Time to look at some “local” California schools this winter. Here is my “aha moment” from Westmont College, 111 acres nestled in the hills above Santa Barbara. It came when the admissions director I was speaking with used the phrase “intentionally Bible-based” to describe Westmont. Her description captured the essence of the environment one feels on campus.
Although among the 1313 exclusively undergraduate students there are a handful of non-Christians, our tour guide confirmed that “people talk about God all of the time.” Faculty is asked to formally recommit to their Christian faith each year. Students are asked to commit to a “community of life” statement, which reflects Bible-based values but not Christianity per se. Respect for all religions is expected. For those at Westmont, the sense of community and feeling at home on campus is a major draw.
That said, seventy-five percent of students participate in study abroad -- the goal is to reach a ninety percent participation rate. The school prides itself on being open-minded and willing to discuss social issues such as same sex marriage or LGBT
On campus, the most popular areas of study are Biology, Economics/Business, Kinesiology, English, Psychology, and Elementary Education. Twenty-five to thirty students apply to med school each year with an 87%+ acceptance rate. The school is working with Pepperdine University on a program that would lead students to the Pepperdine MBA program. If you are interested in Engineering, a few students each year take advantage of the 3+2 program with USC or the University of Minnesota.
Westmont is one of thirteen similar colleges across the US in the Christian College Consortium that seeks a balance between faith and academics. They seem to be balancing successfully with a 73% 4-year graduation rate and, as is common with smaller liberal arts schools, a high percentage of students heading to graduate school (60-70% within three years).
Consider Westmont College if you are attracted to a small, tightly knit community, which is “intentionally Bible-based” without being dogmatic and if you are the type to take advantage of the nature, hiking, beach and weather of Santa Barbara.