In a Metro Area? You're in a College Town.

posted Feb 25, 2014, 8:20 PM by Ginger Bowman
"Our church isn't in a "college town." Oh, really?  The truth is that if your church is in any one of the metro areas of Texas, you're in a college town.  Sure, you may not have the "Bear Nation" banners posted around town, and College Game Day might not visit your city in the fall.  But, if by "college town" you mean a town or city with a large of college student population, your church may very well be in a college town.  Here's a bit of perspective.  
   
Houston is home to two of the largest community college districts in the U.S.  Both the Lone Star and Houston Districts had enrollments of around 70,000 students total.*  Add to those numbers 31,000 plus at the University of Houston, and the students at Rice, Houston Baptist, Texas Southern, and several others, including students in the Medical schools and you have roughly 200,000 college students in the Houston area.  At that, Houston seems over qualified for the designation, "college town." 
  
San Antonio's student population continues to grow.  This last year, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UTSA had an enrollment of 30,474 and the Alamo Community College District had an enrollment of 58,857.*  And there are many other colleges in San Antonio, like San Antonio College, St. Mary's and the rapidly growing Texas A&M San Antonio campus.  San Antonio is definitely a college town.  

Dallas alone, (community colleges and other area Universities) has a student enrollment close to 100,000, and when the Collin Community Colleges are added, the total is close to 130,000.  Add in 44,000 plus in Tarrant County Community Colleges, and 24,500 students at UT Arlington and a few other campuses in Tarrant County and the Dallas Fort Worth area has a student population of close to 200,000.*  
   
But wait, there's more.  Beyond these metropolitan areas, from the El Paso to Austin to Kingsville, there are large numbers college students. Many of whom are living at home and attending school nearby. We would expect the churches in traditional "college towns" to reach out to college students.  Why is it any different in these cities?      There are quite a few very traditional campuses in the metro areas of our state, but the campus culture seems to get swallowed up by the massiveness of the city itself. As a result, many of these campuses go unnoticed and are underserved by the local church.  Everyone assumes that someone else will minister to that campus. 
    The student lifestyle in many of these communities is different.  Commuter students aren't usually hanging out on campus in the evenings. They may be working in your favorite restaurant or coffee shop.  It might take a little more work to find them, but they are there.  And they are still college students who need the church.  They need someone to share the Gospel with them, to disciple them, to invest in them.  And if you're serving in college ministry in one of these cities, know that the work you are doing is significant.  It might even be considered pioneer work on the new frontier of college ministry.    

*All statistical information taken from the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board Enrollment Data http://www.txhighereddata.org.  
Rankings taken from the National Center for Education Statistics at http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=74
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