Jewish Journal


November 21, 2010

How college shapes students spiritual lives



Researchers at UCLA spent several years studying how college shapes students’ spiritual quest. Their findings were significant, though not surprising, and I discussed them in a cover story for UCLA Magazine a few years back. Here’s a snippet:

“It is the nature of the beast of people that age. It’s just part of being a college student,” says Alexander Astin, co-leader of the “Spirituality in Higher Education” study and an emeritus professor of higher education. “College students are on a developmental adventure.”

Now Astin and his co-researchers have published a book discussing their findings, “Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives.” I doubt it’s “God on the Quad,” but it got a little mention in the Los Angeles Times yesterday:

The study found that many students struggled with their religious beliefs and became less certain of them during their college years.

It also found that many young people eschewed the rituals of organized religion but embraced what the researchers defined as the cornerstones of spirituality: asking the big, existential questions; working to improve one’s community; and showing empathy toward other people.

“These spiritual qualities are critical and vital to many things a student does in college and after,” Astin said.


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