Although the distractions on college campuses make maintaining religious practices difficult, some students have found a way to keep their faith strong throughout their college years.
Christianity has a large presence on MSU’s campus. For some students, their faith drifts away from them but for others their faith is strengthened by going to college.
According to a study done by Jenny L. Small, a doctorate student of philosophy at the University of Michigan in 2008, “In sum, the recent studies on college students and religion and spirituality have shown students to be highly interested in these issues and strongly influenced by their families, their peers, and the campus environment.”
“The world is all around you, with drinking and girls and money. All of those things are nice but with being a Christian you have to find a way to navigate through that, but you can’t completely avoid it at the same time,” said advertising junior Richie Christie.
Food science junior Mallory Flanders said, “I am surrounded by the world and I can so easily get caught up in trying to conform myself to what the world wants whether that’s in body or mind or competition.”
Jake MacLean, a pre-med junior and Christian leader on campus, said living in the college environment at MSU is such an opportunity and there are many different desires to have.
“At Michigan State, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want,” he said.
“It’s awesome being a Christian at Michigan State because you have to be a Christian, you can’t be a half Christian. You have to choose to either step out or go out and party away,” said MacLean.
A great way to keep your faith in college is to get involved in a student organization, like campus crusades, where people share your same beliefs and values, said Christie.
“These are great communities of people with the same beliefs and values. These people are there for you when you’re struggling,” said Christie.
“Many Christian students around campus attend smaller bible studies throughout the week whether it’s at their dorm or an off campus location, but there is a weekly meeting where everyone gathers called Real Life,” said Flanders.
“Real life brings me back to Christ. It brings me back to reality instead of the life I try to live in this world,” Flanders said.
With all the distractions and temptations of a college campus, MacLean said, “I’ve had to step out and be a Christian in a place where maybe a lot of people aren’t stepping out.”
MacLean is part of MSU’s Campus Crusades. He said, “the Christian community I have, especially with Campus Crusade, has been great because they are also a bunch of guys who are stepping out.”
Small’s study said, “An additional important study found that college cannot be considered the cause of the decline in the religiosity of young adults. In fact, the authors found that ‘those who never attended college had the highest rates of disaffiliation, decreased service attendance, and decreased importance placed on religion.’”
“Being in college increases my faith because of all the struggles that I face because I’ve had to over come them,” Flanders said.
Flanders admits that her faith is challenged and is not always simple.
“It’s easy for me to want attention and want things that give me temporary happiness but I know it won’t give me permanent happiness,” she said.
“I was a Young Life leader throughout high school. Young life is a lot like MSU’s Real Life,” said education junior Lexi Justice.
Justice said now that she is at college she is involved in many groups and has to put in a lot of volunteer hours. It’s hard for her to find Christian organizations that don’t conflict with her other activities and school work.
College students tend to view religion and spirituality in different ways.
“I think often religion is perceived as a political stance or sometimes it’s just used when people have a low time in their life,” said Flanders.
According to the study, “Many college students differentiate between religion and spirituality. Michael Zabriskie found in a study of 1,200 students on four college campuses that 41.5% defined themselves as spiritual and religious, 27.5% as spiritual but not religious, 5.3% as religious but not spiritual, and 14.2% as neither religious nor spiritual.”
Flanders said, “Students shouldn’t feel like they are being judged by the Christian community, anyone can come to Real Life as they are, no matter their background or beliefs.”