What is the purpose of going to college? Is it to meet friends? To find your spouse and get that “ring by spring?” Is it to get a degree and prepare for what lies ahead?
For some, the college journey consists of many different components that affect the student’s overall experience. But what do students think should be a part of the college experience other than getting a degree?
At ORU, students come from all corners of the world, each bringing their own set of worldviews and beliefs.
This melting pot of student and faculty diversity results in the inevitable dissonance of perspectives.
But to what extent should students be challenged on what they believe?
Some students expect the university to present all positions on various issues, even those that might not be stereotypically “Christian,” pending on the adopted beliefs of the university.
This presents a challenge for those teaching and learning at ORU.
“Part of the university learning experience has to do with whether or not the university is a public or private institution,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lamp, an associate professor of theology.
However, some students believe there should not be constraints on what they are taught.
“I would expect my professors to make me feel uncomfortable at times,” said Logan Wallace, a junior writing major. “They are not here to coddle you; they are here to sharpen you.”
Aaron Hollenbaugh, junior psychology major, agrees.
“It should definitely stretch you,” said Hollenbaugh. “I have noticed in my life that I have gone from a more narrow mindset to a more accepting point of view.”
Students like Wallace and Hollenbaugh enjoy being challenged academically and conceptually.
“If they are not calling you out of your comfort zone, then you won’t grow,” said Wallace. “I want to be called out of my current level by people who are more mature than I and want to be sharpened by their maturity and expertise.”
When it comes to getting a quality education, most students feel that being subjected to non-traditional viewpoints can be beneficial. This thought process, however, has the propensity to be accepted or denied by some professors.
“Another aspect is whether or not the University has an openly expressed set of beliefs that restrict what can be taught [or to what extent],” said Lamp.
What about when students ask the hard, controversial questions?
“If the students desire to learn about a particular topic that fits within the parameters of a course, they should be allowed to pursue that investigation freely,” said Lamp.
Inevitably, a student will disagree with his or her professor. If the issue is serious, what are the appropriate measures to take?
“Go straight to the professor,” said Tim Morrison, a junior nursing major. “If I have a major issue with him, I am going to take it up with him.”
While some parents embrace the fact that their children are moving away from home in order to build independence, others worry their children will lose their faith when they are not nestled beneath the shelter of their parental wings. It can be tricky, as educators, to toe the line between pushing a student to think outside the box and purposely drawing a student away from his or her faith.
“Part of the problem,” said Morrison, “is that often times most Christians don’t really know what they believe, and even bigger so why they believe that. If we aren’t challenged, how will we recognize our lack of understanding?”
Often, students have their beliefs shaken or shattered in college because of unrealistic expectations that are put on the college experience. In the end, it seems that the students have the power to decide how they will be affected by the knowledge they receive in school.
“Zeal without knowledge is dangerous,” said Hollenbaugh. “If you don’t know the ‘why’ behind something, then that is a dangerous place to be. The university experience has helped me to know why. It has given me the knowledge to drive my God-given zeal.”
What’s the heart of the issue? It lies at the student’s desire to objectively discover what they believe, challenge what they find, and be open to the change that will take place when they engage in the university experience.