Photo courtesy of University of Mobile

Your Voice: ‘Experience the Difference’ of Christian higher education

By Lonnie Burnett
President, University of Mobile

A recent Gallup poll found that the public’s perception of higher education continues to drop. Only about one third of Americans say that they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot of confidence” in post-secondary education. Likewise, a Wall Street Journal survey documented that less than half of respondents thought college was worth the cost.

Elite companies, facing a profound labor shortage, are enticing high school students to skip further education and enter the workforce immediately.

Lonnie Burnett.

Politicians and financial gurus are warning families against taking out student loans to pursue degrees that may or may not provide a sound return on investment.

A university president can respond to this data and these trends in one of two ways.

The first is to develop a hand-wringing, woe-is-us attitude.

The second is to prove the nay-sayers wrong by showing the unique worth of a Christ-centered institution.

At the University of Mobile, we are pursuing the latter option.

We are rolling out a marketing campaign which invites students to “Experience the Difference.”

I believe what we uniquely do is not only valuable, but today is more crucial than ever. It is valuable because of our difference.

At the University of Mobile, our difference can be summarized by the three Ps.

The first difference is our product. We offer the very best in high-quality academics. With over 75 programs ranging from associate to doctoral degrees, we provide a solid educational foundation for a successful career.

A second difference is our people. In addition to teaching, our faculty and staff see themselves as mentors. A school of our size can provide a needed personal support system for students who are facing increasing societal pressures.

Finally, and most importantly, is our purpose. We never stray from our motto, which is “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.” Everything we do is tied to our mission as a Christian institution. We want our graduates to know not just their field, but their God and their calling.

Worthwhile investment

That is the difference which makes the University of Mobile a valuable experience and a worthwhile investment for students and families.

We invite you to visit YOUR Alabama Baptist university and experience the difference for yourself.

Trusting ‘the Lord to lead me where He wanted’

The master’s level work of becoming a registered dietitian was my first experience in trusting the Lord to lead me where He wanted.

Throughout the 18-month internship/master’s program at Samford University, I faced many challenges and discouragements. I fell away from the church and dwelt in self-pity instead of trusting the Lord’s sovereignty. My godly grandparents and parents made sure to guide me and push me to connect with a local church.

Near the end of my internship, I drove by a church on Raleigh Avenue in the Homewood area of Birmingham.

Finding a local church

The next Sunday I attended and Pastor Michael Ent’s sermon on trusting God’s guidance was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have been in that church almost every Sunday since.

Attending a local church is important for young believers. I have continued to face many “fork in the road” moments this past year as I progress in my career, but attending and becoming involved with the church has allowed me to focus on the Lord’s purpose for my life.

The Bible is full of references to food from Adam and Eve sinning (Gen. 2–3) to the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26). I have a passion to be a witness for God’s glory and my credential as a registered dietitian is the tool that He has given me to pursue that calling.

Because I have found a local church that is also dedicated to sharing the gospel, I am supported by other godly members.

I encourage all college students and new graduates to find a local church.

Churches are the hands and feet of God. They are not merely resources that offer free meals. (Enjoy churches that do feed you, however; there is nothing wrong with a free meal.)

Use your skills and talents to honor God. God can use anyone with or without a specific skill.

Find a church that can strengthen and build you up in your walk with the Lord.

James Price, RDN

Advice for incoming college freshmen

By Beck A. Taylor
President, Samford University

Samford University has a long tradition of inviting incoming freshman students and their families to campus for orientation sessions during the summer before our new students enroll. This time provides opportunities to familiarize students and families with the many details that will enable a smooth transition to college.

Beck A. Taylor.

At each orientation session, I take a few moments to welcome and encourage our newest Bulldogs. Understandably, anxieties about this important milestone are high as students prepare to leave the nest and embark on the next stage of their educational journeys.

I typically share these six pieces of well-tested advice:

  1. Trust in God. The same faithful God that led them to college will meet them in their new home. God is doing something special in their lives, and if they seek Him, God will make His plans known. Students should grow in their Christian faith as they gain more independence.
  2. Be grateful. None of us is where we are in life without the investments of others and gifts from the Lord. I encourage our new students to maintain a posture of gratitude in all things, and to not take for granted the amazing opportunities they have.
  3. Keep the end in mind. Most of our students are pursuing a four-year degree. That’s a long time, and many things will happen during their years in college. I remind them that it’s up to all of us to ensure everyone in the room crosses the finish line and earns their degrees. Although there will be setbacks during these years, the goal of completing a rigorous education is in sight for all of the students.
  4. Invest in relationships. At no other time in their lives will students be around so many different people with varied stories and backgrounds. Relationships with faculty, staff members and students will form the backbone of their experience, and they will make friends for life.
  5. Seek challenges. Students should take full advantage of the learning opportunities available to them. Getting outside their comfort zones and stretching themselves intellectually and socially is critical to maximizing their college experience.
  6. Go to class. Students who fall behind academically often report that their troubles began by skipping classes. Being proximate to professors and peers who want the best for them is the surest way to stay on top of things. Going to class is the easiest part of college.

Some Baptist associations have a goal to connect at least one church with every elementary, middle and high school in the area. This provides ongoing ministry to students, teachers and administrators for the coming year.

Parents are launching new high school graduates into careers, further training or college or university experiences. The next stage of life for their children and letting go of them at the same time brings challenges churches should help parents address.

In some cases, this next stage means there are empty nest households that now need a new dimension of ministry. They now must figure out what the rest of their lives look like.

How will your association respond to these great open doors of ministry God has placed before the churches?

George Bullard
ForthTelling Innovation Ministry

Of all the decisions you’ll face this year as a college student, the most important one may be whether you get up and go to church on the very first Sunday when no one is there to make sure that you go.

What you do in those first weeks on your own, especially what you do with your commitment to a local church, will set you on a trajectory where Jesus Christ will truly be Lord of your life or where He will be something that you learned as a young person and then left behind.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung
Author of “Do Not Be True to Yourself: Countercultural Advice for the Rest of Your Life”

Our ultimate call is to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). Your theology will heavily influence your doxology. A love for Jesus, His Word and living it out has sticking power.

Shane Pruitt
National next gen director
North American Mission Board


The more we remind our students to love God and their neighbor … the less they fear and therefore become better problem-solvers.

Shirley Hoogstra

President of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities



Never fall into the belief that you were not made for the position you’re in. Your faith shouldn’t rest in your strengths but in God’s grace. … He has a plan, He has a purpose, and He is always making a way (Isa. 43:19).


President, Southeastern University


Alignment. Integrity. Staying mission-centric. These are “best practices” for all organizations. But colleges and universities that carry a faith-based identity are doubly accountable to ensure that the distinctive education they promise is ably delivered.

Paul Kaak

Coach, consultant at TheoMetrics


#ChristianHigherEd is a catalyst that prepares the next generation of leaders to be influential, passionate and caring in their professions and towards their neighbors.

Council for Christian Colleges and Universities