I was a member of a conservative Baptist church in my late teenage years. (As a reminder, I had become a Christian when I was sixteen, and between then and my departure for college, had been involved with two churches. This was the second.) It was Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and it had a reputation in the community. I'm not certain what that reputation was or is, but I did know that if I mentioned attending Rose Hill, people knew what I was talking about. But that's beside the point. They ran a Christian school which was pretty infamous, but I thought the church was alright. I was only really connected to the youth ministry anyway, and this only for my last year and a half before college.
I remember when it became known that I was considering attending Georgetown College. Georgetown was (at that time) one of three college's supported by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the others being Cumberland and Campbellsville. The former was the one with "the best reputation for serving the Lord," and the latter was pretty good too, but Georgetown was considered more than a little out to lunch: it was liberal. That made no sense to me, and I'm not certain that it does now. No one who derided my prospective choice could tell me anything they knew about Georgetown, or any terrible stories or anecdotes of unfaithfulness, they merely insisted on calling it Liberal. And that ought to have been damning enough, they seemed to think.
So here's the thing. In that particular microculture, it was normal for folks not to go to college. What was especially worrisome (even then) was that it was most common for the graduates of the Christian school to attend Ashland Community College - likely not a private college or a public university. It was perfectly acceptable to attend ACC. Now if someone wanted to leave home and attend a university, there were two Best Options. For those seeking to Serve God in a religious profession ( e.g. missionary, preacher, Christian school teacher, youth pastor) the best possible option was Liberty University, the school founded by a preacher named Falwell in Lynchburg, VA. This was usually recommended in a slightly tongue-in-cheek fashion, phrased like, "When you decide to get right with God and go to Liberty..." or "When are you going to get your life straightened out and to go Liberty?" I was never really certain how much was serious, and how much was teasing. Since I was going to be a preacher (I am not making this up), for some folks my matriculation at this institution ought to have been a foregone conclusion.
My best friend at the time was determined to attend Liberty, and I actually completed an application. I didn't quite bring myself to submit it however. My high school teachers thought the idea was nuts, and I didn't have enough church mentors to turn the tide on that one. Mind you, I was also thinking at the time that a "Christian college" might not offer the best possible education and formation anyway - I'm just saying I could have been pushed.
Now the other Best Option was to attend the University of Kentucky. Because they have a popular basketball team. The fact that it was a secular school didn't matter; it was UK. It was UK, and that's what mattered.
I have never understood that.
My best friend did go to Liberty. We've not seen each other much since then. I visited him in Virginia once. He was giving me a tour of campus, and an RA stopped us because I was wearing shorts in a classroom building (after hours). He asked if I was a visitor, so I presented the paperwork to prove it: the Student Life office kept the white copy of the approval of my weekend visit to the campus, while I was left with the yellow copy to keep and the pink one to give to my friend's RA. I am not making this up.
He said he didn't need to see the paperwork, as I clearly wasn't a Liberty student.
Update: Lots more anecdotes in the comments section...