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Traditional higher education is passing through troubled waters.

Overall, college costs continue to rise. Though more financial aid is available, more students than ever are seeking aid. And the interest rate on subsidized college loans will increase unless Congress acts by July. Less expensive, web-based instruction poses stiff competition to the classic four-year residential model. Many schools are ill-prepared for the so-called "browning of America," in which Hispanic and Asian student populations continue to outpace the Anglo population's much slower growth.

Evangelical colleges face additional challenges for their staunch commitment to biblical teaching on human sexuality, human origins, and the authority of Scripture. Christianity Today invited two new college presidents, Philip Ryken (Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, 2010) and D. Michael Lindsay (Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, 2011) to discuss these and other issues. CT's deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan recently interviewed them together on Wheaton's campus.

There is much doom and gloom about the future of higher education. Some argue it's simply too expensive. Others argue that Christian higher education can't compete with its secular counterparts. How do you respond?

Lindsay: I find it astonishing that people are questioning the value of Christian higher education. If I have to put my finger on the defining difference between what we offer and what our peers at [secular] institutions offer, there is something about the level of commitment that emerges from shared faith between faculty and staff and students. It's qualitatively different.

Ryken: A lot of the learning takes place beyond the curriculum. ...

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March 2012

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