Church-going teens go further with school, study finds

Nov 01, 2012

For many American teens, the road to college goes through the chapel.

Sociologists from Brigham Young University and Rice University found religiously-affiliated youth are 40 percent more likely to graduate than their unaffiliated peers and 70 percent more likely to enroll in college.

The researchers note that teens' fellow church-goers are an important factor, serving as mentors who help teens set their sights high.

"Youth have a unique chance to form relationships with peers and mentors outside of their classroom at school or their neighborhood at home," said Lance Erickson, the lead study author and a sociologist at BYU. "Mentors especially care for, counsel with and encourage youth throughout their growing years in a way that teachers and parents might not be able to."

Erickson and co-author James Phillips of Rice University studied data from more than 8,379 teens across the country. Some of their findings zeroed in on by :

  • Catholic teens, mainline Protestants and black Protestant congregations are twice as likely as unaffiliated to finish high school and about 80 percent more likely to enroll in college.
  • Jewish and Mormon youths have the highest odds of graduating high school and .
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long emphasized to youth the importance of higher education as a means of seeking truth and becoming self-reliant. And according to data gathered by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, that message gets through to Latter-day Saint youth. The recent Pew data shows about one-third of LDS adults reared in the faith have graduated from college and another third have completed at least some college. By comparison, national data shows that 28 percent of Americans age 25 and above hold college degrees and 21 percent have completed some college.

And across all faiths, Erickson's new study found that measures of religious participation and spirituality are positively associated with higher educational attainment. Church attendance, for example, was especially predictive of high school graduation, while prayer was more influential for college enrollment.

Interestingly, Erickson and Phillips found mentors with a religious background have essentially the same effect as educators who mentor students.

"Having a non-parent, adult figure who provides positive behavioral encouragement and that a teenager feels comfortable approaching is huge," Phillips said. "Here we see just how far-reaching those religious mentorships are, even to the point of influencing enrollment as effectively as mentors who are strictly from educational settings, such as teachers or coaches."

The new study appears in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Explore further: Change 'authoritarian' football culture to produce future stars, says research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teens maintain their religion

Jun 20, 2011

High school is a turbulent time for adolescents. Every parent knows these are the years when teens begin to spread their wings, develop their own self-awareness and confirm their identification with specific social groups ...

Recommended for you

Residents of 'boom time' suburbs face unsustainable commutes

3 hours ago

People living in the 'boom time' suburbs of Dublin are more likely to endure unsustainable commutes to work than those living in older accommodation. Research shows that people living in newly constructed housing in the Greater ...

Male-biased tweeting

23 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

Apr 23, 2014

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

defactoseven
3.3 / 5 (7) Nov 02, 2012
Provided by Brigham Young University

Says it all.... says nothing.
VendicarD
3.3 / 5 (7) Nov 02, 2012
Given that unwed pregnancy rates are also higher among church going teens, it would appear that they go further than other teens in a variety of ways.
chromosome2
5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2012
This just in, Mormon University finds that Mormon and Jewish youth have the highest chances of graduating high school, going to college, and not burning in hell, and that religious mentors are drop-in replacements for educational ones! The ongoing scientifically rigorous study of the efficacy of magic underwear is also showing very promising results indeed.
VendicarD
4 / 5 (4) Nov 03, 2012
Romney is a Mormon.

That means that Conservative Americans - Roughly half of all Americans - are going to vote for a man who worships Magic Underwear.

You Can't get dumber than Republican Dumb.

obama_socks
1 / 5 (2) Nov 03, 2012
Nope...no magic underwear. Mormon women are expected to wear an undergarment that I believe is like panties, only bulkier. However, I'm not sure of the significance of that article of clothing and what it has to do with the religion. Men of the Mormon faith are not required to wear special articles of clothing...and your lie that Romney worships such things is downright stupid. Shame on you and your lies.

You can't get dumber than VendicarD Dumb.

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...