By the Numbers: June 2006

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

Short, Fast, Crude, Tiny: These are four of the words that describe an MTV objective for developing content for programming designed for cell phones and video iPods targeted at the 15-24 year old male. The pop culture juggernaut, which takes in well over a billion dollars in ad revenue, is investing heavily in what many see as the next direction of TV. One model predicts that the world wide market for “mobile TV” will be $27 billion by 2010. With similar programming overseas, MTV is already the world’s largest mobile content provider and hopes to lead the way in the US market as well. So far pilots seem to follow in the “Beavis and Butthead” and “Jackass” models for capturing the short, crude attention spans of its teenage male demographic. (New York Times Magazine, May 28, 2006 pp. 46-49)

Women Gaining, Men Holding Steady: Federal statistics released this month show that despite the income gap, women continue to make gains in all areas of education while men have stagnated. Women have long led the way in fields such as education and psychology, but they now earn the majority of degrees in business, biological sciences, social sciences, and history. They have made steady gains in math, physical sciences and agriculture. In addition they now account for half of those enrolled in professional programs in law, medicine and optometry (up from 22% a generation ago). Women now outnumber men on campus across the country by more than 2 million – and that gap increases every year. (AP June 2, 2006)

High Tech Cheating: Many professors are bringing back the blue book exam as technology has made it easier for students to cheat. From camera phones to iPods to wireless internet access, professors say they are amazed at the evolution of the “cheat sheet.” Schools have taken a variety of steps to counter the cheating from collecting cell phones before exams, to prohibiting the use of laptops (which means a tougher time grading the messy handwriting of students raised in a digital age). A survey of 62,000 students on 96 campuses conducted by the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University showed nearly 2/3 of all students said they had cheated. Most justify their actions by the pressure to get the grades to make it to the next level. While professors strive to keep up with the next technological breakthrough for cheating, many are pointing to honor codes and personal integrity as the real solution to the problem. (New York Times May 18, 2006 p.1)

Holiness In America: According to George Barna, one in five Americans consider themselves “holy.” But few have little idea of what that means. 21% say they have no idea what holiness is; 19% say it means to be “Christ-like”; 18% say it means making religion your top priority. (Touchstone May 2006)

Inked: Thirty-six percent of Americans ages 18-29 have at least one tattoo. A survey by the American Academy of Dermatology says that almost a quarter (24%) of US residents between 18 and 50 have a tattoo. In 2003, that number was closer to 15%. Nearly two-thirds of those who get tattoos do so before they turn 24. The survey also showed that those with tattoos are more likely to drink, do drugs, have spent time in jail, or forego religion. 17% of those who have a tattoo have considered having it removed. (AP June 10, 2006)

Online Gambling: Online gambling represents a $6 billion dollar a year business, with poker leading the way in the growing industry. An estimated 1.6 million (almost 10%) of US college students say they gambled online in the past year, almost all played poker. A University of Connecticut study found that nearly 25% of those who gambled online fit the clinical definition of a pathological gambler, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of college students may have an online gambling problem. Unlike live gambling, the internet has meant that students can play 24 hours a day from their dorm rooms, the library, even during class with a wireless connection. Problem gambling used to take years to wreck someone’s life. Now, that process can happen in only a couple of semesters. Most colleges say that they do not have a gambling problem on campus (internet companies even sponsor school sanctioned live events), but the statistics are becoming increasingly troubling. (New York Times Magazine June 11, 2006 pp. 52-58)

Evangelical Schools on the Rise: Applications to Evangelical colleges have increased by up to 10% again since last year. This continues a trend that has been noted in several studies and was the subject of the book, God on the Quad by Naomi Schafer Riley (purchase her CD from the Ivy Jungle Conference in 2005 at www.soundword.com). Many religious students are seeking schools where their faith can remain a significant part of their studies. Census data indicates some 300,000 – 400,000 evangelical students will graduate from high school each year through 2009. (Touchstone May 2006 p. 49)

Soaring Debt: Nearly 2/3 of college graduates have student loan debt upon the completion of their studies. The average note is now $19,000, most of it owed to the government. A study of 12 states showed that New York had the highest debt load at over $20k. Oregon and Minnesota had the highest percentage of students in debt with more than three-quarters having taken out loans. Private lending for student loans has increased from $1.3 billion in 1993-1994 to $10.6 billion in 2003-2004. Federal loans will cost even more this year as interest rates rise on July 1. (AP May 31, 2006)

Taking Relationships Too Seriously: Young people are getting married later, and some (not just their mothers) are concerned that more don’t even seem to be looking. Among emerging adults (ages 18-29), only 38% report that they are currently in “committed relationships.” Another nearly 40% say they are not even looking for one. Most say they are focused on school, jobs, getting out of debt, and establishing themselves and simply don’t have time or energy for a serious relationship. In addition, many have witnessed their parents’ marriages end in divorce and fear that kind of pain. Meanwhile, many settle for low commitment sexual “hook-ups” finding it much easier than traditional dating or courtship. (Touchstone May 2006).

Sexual Activity and Depression: According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, girls who become sexually active before the age of 16 experience “significantly more symptoms” of depression, were more pessimistic about their futures and did poorly in school than their “sexually nave” peers. (Touchstone May 2006 p. 47)

Getting Into College in China: If you think the SAT is tough, be glad you don’t live in China. Earlier this month nearly 10 million Chinese young people took their nation’s college entrance exam. Only 25% will get in. Last year more than 1700 students were disciplined for cheating on the exam. This year the government will scramble phone signals in exam halls and have extra police monitoring the tests in order to prevent cheating. (AP June 2, 2006)

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