Depression on the Rise and Religion on the Decline in College Freshmen
According to survey results, college freshmen are leaning away from religion.
Every year, the American Freshman is done, a survey that is conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program of UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institutional. It started in 1985, and has continued as a solid annual survey. It collects a variety of information, including the student’s use of alcohol, religious views, desire for higher degrees and their emotional well-being.
2014 Survey Results: Religion Waning
In 2014, researchers asked 153,000 full time freshmen at 227 public and private colleges. The results were shocking, with many more freshmen feeling depressed than ever before in the past 30 years. There was a clear relation between religion and emotional well-being, with a jump in depression and a fall in those who identify with a religious group.
A little over half, 50.7%, felt that their emotional health was above average in relation to their fellow students. However, this is a clear 2.3% decline from the 2013 class, and is the lowest percentage since the start of the survey. The director, Kevin Eagan, suggests that it may be a sign of “self-awareness” or an increase of students feeling overwhelmed.
Survey says an increasing number of college freshmen are distancing themselves from religion. How can we change this? http://t.co/sSsgmF67L3
— United Church of Christ (@UnitedChurch) February 17, 2015
In 1973, very few students selected ‘none’ when asked about their parent’s religious preferences. A total of 3.1% for mothers, and 6.4% for their fathers. Last year, 2014, the number rose to 19% for paternal and 13.8% for maternal religion. Even in Catholic colleges, the number of students who don’t identify with a religion jumped to 14.9% from 1.6% in 2004. It is the same at other religious schools, doubling from 9.3% to 17.4% over a period of 10 years.
Many feel this is proof of religion’s waning grasp in the United States, and could signal that students feel there is a large difference between religion and spirituality.