Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.

2.01.2010

Longer-term Effects of Attending a Catholic College

Following up on CARA Working Paper #9 regarding the short-term effects of Catholic college attendance (from the freshman to junior years) on the faith lives of Catholic students it is also the case that CARA has conducted a significant amount of research on the long-term effects (throughout life) of attending a Catholic higher education institution.

CARA's has conducted 19 national surveys of self-identified adult Catholics, including more than 21,000 respondents, since 2000. Within these surveys we find many differences between Catholics who attended a Catholic college and those who attended a non-Catholic college (thus, excluding those who did not go to college).

A summary of some of these key differences is provided below. More is available from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).

Catholics who attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than Catholics who attended a non-Catholic college (public or private) to:
  • Attend Mass every week (34 percent compared to 19 percent)
  • Register with a parish (75 percent compared to 55 percent)
  • To agree that “I seriously consider the Church’s statements, such as those of the Pope and U.S. Bishops on social, political and moral issues” (55 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that “all human life, from conception to natural death, is sacred. For this reason, the taking of life—whether through abortion, the death penalty, or assisted suicide—is wrong” (53 percent compared to 35 percent)
  • To oppose the death penalty (51 percent compared to 33 percent)
  • To disagree that “a woman should have the right whether or not to abort an unwanted pregnancy” (44 percent compared to 24 percent)
  • To oppose “making it legal for a physician to help a dying person commit suicide” (53 percent compared to 43 percent)
  • To agree that “Catholics have a duty to close the gap between the rich and the poor” (54 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that “society has a responsibility for helping poor people get out of poverty” (76 compared to 59 percent)
  • To agree that “the United States has a responsibility to take the lead in global peace-building (i.e., non-violent solutions to conflict)” (73 percent compared to 60 percent)
  • To agree that “It is important to me to do what I can do to help poor and needy people in countries outside of the United States” (71 percent compared to 54 percent)
  • To say that, when making political choices, they draw on their Catholic faith either “very much” or “somewhat” (70 percent compared to 55 percent)
  • Among men, those who have attended a Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a priest or brother (43 percent compared to 23 percent)
  • Among women, those who have attended Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a sister or nun (39 percent compared to 20 percent)
Across the board, Catholics who have attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than those who attended a non-Catholic college to respond in a manner that is more consistent with Church teachings and practice.

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