What makes your school great? What makes it different?

We ask a lot of colleges and universities what sets them apart from the many competitors in higher education today. These are the kinds of answers we get:

  • Here you’re a name, not a number.

  • The community is so tight-knit here—we’re more like a family than a college campus.

  • At our college, we’re educating the whole person—not just the mind, but the heart and soul as well.

  • Our professors teach from a Christian worldview and pray before class.

  • Small class sizes and low student:faculty ratio.

  • Our professors give their cell phone numbers to their students.

Sound familiar? If you’re doing faith-based higher education right, some or all of the above bragging points will be true of your school. These will set independent liberal arts colleges apart from big state schools, from community colleges, from schools without the same faith commitments. But they don’t set you apart from other faith-based colleges. 

When telling your story, you’ve got to tell about your small student-teacher ratio, your professors’ commitment to classroom instruction, and the fact that your students succeed because they feel connected to a strong community, and they know their professors care about them. Those are all key factors of your school’s greatness. But they’re also key factors to the greatness of other schools that share your values and commitments. And those schools will be telling their story to many of the same prospective students to whom you’re telling yours.

So what sets you apart from other private colleges? Programs? Facilities? Cost? Location? It’s relatively easy to differentiate your school from state schools and community colleges and secular liberal arts colleges. But if you’re going to attract the right mix of students, you need to be telling a story that differentiates you from other Christian institutions of higher learning.

This is the first in a series of five posts about differentiating your college. Next week: the Importance of the Campus Visit.