Colleges with strong religious presences: how do non-believers fare?

<p>My top choice college has a lot of people who are religious. About 30% of the people who attend are Jewish, and about 30% are Catholic. Another 25% are Protestant. (Statistics for any other religions are unknown to me right now.) All together, that's almost 90% of the student body that consider themselves a religion.</p>

<p>I'm not religious at all. I am technically Catholic, but I don't believe in the religion, and I don't like when people push their beliefs on me. I am, however, accepting of people's views if they should happen to believe in some sort of God. It doesn't matter one way or another.
My only issue is, if I attend a college with an overwhelming majority of students being religious, I don't know if I'll feel like I belong. </p>

<p>I've visited the school three times: once for an open house, once for an interview/info session, and once for an audition. I love it for reasons that are hard to explain in words.</p>

<p>Anyway, I love everything about the school BUT the fact that I feel like I don't belong at a school with 90%+ of people believing in a religion.</p>

<p>This question goes out to people attending schools that are generally religious:
-If you aren't religious, have you felt like an outcast at any point in your college career?</p>

<p>-If you are religious, do you know people who aren't/are you friendly with them/do you think down upon them for not believing in something/etc.?</p>

<p>-Both: Do you feel that people who aren't religious who attend generally religious schools are treated any differently than those who are religious?</p>

<p>My main issue is this: I have to decide whether or not I want to do Early Decision for this school, FAST!! At first, after my visits, I was completely set on doing it, but then the question of religions came into my head. It's the only thing holding me back from doing ED, so I need some advice!</p>

<p>Thanks so much!</p>

<p>(I'm not going to name the college, because I don't want people who go to the college coming and giving me dishonest answers just to make it sound good. I want honesty.)
(Also, I'm sure some of you are itching to ask me about financial aid; I'm sure others are itching to suggest schools to me. I appreciate the thought, but I would prefer if you'd just answer the question at hand without discussing financial aid/other college choices. I've figured it all out.)</p>

<p>I don’t think you’ll have anything to be worried about. Most colleges that are really “religious” are affiliated with one particular faith, so you don’t see the kind of religious diversity that this college has. For many people, identifying as Jewish, Catholic, or whatever is more a matter of culture than it is about being extremely religious. A student who answers “Protestant” on a religious survey might have gone to church once a year growing up, or might have a religious upbringing but not be very religious themselves.</p>

<p>A better way to determine how religious a campus is would be to look at other information. Does the school have a religious affiliation? Even if it does, it might not be particularly religious; some colleges have a religious affiliation due to tradition that has little to no effect on academics or student life. However, others take their religious affiliation very seriously, even going so far as to require attendance at religious services and enforcing a strict honor code based on religion.</p>

<p>For comparison, check out the likes of Brigham Young University, Bob Jones University, and Liberty University. These schools are VERY religious and their websites and admissions materials will emphasize this fact. You could also see how active religious groups are on campus (see how many people like the group’s facebook page), or call up the college’s chaplain, if there is one, and ask about religious life on campus. Public universities in very religious states are also more likely to be religious.</p>

<p>I think you have nothing to worry about. Most very, very religious students tend to gravitate toward students of the same religion, so many truly religious schools will have upwards of 90% of students identifying with the same denomination. A nearly equal number of Protestants, Catholics and Jews signals a pretty non-religious school.</p>

<p>How are you basing your assumption that the students are religious? Is that how the school portrays itself? Is that what students say about the college? Did you visit the campus and talk to students. Or are you just looking at the statistics showing what people put down on their applications? Because if it is the latter, that isn’t meaningful. On an application most kids will select the religion they were raised with, regardless of how active they are in that religion. It doesn’t mean they are religious.
There are some schools where the faith of the students is very important to the school culture, as mentioned above. But they are a small percentage of schools. And it is obvious from their websites that faith is integral to their campus life. So you should be able to tell.</p>



<p>I agree with the others and doubt you will have a problem.</p>

<p>* Or are you just looking at the statistics showing what people put down on their applications? Because if it is the latter, that isn’t meaningful. On an application most kids will select the religion they were raised with, regardless of how active they are in that religion. It doesn’t mean they are religious. *
Is this a fact, or is it just some sort of assumption?
I know on my application, I’m not putting down “Catholic”, even though I technically am. I’m not sure what other kids like me do, though.</p>

<p>It’s a good assumption, kittycatwindow. Anyway, the majority of people at a place with that kind of balance aren’t going to be “pushing their religion onto you.” You’re not describing a campus with a strong and monolithic religious culture. For most of these students, I’m willing to bet it’s just what they were raised with, not a defining characteristic, and their participation in religion is services a few times a year for holidays, Passover dinner, Easter baskets, etc.</p>



<p>With all due respect, you need a reality check. While the numbers are hard to come-by, Americans who do not believe in anything hereafter are in the 10-15% range (source = wiki). That means that ~85% believing in something beyond the here and now.</p>

<p>Given those numbers, how do you expect to find any college that does not have a preponderance of believers (however defined).</p>

<p>You like the school and are just getting cold feet. Nothing to be concerned about.</p>

<p>Why don’t you tell us what the top choice college is?</p>

<p>It would be a pretty straightforward way to obtain a better assessment.</p>

<p>The question you’ve asked is way mire general than the question you want answered. You really want to know, Will I hate it or feel uncomfortable if I go to this particular college as a non-believer?</p>

<p>The answer you’d get about (just to pick one) Brandeis is probably different from the answer you’d get about BYU or Grove City College.</p>

<p>I agree with the others that the answer is “probably not,” but if you want to find out about this particular college, the best way is to ask in the forum for it. (I realize, I am just assuming it has one here. Does it?)</p>

<p>Sent from my DROIDX using CC</p>


Cool. Attempting (and failing) to make me feel like an idiot is really the way to go about answering my question… oh, wait… you didn’t even do that.</p>

<p>Those statistics are, I’m assuming, based on ALL ages? I’m under the impression, as a 17 year old myself, that younger people tend to be less religious. I have no sources to back this up, of course, but it’s something I’ve observed, at least where I live. At my high school, probably the majority of students are either non-believers or believers who just don’t really follow a religion. Therefore, going from being in the majority to being in a TINY minority is a BIT of a change, don’t you think?</p>


I explained why in my post. Re-read it.</p>

<p>Besides what I’ve already said, there’s also the fact that it’s somewhat of an obscure school. Therefore, I’d get less answers if I were to be asking the question specifically on the school itself.</p>


I actually did ask a similar question in the forum for the school months ago. I felt I would get more honest responses by concealing the name of the school and asking a more general question.</p>

<p><a href=“I’m%20not%20going%20to%20name%20the%20college,%20because%20I%20don’t%20want%20people%20who%20go%20to%20the%20college%20coming%20and%20giving%20me%20dishonest%20answers%20just%20to%20make%20it%20sound%20good.%20I%20want%20honesty.”>quote</a>


<p>Oh. You don’t think you can screen those responses, yourself?</p>



<p>I bet you’ll get more than five.</p>

<p>Most small colleges got their start with some sort of religious affiliation. A school will get the type of religious mixing you mention only if it has a reputation for good academics and a supportive student experience. Unless you take a religion course, it will almost never come up in conversation.</p>

<p>Weekly service attendance by college students is pretty low: about 25% (my source - homily during mass) of those who went with family during high school keep attending during college. Only about half of the people who self-identify with a religion attended regularly before college. Doing the math, only about 11% of the student body will be actively participating with their religion.</p>



<p>What makes you think that the majority of students at this college - which is not a religious one, I can tell what it is by your past posts – aren’t also “believers who just don’t follow a religion”? Plenty of people have generalized beliefs in God and / or Jesus Christ, might identify themselves if asked as Catholic or Lutheran or whatever, but that doesn’t make them highly religious or evangelical or anything. </p>

<p>I bet if you asked your high school to fill out a similar poll, most would check off one of the major religions. Doesn’t make them “religious.” Just means that they were raised as Lutheran or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever, and if asked, they’re going to give an answer.</p>

<p>I really think you are reading way more into this than needs to be.</p>

<p>So you’ve asked at the college, and been told that most non-believers find it a comfortable place to learn.</p>

<p>You’ve asked about colleges generally, and been told not only that most non-believers find many church-affiliated colleges comfortable places to learn, but also that the distribution of Catholics, Protestants and Jews on campus makes it pretty unlikely that the place is going to lean too strongly in favor of any particular religion.</p>

<p>At this point, you probably know about as much as you could know about this college without going there yourself. Seems to me, if you like this college otherwise, and you’re suited to it academically, you should try for it. </p>

<p>Could it still work out badly for you? Absolutely. But it probably won’t. And there are very few iron-clad guarantees in life. Most of the time, the best we can do when we make major decisions is to gather as much reliable information beforehand as we can, make a decision that seems sensible in light of the acquired information, and hope that things mostly work out the way we anticipated.</p>

<p>Just to answer a small part of this.</p>

<p>Jews have been persecuted and pressured to convert for centuries in all parts of the world. So we’re especially sensitive to this sort of situation. When you tell me that 30% of the students identify themselves as Jewish, I have to assume the school culture is ok. We simply wouldn’t flock to a school that made us feel threatened or uncomfortable.</p>

<p>I think this article by an education consulting firm can answer your question :
[Religion</a> and the Decision About Which College to Attend–The Example of Muhlenberg | Great College Advice](<a href=“]Religion”>Religion and the College Decision--The Example of Muhlenberg | Great College Advice)</p>

<p>If you are still unsure of the environment, perhaps you could arrange an overnight campus visit? Unless you are talking about an ED decision, there is plenty of time to investigate the school and compare it to your other choices…</p>



<p>What normal, mainstream, non-religious college <em>isn’t</em> going to have the bulk of its student body self-identify as Jewish, Catholic or Protestant? Self-identifying is pretty nominal.</p>



<p>To quote my own original post yet again:


<p>Yes, I am talking an ED decision. That was the whole purpose of me asking this question. That doesn’t leave much time for exploring other colleges.</p>

<p>To anyone who said something along the lines of:

Okay. I’m not a perfect human being. Excuse me. I’ve gathered that imperfection is frowned upon on College Confidential. Forgive me for tainting the forums with my <em>gulp</em> mistakes. I know that word must really hurt you guys.</p>

<p>Wow, you’re really kind of testy.</p>

<p>Sent from my DROIDX using CC</p>