By Kelley Ditzenberger, HS Principal
I confess, I'm a big sports fan. When I sit down to watch a game, my youngest child, Lydia, always asks, "Dad, who are you rooting for?" 90% of the time I care who wins (when I was 20 it was 100% of the time...let the older readers understand). In that mere 10% of the time that I don't care or haven't thought of it, I quickly tell Lydia, "Of course, it's __________, the team that it is the underdog."
I think most of us are that way. We want to see the little guy win. We've all been there. We've all been the outsider, the disadvantaged, the one who has to fight for a spot at the table. We at ICS can certainly relate. Every day we are the smallest fish in a very big pond of large and deep-pocketed international schools. We are so glad you have been able to look past the superficial and look to values that go beyond the gilded glimmer.
We encourage our students to take this approach too. When they are in the midst of looking at colleges and universities, whether that be in Mrs. Thompson's office, in casual conversations, in steering them to the small college booth on college fair day, we want them to see the value of what a small, Christian college or university offers. There are MANY to choose from.
In case you are tempted to stop reading because a Christian college is simply too expensive, please know that they are more than willing to go great distances to work with families on the cost. One of my daughters is at a large state university-her financial aid decreased significantly after her second year (even though her grades have exceeded their minimum goals to maintain her aid). But alas, she's really just a number to the administration. When I was tempted to leave my small Christian college, Seattle Pacific University, they took great strides to make the cost affordable to me and my family. Mine is just one story, yes, but it is repeated countless times across the United States.
Hear from our own esteemed faculty about a few "ICSes of the college world":
Tricia Verver - Dordt College, Iowa
Attending a small Christian college allowed me to develop good relationships with my professors, which helped me see their true care and concern for me as their student. It also helped me develop a biblical worldview, truly enlightening my perspective of the world around me when I left my comfortable college 'bubble.'
Andrea Lawrence - University of Northwestern, Minnesota
I went to a school in the Twin Cities of Minnesota - it is now the University of Northwestern, St. Paul - that was a small Christian private school that taught me a lot about community and growth. The community there was hands-down one of my favorite parts of the college/university, I think because I came from ICS Singapore that was such a tight-knit community when I was in high school. That was very valuable to me, knowing they generally had the same moral values, and were a fantastic support while I was in the States in college and my family was overseas. I also thought, after having Bible classes all my years of high school, that I knew so much about the Bible; but I gained a new perspective of different areas of the Bible and "Christian life" - specifically about prayer.
Arlie Martin - Asbury University, Kentucky
Going to Asbury gave me a sense of purpose because the class sizes were small enough that I could be poured into and mentored by my professors in a field that I wanted to later be a part of myself. There was a true sense of Christian fellowship and community that helped to build me up at times when I was stressed, tired, broken, or questioning. Going to a small Christian school also allowed me to have a safe environment as I went through the tumultuous stages of deciding exactly what I believe and why.
Marjorie Kennedy - Judson University, Illinois
While I was a student at Judson, I knew the professors were invested in their students. I am especially appreciative of the academic adviser I had. I've been able to see how the professors have invested in our two children while they were/are at Judson. It makes it easier knowing that our children have been/are in a nurturing environment while we live in Singapore.
Kalie Sokolow - Covenant, Georgia
Being at a smaller Christian college, I was able to form personal relationships with my professors. Since class sizes were smaller for the most part, I felt like the professors were able to personalize their lectures for each individual class. It showed that they cared about giving us the best education possible. We were more than just names on a paper. They were also able to give us multiple perspectives about topics rather than just a narrowed and opinionated view, all while keeping the main focus on the ultimate meaning of life in this world. Furthermore, another thing I greatly appreciated was that they were able to show their support in our extracurricular activities. I often times had professors encouraging me in the sport I played. This happened for all of our sports teams. It gave a sense of unity throughout our whole campus, from in the classrooms to out on the sports fields.
Chelsey Smith - Kentucky Christian University, Kentucky
I think the main reason that a Christian College education is valuable is because it teaches students to see the world and their vocation through the lens of their faith. I think in our culture right now, it is a common view to see the sacred and the secular as different things, and religion isn't expected to shape how someone views their work. My degree was in Biblical Studies, so naturally my faith is expected to shape my work, but I had plenty of friends who learned to approach their fields differently while at KCU. Also, most Christian colleges tend to be smaller, which allows for professors to actually mentor students and to help them prepare for the challenges they will face in their fields. For me, that was invaluable.
Judith Shang - Grove City College, Pennsylvania
Small enough community to grow and establish myself in confidence as a maturing adult to the point that by senior year, I knew it was time to enter the "real world". My main ministry and experience was spent in ResLife. I loved the investment the school and the ministries poured into building leadership skills as well as the personal care from the staff. I also bugged Career Services for nearly two years and they still to this day keep tabs on me to see how I'm doing!
Katie den Hartog - Trinity Western University, British Columbia, Eh!
I attended Trinity Western University and I would say what made my experience distinct and valuable, was the fact that I was known. I was not just a number or a face in the crowd, but all my professors knew me, and cared about me. I could give a very specific example if you want :-) Being a Christian University, I was exposed to philosophies and theories of the world, but there was always discussion that brought us back to God's Word. We were not sheltered from the world but really taught how to think critically about what we read, heard, and saw going on and apply our Biblical Worldview.
Brittany Fields - Asbury University, Kentucky
One of the reasons that my experience at Asbury University was so valuable was the support that I received. Due to the size of the school, I felt as though I got much more one-on-one time with professors and staff when I needed it. I also appreciated how the school challenged my faith and pushed me to dig deeper and learn more about Christianity and who Christ is.