076 Who Should Consider Christian Colleges with Jeremiah Gonia Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:58

There are over 150 Christian colleges in the US and Canada that belong to the Council for Christian colleges and universities. They include non denominational schools, enter denominational schools, Church of Christ Church of God Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and what else many other denominations. While most are liberal arts colleges with the curriculum rooted in the arts and sciences. There are some exceptions where students can find more technical majors like engineering and nursing. There are three commitments all CCC new member schools have in common. And yet, there is a wide range of experiences for students on these campuses. My guest, Jeremiah gonia, works at admissions at Asbury University, and I attended tailor University for my undergraduate degree. So we’re the perfect combo to discuss the nuances of Christian colleges. I’m Lisa, Martha Robbins, and I want to welcome you to college and for your clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Jeremiah, welcome.


Jeremiah Gonia  02:12

Welcome, Lisa. Thank you for having me. Oh,


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:15

so happy to have you. And I’m excited to talk about this topic. We previously had on someone that a couple people that wanted to talk about Catholic universities that we learned a lot. And I thought, hey, we’re embracing everybody on this show. So let’s talk about Christian colleges. And I went to one for undergrad and then ironically, went to a Catholic University for my grad program. So let’s dig in. You know, I think the first thing that confuses families who, you know, maybe they’re a Christian faith, and that’s something important to them, and they want a university a college experience that’s rooted in that has a routing, and that spiritual side really even began, how do they find a college like Asbury Taylor or the other 148 Some


Jeremiah Gonia  03:07

schools? Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So let me I love that you use the word nuance, because that is definitely what the Christian College landscape looks like in 2023, you may have some schools that are more on one side or the other, anywhere and everywhere in between. In terms of where to start with finding different schools that you had mentioned, the CCU, which is a great starting point, you can reference them online. But also know that not all Christian universities are part of the CCU. So that’s where it gets interesting as well diving into where where to find the some other opportunities, that is nadcap. So that is a organization that hosts a Christian college fairs throughout the country. There is a number of member schools as part of that, that would be a great starting point as well. And then obviously, you know, I think for any of the college search websites like niche or anything similar to that, typing in faith, Christian spiritual, you’re gonna come up with lots of options and not just read, I think sometimes we think of just the South or the Midwest, but even on the northeast, the East Coast, the West west coast, pretty wide ranging where you can find some of those Christian universities.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:27

Yeah, geographically. You’re right there everywhere, where there’s a higher concentration in the Midwest and South. We’ve got schools on both coasts. Absolutely. I know, college navigator.gov is a great search tool as well, and I think their filter is religious. So going in there, we will be sure in our show notes. To get all of the lengths I need that you can send it to me that Christian college fairs, circuit their website as well. Should I know that like the CCC You website has a map just like the Catholic universities does as well, where right away, it just shows you the whole North America map and you can start just clicking around. So that is a great first step when you know that you want something like that. Now, I want to go back to this idea, like you said, it’s nuanced. And I would say it’s, it’s like a continuum, what the student experiences, if we were to define the ends of that continuum, so I’m holding up my pencil right now. And so one in the right and in the left end, what would be words maybe, that we could think of, to help families understand that the range of schools and the experiences?


Jeremiah Gonia  05:49

Yeah, great question. So in terms of within religious colleges, and particularly within the Christian faith? Yeah, I mean, you’re gonna have everything from schools that have just a several 100. Let’s start with campus size, right? You’ll have some schools that are several 100 students to upwards of 20,000 plus students, you’ll have colleges that have maybe there is a a chapel requirements per week, maybe that’s every day. Maybe that’s optional, per week, per semester, maybe there are guidelines for students to follow while on campus. Maybe there’s not


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:31

like social behavior, let’s just call out what we’re talking there. Sure. I know, we had that at Taylor. And I looked up to say like, what’s it still like, because I’m 54. That was a long time ago that I went. And I noticed that not much had changed, like they saw on that one. I love it. First of all, here like wide range of sizes. So if you want a Christian college and you want a large school experience, you can find it. If you want the small, intimate small class size, you can find it and everything in between. Because that’s a lot of times people assume like you’re not going to be able to get the large school experience when you’re going with a Catholic or a Christian college. And that is not true. If we go with the what you said certain behaviors. So included in that might be drinking, it might be I know at Taylor, it was dancing when I was there in the 80s. And they kind of pulled that back on that one a little bit. But they still have a life together. Covenant that a student signed saying like, I won’t drink on our off campus, I won’t. So that’s more on the side of being stricter, although they don’t have any chapel required is encouraged. I know when I was there three times a week, hey, this is for your spiritual development. We hope you’ll come but the police weren’t there taking attendance that yet some universities, you literally have to check in when you’re coming to chapel. So what did they do at Asbury, I assume you guys have chapel of some sort? What does it look like there?


Jeremiah Gonia  08:03

Yeah, good question. So we have three chapels a week, and then a certain number required per semester. And we actually do have a check in process for for chapel. So it’s funny.


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:16

I want to hear it real quick. And yet, are you guys allowed to dance on campus?


Jeremiah Gonia  08:21

We are now. Okay.


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:24

So it’s interesting that the chapel requirement and ask varies a little more strict than and we’re picking on the two schools that we know the most. Obviously, there’s more than 150. So, but your chapel attendance is a bit more strict. But yet, like the social behavior, one at least on the dancing component is not any longer as compared to Taylor,


Jeremiah Gonia  08:46

who were picking on. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they’re, it’s fascinating to me as you dive into not just Asbury Taylor, but most Christian colleges, just the, almost like the progression of where they were and where they are now. And I dare say, you know, back in, you know, 80s 90s, even early as recently as the early 2000s, there were a lot of schools that had, you know, whether that’s things that we might, you know, get tickled about, like, you know, dress code, or, you know, walking on the same sidewalks or different things like that fast forward to now, I think we’re in a much healthier space and like, okay, we can kind of walk through some of these with young adults in a much better way.


Lisa Marker Robbins  09:29

What I also hear on that, and I liked that you bring that up, because, you know, I had to go back to the tailor website, preparing for this to say like, I wonder what the life Do they still have the life together covenant and what does that mean? You know, I get their publications as an alumni and stuff but I’m not digging into those nuances that a student of family that’s headed to college would want to know that these things and really figure out like, what is the experience like on that campus? So parents If you are exploring this with your child, and you went to a Christian college or you even have an impression, maybe you went to a public university, but you have a friend that was on a campus, things are not the same. So most of the parents who are listeners probably went to college in the 90s, I went in the 80s, things are not the same things are evolving. And so let’s not make assumptions. Let’s go out and do our homework, which is what we preach for everything on the college bound journey.


Jeremiah Gonia  10:30

Absolutely. Homework is crucial, and and even going to, you know, as those parents are looking through different opportunities, you know, we kind of mentioned that at the start of the show about all the different denominational backgrounds, and that’s something that schools, you know, some schools have very close to nomination ties, some families are comfortable with that some families are not. And it’s important to know, as you’re doing your homework, you’re doing your research, every school is different. I mean, there’s no two, obviously, there’s no two colleges alike, but especially within Christian universities in terms of the faith component. So I would recommend, to your point, whether that’s a covenant, you know, a spiritual life statement, most colleges have something similar that families can find online.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:21

Absolutely. So and I agree with that it was interesting as I was going through just the member list at CCCU, enter denominational nondenominational, so they’re not going to have that. But if you attend a Southern Baptist church or a Presbyterian and you want close ties, then you can find that you can get that and they even list that on the website, which I thought was really nice. So as we’re thinking about that, like, what other what are some of the hallmarks of the Christian colleges so that you’re going there to get an education, but and that’s going to be at any school secular or religious. But what else can students expect? Yeah, I would say


Jeremiah Gonia  12:03

most, not all, but most Christian universities are rooted within the liberal arts education experience of building a well rounded education outside of whatever major they go into, as well. I think another point that you might find whether that’s at a, you know, several 100 member students school, or 20,000, plus school, I think the word community, that’s something that gets used a lot within the framework of religious universities, the community on campus, building those closer ties with one another, maybe that’s with having that campus life as like a time string to that, but definitely that place of okay, yes, you’re here to receive an education and go on and get your job. But this is a place to build some of those deep rooted relationships as well. And I think also to your point about in terms of programs, it’s fascinating, which religious schools have more specific programs or not. So if you have a family that’s interested in going into any area of ministry, Walvis that’s a starting point. But then obviously, you know, whether that’s nursing cybersecurity, engineering, you know, I can speak to as Brian Taylor, we both have media programs, so students who are wanting to go into film and work within a camera work, that could be an opportunity. You know, it’s fascinating being located in Kentucky, equine. That’s another big one with working with the horse industry.


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:36

I noticed that when I was on your website, and I’m like, Well, of course, Lisa, they would have some sort of Equine programs. They are in the heart of Kentucky. And as we’re recording this, we literally just had the Kentucky Derby last weekend. So I liked that you bring that up, because it’s really important that we recognize that there’s, yes, there are some limitations because most of the schools are liberal arts colleges. And even if they’re a university, which has different divisions and schools in it, they still lean heavily into the arts and sciences. But don’t just dismiss you know, I’m always as someone who coaches, teens on college majors and careers and finding their best fit. I’m always looking through everything through that lens of, okay, the end goal of college is to successfully the end goal of college is to successfully launch this student into a career out of our nest, flourishing, thriving on their own and independence and independence. We are raising adults, we’re not raising kids to keep them kids, right. And so as I think about that lens, I love that I was like, Okay, now we’ve accrued you guys might be the only Christian college with equine. I don’t know. Do you know the answer to that? Oh, there’s only a few. Okay, there’s very Yep, it’s hard to find four year universities, with equine studies and programs. So, but I think it’s a great example of, if you have a niche interest for majors and careers, don’t just dismiss us Do your homework. You know, I noticed. So Taylor does not have nursing, but they do have a general engineering, you can get a bachelor’s degree in engineering and, you know, they list recruit, you know, the corporations that are recruiting out of their program, and the are some really powerhouse recruitment going on there. Talk a little bit about how you guys handle majors like, because this isn’t unique to asthma, you know, engineering and nursing. So if we’re going to have, again, on this continuum of majors, we’re going to have some Christian schools that have a full nursing program on campus, full engineering program on campus, Cedarville, tailor both have engineering, we’re gonna have on the other end, schools that just simply do not offer those more technical majors. But there’s a unique program kind of in the middle, and I know you guys do this for engineering and nursing. Can you tell everybody about how you guys handle that?


Jeremiah Gonia  16:17

Yeah, so a lot of the universities, whether it’s, they offer the full blown, BSN, you know, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or engineering, whatever it may be, they can offer that they also there are schools that partner maybe with larger universities as a way to offer those programs. So that was very, that’s something that we do, we have several partnerships, whether that’s with University of Kentucky irob, the Indiana Wesleyan, another Christian College for nursing. So we have several of those partnerships where students will start at Asbury, get the bulk of their classes, and then move on to that maybe, quote, unquote, larger program, where they can finish out that bachelor’s, and still have that opportunity to get the necessary life skills and get plugged in, that we may not just be able to offer at our university on campus.


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:13

So you know, in admissions, we also, we often call these three, two programs, you’re going to do three years at your original institution and Asbury, and you’re going to maybe do one or two years more at that main campus. But you’re earning a degree, a lot of times from both universities.


Jeremiah Gonia  17:34

Yes, absolutely. And you know, how we communicate that, yeah, to your point to three to a four, one, it looks different kind of wherever it may be, you know, you may have a lot of listeners who, while they’re in high school, are taking college credit taking, you know, getting some those college courses and requirements done. So I wouldn’t get too hung up on the exact language of those numbers. Because, to be quite honest, most students come in in now pindy, where they are and what opportunities are taking in high school, that three, two, that could be a two, two, that could be that could be a three, one, you know, there’s different opportunities for those students as well, the flexibility. So


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:19

that’s a great point. And so we really just need to say these are combined programs, correct. And so in, like in the case of your engineering program, you’re earning a degree from Asbury, and a degree from the University of Kentucky? Yes. And I we should add that these types of combination programs are not unique to Christian colleges. We see these we wouldn’t see those at some of the Catholic colleges, we would see these at secular colleges. I know there’s one of them here in Ohio, that I’m not going to use the name because I haven’t checked my facts recently on this. But they had for engineering, what they call a combined program with Case Western at one point, so and they were a secular private, liberal arts college. So it is a great option. Actually, it should be a whole podcast episodes at some point, these combined programs and how they work. So again, don’t rule things out based on this. So do you guys find in at Asbury or you are aware outside of Christian colleges like this is something we talked about with the Catholic universities? How would a student have a different faith? Or have no faith? Maybe they subscribe? They’re an agnostic or an atheist, or a different faith? You know, maybe they’re Jewish, or maybe they’re Hindu. What level of comfort or what would the experience be for one of these students at Christian universities? What should they expect? Because they might find a school that they love the school in their life. Yeah, and I do not subscribe to a Christian faith.


Jeremiah Gonia  20:03

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So going back to the word nuanced, that’s gonna look pretty different, right? So there’s going to be some Christian colleges where maybe they require a statement of faith coming in the college for those students, then that might be, you know, a hard No, for a lot of schools to be quite honest. And they’ll probably fall in this middle category of, you’re not, you don’t have to be of the Christian faith to attend here. However, we do have these opportunities, these things happening on campus, just so that you’re aware that these are going on, you know, and then it’s kind of up to the students perspective, if they feel comfortable or not within that, and then there’s going to be other schools where, you know, maybe, I hate to say, but maybe Christian, unnamed, but not necessarily. And so then, in terms of that religious not religious aspect coming in for a student, they can those students might feel more comfortable at an environment where, hey, this is a little bit more of an optional setting. So it’s pretty wide ranging based off of the school or university.


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:16

Yeah, well, you know, as you say that, and I think about that last category where you said, their Krishna name, sometimes it’s because they historically were rooted, you know, in the 1800s. To that very long time ago, now, they had a relationship with a church, and it’s there, but it’s very loose now. And so they’re not going to have a statement of faith, they’re not going to have chapel. I know, when I was at Taylor, we had to take, you know, Old Testament New Testament, we had to take one faith based class religion class per year that we were there. So do you guys have anything like that? It it Asper?


Jeremiah Gonia  22:00

Yeah, so we do have several religious classes that students are asked to take as part of our foundational courses, via TierPoint, that’s gonna look different, you know, some schools, to your point have been founded and existed for hundreds of years. And maybe they, they’re rooted in that tradition. That’s a word you’ll hear a lot, but maybe not necessarily that tradition plays out on a daily basis.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:23

That’s a great way to put it. Well, you know, I think about I work with a lot of teens who they go to a Catholic High School, parochial High School, and they are not Catholic. And they, but yeah, they go and they take those classes, and you know, they feel just fine. So it’s not really different than that. But do your homework, know what you’re getting? One of the things I love I you know, we went into this conversation, I was defining maybe one continuum, as far as and I was thinking of the faith, social side of that continuum of, you know, faith being like, do you have to take religion classes? Or do you not the social side? Are there rules around alcohol dancing chapel or not? But I think what I’ve discovered through this is that was very much over simplified in my mind, and you’re dealing with maybe half a dozen continuums sighs, geography college majors. So there’s a lot more to think about. So what advice or any parting thoughts that you want to give to our listeners that we didn’t cover that you’re like, ah, as an admissions officer, and at a university, I would be remiss if our listeners didn’t know, is there anything we missed?


Jeremiah Gonia  23:45

You know, I would encourage families, as you said, do your homework, as you’re going on campus visits, highly recommend you can find out a lot of information online. There’s something also about being in person asking, maybe true, you know, I don’t want to use the word blunt, be very honest, thought provoking questions while on a campus visit. You know, if you are a family that is not religious, and you’re like, Okay, what does this look like here? Can you give us an actual, the actuality of what does that look like? Or maybe on the other side of that, maybe you are religious family, and you’re like, Okay, what this is our values as a family and what we hope for our students, what does that look like at this university? So I encourage families, visit colleges visit. And there’s, as we spoken, there’s a wide range, and then ask the hard questions. That’s what we’re here for. And I think that’s what is going to be most beneficial as they’re kind of going through that process, and finding ways for them to further flourish.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:50

Great. Well, how can listeners keep in touch with you or learn more about Asbury if they would like to?


Jeremiah Gonia  24:57

Yeah, great question. So we are Asbury. University is on all the social media channels. You can also go to our website asbury.edu. My contact information is there. I once again, my name is Jeremiah gonia. And I’m the Associate Director here at undergrad admissions for Asper.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:14

Okay, great. And we should say you’re in the greater Lexington Kentucky area.


Jeremiah Gonia  25:19

That’s correct. So central Kentucky. It’s a beautiful country around here.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:24

Yeah. Great. Thank you, Jeremiah.


Jeremiah Gonia  25:27

Thank you, Lisa.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:33

What great information. I love learning that with religiously affiliated colleges, Christian, Catholic and Jewish there is a continuum of experiences in something for just about anyone who wishes to have a faith based component to their college experience. And I know we’ve only scratched the surface. Your college bound homework for this week, is first to have a family conversation now, in order to define what you’re seeking in a Christian college experience. What are your desired outcomes? Only then should you begin to explore the helpful links we have in the show notes. If you’re interested in possibly attending a Christian college and begin then researching online before you get on campus? Do you know another family who is interested in a college rooted in their faith? share this episode with them so they have trusted resources for their search. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast where I help your family move from overwhelmed or confused to motivated, clear and confident about your team’s future.