Send your children to college or they might lose the faith

Parents have long worried about what goes on at college. Catholic parents, in particular, worry that their children will fall away from the faith, with peers pressuring them into abandoning religious practices and liberal professors swaying them from their religious beliefs. Concerned parents might go as far as keeping their children away from college for fear of its negative side effects. At least, that is the narrative that has been circulating since the 1960s, but the data demonstrates the complete opposite.

While young adults experience a decline in religious activity, education plays a positive role in retaining religiosity. In the 2007 study Losing My Religion: The Social Sources of Religious Decline in Early Adulthood, the results show that the group most likely to experience a decline in church attendance was those who did not attend college (76%) and the group least likely to experience a decline was those who earned at least a bachelor’s degree (59%).

(Table from Uecker, J.; Regnerus, M. D.; & Vaaler, M. (2007). Losing my religion: The Social Sources of Religious Decline in Early Adulthood. Social Forces, 85(4), 1667-1692.)

The shocking evidence flies in the face of standard assumptions. Several oth