Can I Go To a Religious College If It’s Not My Religion?
If you haven’t recognized yet by the name, the school I attend, Sacred Heart University is a Catholic private university.
I transferred to Sacred Heart because it was a reputable school that I could commute to. It was not until after I applied and got in that I really realized, “Oh no, this is a Catholic University and I’m not Catholic.”
I was nervous that being a student there would require me to attend mass on campus or read the bible for every class assignment. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable or uninformed in a place that I would spend the majority of the next three years.
When I pulled into the campus the summer before my first semester, a giant crucifix met me by the main entrance, and I found out that the new million-dollar construction happening in the middle of the campus was going to be a monstrous chapel. Needless to say I felt like in order to not be out casted by the community, I should probably take off the Buddah necklace I was wearing (no, I am not a Buddhist either.)
When I met with my advisor to build my first semester course schedule, dread overtook me when I learned of the 15 mandatory religion credits I was required to fulfill. I figured that I better practice nodding and smiling at the mention of God if I didn’t want a failing grade from my professors.
However, on the first day of my Intro to Religion class I was greatly surprised to find out my professor was Jewish. Jewish? How can she teach religion at a Catholic University and be Jewish? It turns out that just because a university is affiliated with a religion that doesn’t mean they shove it down your throat. In fact, my Intro to Religion class explored five different religions equally over the course of the semester, and never was one presented as better than the others.
As my time at Sacred Heart went on I was gladly surprised that I was never attacked or made to feel uncomfortable about my personal religious stance. In one of writing classes, religion was brought up and I made a comment about having a different religion. My professor and classmates were greatly interested in my viewpoints. In fact this happened in many of my classes, and my professors always made it a priority to point out that a student’s religious beliefs would never affect their grades.
It turned out to be a promise well kept. In fact some of my most interesting classes were “religion courses.” I put them in quotations because some of my religious credits came in unexpected places like the courses, Women in Religion, God in Rock Music, and Problems in Religious Philosophy. All these courses allowed me to explore numerous viewpoints on religions around the world and in society and come to my own conclusions.
In the three years that I attended Sacred Heart University I was never required to attend a Catholic ceremony, keep quiet about my own religious views, or read any religious material for the purpose of convincing me of anything different than what I believed.
So, in short, you shouldn’t be turned off by a school because of its religion. In fact, whether you are at a religion affiliated university or not, I encourage you to take religion courses at some point in your schooling. Not only are they educational and interesting, but also they may open you up to worldly matters that you may never have known about or understood.