Myths: Debunked!

So you think a Lutheran education isn’t for you? Don’t sell yourself short! Below are some common misconceptions about Lutheran colleges and universities. We invite you to read on so you don’t miss out on a great experience.

Young woman looks through a microscopeMYTH:

Liberal arts colleges and universities aren’t career-oriented and don’t teach the skills I will need to compete in today’s job market.

FACT:

A liberal arts education will not only give you the tools you need to be talented and versatile in a constantly changing economy, but also enrich you as a person and member of the global community.

A Life Learner

Some people think of big public universities as being more career oriented than small colleges. While it is true that a larger institution can be just right for many people, especially if they are set on one profession or career path, a liberal arts education ensures that a student has a solid and broad education. Lutheran colleges and universities offer a challenging curriculum that prepares students to be problem-solving, curious, hard-working, dynamic individuals who are able to accomplish great feats in many areas.

A Liberal Arts Education

Gain Experience

The availability of extra curricular activities and work-study positions often allow students to gain important skills and build their resumes as they earn their degrees. Students also partake in independent study courses that allow them to specialize in a specific area of study. In addition, graduates who attended Lutheran colleges and universities were almost twice as likely to say they had completed a college-sponsored internship as those who graduated from public universities.

BlueState University Alumni

RedLutheran Alumni

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I participated in a college-sponsored internship.

The bottom line is that our graduates can compete and are successful in their careers.

MYTH:

Private colleges are much more expensive than public ones and I won’t be able to afford this type of education.

FACT:

With the amount of financial aid available at Lutheran colleges and universities, and our success in ensuring that students graduate in four years, private colleges are much more affordable than most people think.

It’s tempting to compare private college and public university tuition costs and assume that you just can’t afford a private education. Don’t jump to that conclusion without looking a little deeper:

  • Over three quarters of Lutheran college and university students, at all income levels, receive financial aid – much of it in grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid. At some Lutheran colleges and universities, as many as 80 percent receive financial aid – with individual institutions offering average grants that range from $8,000 to $16,000 per year. Never assume your household income makes you ineligible for financial aid. There are many factors that go into determining financial need.
  • Most Lutheran colleges and universities also offer a variety of scholarships that are not based on financial need, but instead reward a student’s academic achievement or talent in a particular area or support specific career goals.
  • Our financial aid officers know that a family’s financial situation can change suddenly, with job change or loss, or unexpected medical expenses. They’ll work with you to ensure that your son or daughter’s education is not interrupted.
  • A high percentage of public university students take five or more years to graduate, paying more of that “cheaper” tuition, and foregoing a year or more of income – which now averages around $30,000 for recent college graduates. The vast majority of Lutheran college and university students graduate in four years, saving a year or more in tuition, and entering the workforce sooner.
  • Most financial aid awards include student loans – but with low interest rates, long repayment periods and payment deferral while the student is in college, these loans do not create an unmanageable burden. At one prominent Lutheran university, for example, the average total debt for loan recipients who graduated in 2001 was $18,000. Under a typical repayment plan, this works out to $215 per month, or about eight percent of the average graduate’s $30,000 salary.
  • The earlier you start thinking about paying for college, the better. There’s a wide variety of saving and financing options that can help bring a Lutheran education within reach, including a Private College 529 Plan.

Students sit around the Concordia University college sign.

MYTH:

You have to be Lutheran to go to a Lutheran college or university.

FACT:

You don’t have to be Lutheran!

We are welcoming to all students, regardless of their faith background. Are we the right place for every student? Not necessarily. Students and families who believe that faith should be held entirely separate from higher education will struggle to find their place on our campuses. We expect only that our students believe that faith is important to many people and that it is deserving of respect and lively discussion.

Why Should I Attend?

Lutheran or not, a Lutheran college or university is a wonderful place to learn. Lutheran colleges and universities center themselves around a set of core goals and values, including a commitment to small class sizes, attention to individual students, delivery of financial aid and development of the whole person. In addition, they offer a challenging curriculum set at a rigorous academic pace. Professors are available, opportunities are abundant and the sense of community is warm and vibrant. Many prospective students arrive on campus for a visit and immediately feel comfortable and at home.

What Role Does Faith Play in Education at a Lutheran College or University?

There are tremendous differences of opinions about the role faith should have in any education, from preschool through graduate programs. We appreciate an active discussion about this very issue – because it acknowledges that a comprehensive education should engage in serious thinking about the meaning of faith in our lives.

Students sit in a circle outside for class with the chapel in the background.

As befits a Lutheran group of colleges and universities (Martin Luther was, after all, someone who delighted in asking difficult questions), we feel that faith is a central part of a comprehensive education. This does not mean we expect students to come to believe a prescribed list of tenants. It means, instead, that we feel that a discussion of one’s purpose and the meaning of life is as important as high quality science education, or one’s physical health.

Every College and University is Different

The ways in which we approach a faith-based education are diverse. There are daily or weekly chapel services. There are choirs that almost exclusively sing Lutheran hymns, and choirs that sing predominately secular music. Some of us have multiple campus pastors, some a single person. Some of us require multiple religion classes and some none at all. On most of our campuses the majority of students are not Lutheran, so we have active groups of students who have different beliefs.

A Faith-based Education Matters

A faith-based education matters in many ways, from the international to the personal. Major public policy questions pivot on the religious beliefs of our citizens. Local communities are enhanced by the good works completed by churches and other religiously based organizations. People who are married in churches have lower divorce rates than those married outside an organized faith.

We want our graduates to know who they are. We want them to know how to discern what is important and meaningful, in their lives and in the lives of those around them. In short, we want them to strive to be complete human beings, and we believe no one can truly strive to achieve such success without a healthy and challenging discussion of faith.

MYTH:

I won’t have as many opportunities available to me at a small college.

FACT:

A scene of packed bleachers as the Gustavus crowd goes wild.With a smaller student body, opportunities are not only available, but more abundant!

Small colleges and universities give young students the chance to get involved early, sometimes in activities in which they have little previous experience. Students are often a part of many groups; an athlete can sing in the choir and be part of an environmental concerns group. Or if you can’t find the group you are looking for, small colleges encourage the innovation and initiation of creating new campus groups and organizations. In small Lutheran college and university communities, you are not just another face in the crowd.

 
 
Private College 529 Plan
Thrivent Financial
LCMS
ELCA