I have had the enormous privilege of attending two Bible Colleges in my, admittedly, short life. So far.
I went straight from school, at 18, to the Irish Baptist College to study for a Bachelor of Theology and I have just finished my first year at Union Theological College where I’m working towards a Master of Theology in Missiology.
I enjoy studying theology at an academic level (in my own unusual way) and both levels have stretched me spiritually and intellectually in different ways. It would be no good trying to compare the two. Studying as a postgraduate is vastly different from studying as an undergraduate because as a postgraduate you choose what you study whereas undergraduates have little choice (some, but not a lot).
I really enjoyed the structure of my Bachelor of Theology, it was all course work assessed so there was never HUGE exam pressure just a lot of manageable essay deadline stress. My Master of Theology course is very similar: all course work assessed, three essays per module, four modules, and a 20,000 word dissertation. I get to choose my own questions for all essays and my dissertation so it’s quite specialised but allows me to research the things I’m interested in. Also, having a supervisor is amazing, they’re super helpful!
Perhaps academic study isn’t your cup of tea but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo any kind of theological education. Both the Irish Baptist College and Union Theological College offer Christian Education Courses which I would encourage you to think about and pursue. If you have the time and money it would be a valuable investment that will be sure to pay for itself in terms of spiritual and intellectual growth.
But if academic study does appeal to you then contact the Colleges and get some more info. You can even contact me if you think I could be of any help. We need more Christian academics who can engage charitably and critically at the highest levels, so if you think God has gifted you in this way pursue it!