By the Numbers: July 2006

The Ivy Jungle Network recently put out its monthly Campus Ministry Update for July. 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:

The Unexciting College Sex Life: Despite the images portrayed in movies, MTV and late night commercials for spring break DVD’s, at least one campus has discovered college students have far less sexual escapades than the students themselves think. In 2003, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln surveyed its students finding that 30% had not had sex at all in the previous year and nearly half had only had one partner in that time. Students were surprised by the results as most perceive their peers as more sexually active. The survey showed that more than 2/3 believed the average number of partners was greater than two, while in fact less than 25% had slept with multiple partners in the previous year. (Journal Star.com June 20, 2006)

MySpace Now Top Visited Website: The social networking site MySpace has now overtaken Yahoo’s email gateway as the most visited site on the internet. According to Hitwise, MySpace accounts for 4.46% of all US internet visits. Yahoo still attracted more unique visitors at 129 million a month (almost of the online population in the US), compared with only 52 million for MySpace. However, MySpace dominates the social networking category with more than 80% of the market share. Facebook.com, which is second, has only 7.6% – one tenth of the MySpace audience. (Reuters July 12, 2006)

College Students and Credit Cards: More than 50% of college students have at least one credit card billed to them. A study by the American Council on Education shows that 40% of those who have credit cards carry a balance from month to month, with a median balance of $1000. About a quarter have used their card to pay tuition. (AP July 18, 2006)

Women Achieving More on Campus: Not only are women a majority of the students on campus, but they make up a disproportional amount of students who earn their degrees on time – and who graduate with honors. At some schools nearly 80% of those finishing summa cum laude are women. The increased gender gap – in enrollment and achievement has caused some alarm on campus. Still, some point out that the income and racial gaps are larger and should receive greater attention before schools give preferential treatment to men. Currently for every 50 girls – 53 boys are enrolled in elementary school, 50 are enrolled in high school, 39 enroll in college, 37 earn a bachelor’s degree and only 31 will earn a master’s degree. (New York Times July 9, 2006 A1)

Teen Smoking Unchanged: 23% of high school students said they smoked this past year. That figure has remained consistent since 2003. Smoking rates peaked in 1997 at 36% and leveled off at 23% over the last 3 years. During that time money spent on tobacco ads and promotions has increased from $5.7 billion in ’97 to more than $15 billion in ’03. The CDC says the increased spending by cigarette manufacturers and a significant increase in smoking in movies has caused the stagnation in smoking levels despite higher prices, increased awareness of the hazards of smoking, and campaigns such as truth.com aimed to prevent teen smoking. Smoking in the movies has reached rates not seen since the 1950’s. (CNN.com July 6, 2006)

Popularity of Reality TV: In 2002, less than 7 hours of broadcast TV programming a week was devoted to reality shows. By 2004 that number had increased to well over 20 hours a week, with many more on the cable networks. According to a Harris Interactive Poll, the reality shows most watched by teens include Fear Factor (69%), American Idol (68%) and Survivor (43%). (Harris Interactive Trends and Tudes Volume 5 June 2006)

Dieting Among College Students: Over 80% of college women claim to diet, even though many are in the normal range of weight for women their age and height. Many said they exercise, skip meals, and smoke to lose weight. Nearly 6 in 10 said they felt pressure to be thinner (Touchstone July/August 2006 p. 57)

Record Numbers Apply to Teach for America: Some 19,000 college grads, many from elite schools and on their way to medical or graduate school, have applied to the two year Teach for America program that places college graduates in disadvantaged schools. Some critics of the program point to the fact that less than a third continue teaching after their two year commitment. However, the organizers of Teach for America say that their goals are both to meet an immediate need for teachers in these schools (many of which have poor teacher retention rates) and long term goals of seeing their teachers move on to positions of influence as civil and corporate leaders who will bring changes to education through voting and serving on local school boards later in life. (Chicago Tribune June 18, 2006 sec. 1 p. 7)

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