Two exams down, and I’ve finished college for the year. It’s been a worthwhile experience over all. I don’t think it’s for everyone: the sheer academia of it would be a turn-off to some people: not everyone wants to study at all, let alone study something that has very little chance of increasing your ability to earn money.
Unusually for bible college, I spent the whole year just looking at the bible: not church history, not theology, not ancient languages, but just the sweep of the old and new testaments. There were a few books that even after a year of part-time study that we didn’t get to (eg 1 and 2 Chronicles, Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, 2 Peter, Jude) for time reasons, but even they were alluded to in some ways, and I know the history and geography of bible times much better than I ever have before.
Has it helped my faith? This is an interesting question: as I looked into the bible a bit more deeply (reading commentaries, learning about the history of how people have understood the bible, looking at the different understandings from one denomination to the next), it’s been a bit of a journey.
Some of the time, all the extra information is wonderfully reassuring. At other times, though, reading all of the theories of those theologians who ended up giving up on Christianity – most notably Albert Schweitzer – made me ask some tough questions of what I’ve believed for so long now. After a period of questioning, I feel that I’ve arrived on the other side of it with a stronger understanding of my faith, but to have any sense of doubt mid-way through studying at college is quite disconcerting, to say the least!
Overall, I would recommend trying college to anyone who is curious enough about it to have not ruled it out as something that is "not for them". In a few months, I’ll be studying Ancient Greek – I’m looking forward to that more than anything else I’ve contemplated studying.