Being away from home with newfound freedom creates the perfect mixture of circumstances for college students who want to place their religion on the back burner.
For many, the college lifestyle involves partying while mixing their obligations to education. As a result, college students are minimally, if ever, focused on their religion.
“College is like a whole other world,” said DeKierra Barber, a senior pre-physical therapy student from Tampa, who believes she is not 100 percent religious.
“You have the parties, Greek life and extracurricular activities,” said Barber. “Religion just ends up going down on students’ priority list. I think that students get sucked into the college lifestyle.”
Students leave their parents’ household and are no longer bound by the rules that governed them.
Pastor Dave Hess from Every Nation Tallahassee, who is also a campus pastor at Florida A&M University, said, “I think a lot of people never really believed the teachings of their so-called religion in the first place. When they got to college, away from the supervision of their parents, they begin to live out what they had really believed and what they really wanted to do all along.”
Hess continued, “Some people actually become more serious about their beliefs during college. This was my experience when I was a student. I was close to walking away from my Christian faith, but when I began to study it more seriously I became a convinced believer.”
Students may turn from religion because the teachings of scripture may conflict or may not condone the activities students engage in. A lot of students feel they will be looked down upon by the church.
Darnica Hookfin, a third year history student from Cleveland, who is also the vice-president of Every Nation Tallahassee campus ministries, said, “If your faith wasn’t well-grounded, it was easily shaken.”
Hoofkin believes higher education is moving students away from religion.
“When people get to college, they forget the values that their parents instilled in them,” she said.
Asonya Tomlinson, a freshman nursing student from Miami, thinks people may be frustrated with how religious practices affect society.
“There are a lot of homosexuals in the world, and religious acts hold up reasons why they can’t get married and get judged differently than everyone else.”
There is really no correct answer when asked if religion is really getting left behind in college. Every college is different, as is every student. Making time to find a campus ministry and getting involved is always a good option for those who want to continue their faith after starting college.
Sometimes just making that connection will be the difference between spiritual isolation and the development of a faith-filled home away from home.