Baptist college wannabe
February 9 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Baptist college wannabe | Friday, Feb. 9, 2001

Friday, Feb. 9, 2001

Baptist college wannabe

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor My undergraduate college years were spent in a large, public university, and they weren't bad years. I'm grateful for the educational opportunities, the partial scholarship, and the flower-power college experience I enjoyed at the University of Georgia. I learned many things there, and have since forgotten many things - including the names of every single professor who taught me. In contrast, I can name every teacher who guided my education at Southeastern Seminary and in Duke's graduate school. My forgetfulness when it comes to college professors is not just a product of distance in time - I can recall every teacher who taught me in grades one through twelve, from Meta Booker to Willie Ruth Freeman to June Kelly and Clinton Hogan.

Why don't I remember my college teachers? Class size had something to do with it, for there were up to 200 students in some introductory courses. Having come from a small school in a small town, I didn't feel like a little fish in a big pond - I felt like a guppy in the ocean. I also felt a bit like a product in a factory. I don't want to suggest that none of my teachers cared about their students, but they had precious little time to show it. I was academically successful but strangely unconnected.

The salvation of my college experience was the Baptist Student Union (BSU), where friends and staff fostered personal and spiritual growth in tandem with my intellectual experience. There I found new friends and new mentors - people whose names I remember. I was also challenged to think new thoughts and explore new areas of mission and ministry.

I don't regret my college years, but there are times when I wish I had attended a Baptist college where academics, spirituality, and personal growth are more of a package. As I look back, however, I don't remember giving a Baptist college any consideration. I'm not even sure I was aware of the option - my first real exposure to Baptist colleges came at annual BSU conventions, where Baptist colleges generally brought impressive choirs and busloads of students.

N.C. Baptists are blessed with some of the finest Baptist colleges in the country. I have had the opportunity to visit all of their campuses in recent years, and to speak at most of them. Both students and faculty have impressed me with their zeal for learning and their joy in the Baptist college environment.

Many students and their parents may think they cannot afford to attend a private Baptist college. A visit to one of the campuses, however, will often dispel this mistaken notion. Supplementary grants from the state of North Carolina, endowed scholarships, and scholarships made available through funds from the Baptist State Convention can often bridge the gap between basic costs of a public university and a Baptist college. College loans are readily available, and additional discounts are usually offered for children of Baptist ministers and missionaries.

There is no guarantee that students will draw closer to God as a result of their experience at a Baptist college, or that they will avoid all temptations to go astray, or that they will flower academically.

I am convinced, however, that the nurturing environment and more intimate atmosphere offered by our Baptist colleges can greatly improve the chances of success in all of those areas, even as quality BSU programs provide spiritual and social supplements to students at secular schools.

Baptist colleges may not be the best fit for every Baptist student, but every Baptist student owes it to himself or herself to consider the option.

For more information on North Carolina's Baptist colleges, contact Wayne Wike at the Council on Christian Higher Education at ([800]395-5102 toll free, [919]467-5100 local (ext. 185), or e-mail

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2/9/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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