National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

College Students More Likely to Shun Secularism

Facts of Life

BY The Editors

March 16-22, 2008 Issue | Posted 3/11/08 at 2:20 PM


Here’s a shocker: Higher education gets a bum rap as one of the most strongly secularizing forces in our society. In fact, young adults who go to college are more likely to hold onto their religious faith than their peers whose education ends with a high-school diploma. The finding, published last year by a sociology professor and a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, was based on data culled from 15,000 individuals across the country who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The study report doesn’t say that adolescents are finding God on campus en masse — just that college students report a substantially smaller falloff in religious-service attendance than their less-educated peers (59% vs. 76%). Asked by the school newspaper The Daily Texan to explain the counter-intuitive finding, the study authors said the structure of college life “reinforces and provides for a more religion-friendly environment. Through student organizations and various network associations, college students live in an atmosphere that allows them to maintain their religious beliefs.” Chances are that the faith and formation the faithful kids had at home before matriculating figure in there somewhere, too.

Illustration by Kevin Bedan