Thursday, July 30, 2009

Religion and college majors

A study recently came out that looks at the role of religion in university students education choices. I haven't read the article yet, but here are some of the findings as summarized here.

  • The odds of going to college increase for high school students who attend religious services more frequently or who view religion as more important in their lives. The researchers speculate that there may be a "nagging theory" in which fellow churchgoers encourage the students to attend college.
  • Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity -- measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences.
  • Students in education and business show an increase in religiosity over their time at college.
  • Majoring in the biological or physical sciences does not affect religious attendance of students, but majoring in the physical sciences does negatively relate to the way students view the importance of religion in their lives.
  • Religious attendance is positively associated with staying in majors in the social sciences, biological sciences and business majors. For most vocational majors, the researchers found a negative relationship between religious attendance and staying in the same major. The researchers compare this finding to their data about how students who attend services are more likely to enroll in college in the first place: "In both cases, religious attendance encourages a shift toward a higher status path."
I suppose that the take home message for Christian parents is: "Momma don't let your babies grow up to study sociology."

Actually, I wonder about the cause and effect of this. Do students who question their religion gravitate toward the social sciences or does taking classes in the social sciences make students question their religion.

I would assume that GenEd requirements have all students take some social science courses, so the majors just take maybe six to eight more of them.

What do you think?

Thanks Patti!


Gruntled said...

In my experience, it is religion classes that make students question their religion.

Brad Wright said...

You're probably right...

livs said...

while it was my religion classes that had me question certain aspects of my faith it was/is currently my sociology courses that cause me to question the "bigger picture" ideas/concepts that pertain to life and religion, at large.

interesting things to think about, for sure :)