, they have the ability to serve him, even if they don’t even acknowledge him as Lord and savior, they can still serve by helping out society and helping develop human flourishing. So that’s the practical implications of why you should go to a Christian college and study, like Geneva College. It’s because we basically don’t want you to bribe people, and other factors as well.
Now the philosophical response as to why you should study at a Christian college like Geneva College is simply this so that you can learn about reality. You see that moral relativism philosophy that I just described to you, that situation that’s occurring with the college admissions scandal. I think most people realize that moral relativism doesn’t work. It falls apart at the seams when you actually try to logically work it through to its inevitable conclusions. In other words, most people believe there are just some things that are right in this world and there are just some things that are plain wrong. Not everything is relative. And as a Christian, we understand that because we understand the source of what’s right and we also understand the source of what’s wrong and we will study why things are the way they are. We’ll understand why things will look like when they become fully right again, but we also will understand why things are wrong now and what we can do to help rectify that situation.
So you’re going to understand reality, the idea of moral relativism. To say that there is no absolute right or wrong is in and of itself an absolute statement. So that statement itself can’t even support the weight of its own argument. That’s the problem of moral relativism and that’s why coming to a college like Geneva College to study, you won’t wind up in playing a philosophical and logical sort of gymnastics to try to understand how to engage people. You’re going to understand that there are some things that we do because God tells us to do them, there are some things that we don’t do because God tells us not to do them, and there are other things that we do because God gives us principles by which we can properly engage the world around us, and there are rights and there are wrongs.
So hopefully that gives you a little bit of a taste of what it would be like to study online at a school like Geneva College and future podcasts will most certainly flush that out a little bit more. If you do have any specific topic or idea, by all means, drop me a line, I’ll be happy to research it. Otherwise, thanks so much for listening to the By The Slice Podcast.
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