By the Numbers: May 2006

The Ivy Jungle Network recently put out its monthly Campus Ministry Update for May. You can read the whole thing here. It is excellent this month. Here are some interesting statistics from this month’s trends in the spiritual and social lives of college students:

More than Just Advice – Many student papers now have sex advice columns, yet a few schools, including Yale, Harvard, Boston College, and the University of Chicago have taken it a bit farther with student published erotic magazines with full pictorial spreads. Most receive student activities funding (though not necessarily approval from the administration) and utilize student writers and models. The contributors, as well as professors and experts in human sexuality, see the magazines as the outgrowth of a generation that has grown up in a sex saturated media culture. In addition, they point out that feminism has changed so that some now see pornography as expression and not exploitation. Many say the approach of women toward things sexually explicit has changed the most dramatically in the last 15 years. In fact half of the sex magazine founders and editors are women. (NY Times Education Life April 23, 2006 p. 30-31)

Nomadic Transcripts: An increasing number of college students are attending more than one school on their way to an undergraduate degree. A survey of those who graduated in the 1999-2000 school year showed a majority (59%) had more than one institution on their transcripts. Among older students, this is by for the norm. For those who began college between the ages of 24-29, 89% had attended more than one school, with a third having attended three or more schools. Even among those who begin at 18, 20% had attended three or more schools. 9% of students say they have attended more than one college at the same time, mostly to accommodate class schedules and needs. (NY Times Education Life April 23, 2006 p. 24ff)

Mainline Decline: The Episcopal church saw a drop of nearly 4% in its average Sunday attendance from 2003 to 2004. This came despite a nearly 10% increase in population in most parishes. The church noted that many other mainline denominations have faced a similar shift. (Touchstone April 2006 p. 52)

Church Attendance: A report from the Gallup poll shows that those identifying themselves as Catholics (45%), Methodists (44%), Presbyterians (44%), Lutherans (43%) and Episcopalians (32%) all attend church less than 50% of the time. Church of Christ led the way with 68% attending every week, followed by Mormons, Pentecostals (65%), Southern Baptists (60%) and non-denominational protestants (54%). (Leadership Network Advance May 2006)

Global Missions: According to a report in the March issue of Christianity Today, the number of cross-cultural missionaries from non-western countries in 1973 was about 3,500. That number is now about 103,000. Canadian and US missionaries represent about 112,000 worldwide. (Touchstone April 2006 p. 52)

Church Attendance around the Country: Research confirms that there is a reason the South is known as the Bible belt. People in the Southeast attend church more regularly. While 31% of the nation claims they attend services once a week – and a further 11% say they attend almost every week (for a total of 42% in very regular attendance), 50% or more attend with such regularity in states such as Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma. Nebraska and Utah also boast very high attendance rates. In contrast the Northeast has the lowest attendance rates with Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire all at the very bottom of the list for regular attendance. Nevada, California, Washington and Oregon also had very low attendance rates. (Gallup Poll News Service April 27, 2006)

The High Cost of a College Loan: Nearly 2/3 of college students now use loans to finance their education, up from 46% in 1990. The class of 2004 graduated with an average loan debt of $15,622 for the public school students and $22,581 for those who went to private schools. A 2006 graduate with a consolidated debt of $40,000, they will owe a payment of $243 a month until they are 52. As they begin eyeing their senior discounts, they will have paid over $47,000 in interest alone on that loan. (CNNMoney.com May 2, 2006)

Porn Sites Attract Younger Viewers: Currently there are 4.2 million sites, and over 372 million pages of pornography on the internet. Every day 68 million internet searches find them. The average age of first exposure to pornography is now 11. 80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple exposures to hard core porn and 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed it online. 12-17 year olds are now the largest consumers of online pornography. (Leadership Network Advance May 2006 citing CP80 Foundation Internet Channel Initiative)

Most College Women Diet: A recent study has shown that 83% of college women diet, regardless of their current weight. Often, their methods – such as skipping meals or smoking, are unhealthy in and of themselves. 80% said they used exercise as a means to control weight – even if the amount was not enough to be successful. 44% of the 185 college age women reported consciously eating less to lose weight, even though their own weights were very much in the “normal” range. 58% said they felt pressure to be a certain weight – a pressure that came from themselves, friends, and the media. (Health Day News March 31, 2006)

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