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Summit ranks high in affordability
October 21, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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The most affordable small private college in America is in Gering.

In a survey of institutions of higher learning across the country, AffordableColleges.com found Summit Christian College at the top of the list.

“It was a surprise to us when we got the news,” said college president David Parrish. “To even be ranked in the top 50 would have been a surprise. So, to be ranked No. 1 was a shock.”

Affordable Colleges conducted a comprehensive survey of all private and public colleges across the country and categorized them according to size. Parrish said they were pleased with the methodology used in the survey. One item that stood out was “value to the student,” which included teacher-student ratios and graduation and retention rates.

Summit received a score of 8.86 out of 10 among the top 50 private colleges in the country with enrollments under 2,000 students.
The Affordable Colleges survey cited Summit’s low tuition, low student debt, and its low student-to-faculty ratio that allows for a high success rate for student achievement.

Summit averages about 40 students during the academic year. It has the capacity to enroll 80 students at its Gering campus.

“Small colleges like ours offer a quality opportunity for students to interact with their professors,” Parrish said. “That interaction is less in larger colleges and it’s just not the same quality of learning experience.”

For people who want to continue their Christian education, but aren’t able to relocate, a solution is available.

Faculty and administration are currently developing and testing an online option called Summit Bridge to attract students from across the region who may not be able to relocate to Gering for college.
“Summit Bridge is currently in what’s called a ‘beta’ stage,” Parrish said. “We have about five students in the ministry field who are using the service. So far, reports have been very positive. They think this will be a top-notch program for us.”

Summit Bridge uses Zoom video streaming technology to deliver live classroom instruction at the college to students in other areas. The learning is also delivered at the same pace as in the classroom; so, remote students aren’t overwhelmed with intense learning.

“We went into this because there are so many people in ministry that have had little formal higher education,” Parrish said. “It’s difficult to both be in ministry and also pursue a college education, so we wanted to make that available.”

Summit Christian College, established in 1951 as Platte Valley Bible College in Scottsbluff, currently offers five areas of instruction: Bachelor of Arts in Bible; Bachelor of Science in Bible; Bachelor of Science in Ministries; Associate of Arts in Bible; and a Certificate in Christian Foundations.

Classes in both Old and New Testament survey, along with some Christian education classes are being offered. Those will be expanded when Summit Bridge is ready to launch.

“Part of the process is educating our professors on how to interact with students who aren’t in the classroom,” Parrish said. “It’s a new way of teaching.”

In a society where debt doesn’t seem to matter, Summit is assuring its graduates they’ll be debt-free and ready for wherever the future leads them. “If students are here all four years, they will have spent at least $40,000 less than at any comparable college,” Parrish said. “We are very focused on the type of degrees we offer in order to meet the needs of the students we are attracting.”
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