Are you a college student in possession of a certain set of religious or spiritual beliefs? According to recent studies, such students are becoming increasingly rare. Indeed, secular student organizations on campuses are rising. Meanwhile, students are also becoming less religious as college progresses. So, does college make a student “lose their religion?” Read on.
Stepping into all the craziness and freedom of college can make it so hard to keep or find religion. I know, because I’m there. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior just before I started college 2 years ago. Entering my third year of college, I understand that it can be hard to live as both a Christian and a college student.
Truth: College students party. They get drunk. They have sex. They miss church.
How do you make it to church every Sunday morning when you have no one waking you up? How do you read the Bible every night when sleep is already at a minimum? How do you keep your values when many around you are so bold about forcing theirs on you? How do you not have casual sex when everyone around you seems to be doing it? I mean, you’re supposed to wait until marriage, but then again society keeps pushing the accepted age for marriage back; so no sex until 26 or 27? No rebellious college experience, period? Yikes.
Religion even seems to conflict at times with what we’re learning. For example, a dichotomy exists between science and religion. Traditionally, there is an “either/or” relationship between the two, claiming that to believe in one is to discount the other. Yet, there are many scientists and followers of religion that have built bridges and blazed paths between the two and have shown that you can “believe” in both (check out the Anthropic Principle for a great example of how some see religion in science).
Truth: Not all students get drunk, have sex, miss church, or stop being religious.
Although college and religion may seem to stand on opposite sides of a spectrum of faith, they don’t need to. The two, like science and religion, can (and are!) reconciled. There are many college students that take an active role in both the church and college life. The studies and statistics that say that college and religion are incompatible don’t have to be the norm.
Moreover, the students that “believe” in both aren’t perfect, and you shouldn’t let mistakes you make or struggles you have deter you from continuing to be religious in college. The thing is, I have come to really understand that part of being Christian is knowing that only one person has ever been perfect. As for the rest of us, it’s in our nature to make mistakes, fall short, and be tempted.
So, here’s how I think college students can keep their religion, and even grow in it: try. Just keep trying. Try to live with a mind towards your beliefs, making a conscious effort to do small things like pray, read the Bible, or make it to church. College doesn’t need to be a time when students choose the “experience” over religion. Make an effort, and trust in whom you pray to.
And, if you make mistakes, don’t give up. It is so easy to distance yourself from religion subconsciously, which is why trying, even in small doses, really does go such a long way. If you want to do something more, join a religious organization on your campus. Many colleges have a huge variety of ways to connect to others that share your same beliefs, and you will be surprised at how many people believe the same things you do!
In all, your “college experience” will be what you want it to be. If you really don’t want to stray from your religion and make an effort not to, you won’t. Yes, there are temptations. Yes, it’s hard- but definitely not impossible. So much hope, inspiration, and change comes from college students, and I know of more than a few instances in which a students’ faith has grown during their time in college.