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Your Spiritual Life

Have you ever wondered…
What kind of person do I want to be?
What will I do with the rest of my life?
How can I make my community—or the world—a better place?

If you have, you’re not alone. According to The Spiritual Life of College Students, a national survey of 112,232 first-year students from 236 colleges and universities across the country, today’s college students have a very high level of spiritual interest and involvement. Where do you fit in?

  • Close to 75% of students say they are actively “searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, discuss the meaning of life with friends and have high expectations that college will provide opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually.”
  • 80% of students have attended religious services in the past year. More than two-thirds pray, and 40% integrate religious beliefs and practice into their everyday life.
  • About two-thirds of students say they derive strength, support and guidance from their spiritual and/or religious beliefs.
  • Almost 80% of students believe in God.

Do you believe in God?

Depending on which religion you observe, you may believe in one God, in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity, in Allah or in spirits or personal gods. Or you may not believe in God at all.

Just as the concept of God varies from one religion to another, so do our beliefs about God’s very existence.

Atheists do not believe that God exists. Agnostics aren’t sure. You can be a spiritual person, regardless of your religious beliefs or your belief in God.

What’s the difference between spirituality and religion?

Spirituality refers to unique feelings and beliefs many of us have about who we are, why we are here and our connections to others and the world around us. It can also refer to things that are harder to explain, such as inspiration, creativity, sacredness and mysticism.

Religion is an organized set of beliefs, attitudes and practices, typically observed by many people in the same way.

For some people, religious beliefs form the core of their spirituality; for others, religious beliefs play little or no part in their spiritual experience.

Are you religious?

Many students today are trying to find out. Some students grow up with organized religion, but don’t pursue it once they’re on their own because it holds no meaning or comfort for them. Others turn to religion or spirituality to cope with overwhelming situations like 9/11, the death of a friend or loved one or their parents’ divorce. Still others are experimenting, exploring different religions and traditions to see what feels right to them.

If you’re curious about a religion other than your own, inquire about activities that interest you on campus or in your local community and ask if you can attend. Or maybe you can tag along with a friend to a place of worship or holiday celebration. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn about a new religion from an up close and personal point of view.

How to get involved

Opportunities for spiritual and religious discovery are an important part of any college community that embraces the diversity of its students. Whether you prefer meditation, religious observance or hashing out the meaning of life around a dinner table, you’re likely to find many outlets to explore your spirituality through academic courses, traditional worship and activities and organizations both on campus and off.

Most campuses offer a variety of spiritual and religious resources for students. There may be an Office of Campus Ministry that accommodates different faiths, or your school may have a relationship with a church, temple, synagogue or mosque nearby. Resources may also be available for spiritual exploration and expression through various campus organizations and special interest groups.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your student advisor, RA or inquire at the Student Center.


“Atheist student groups flower on college campuses, by Eric Gorski, The Associated Press, USA Today, 2009.

“Finding their religion: Young people are seeking faith in nontraditional ways,” by Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe, 2005.

The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose, Higher Education Research Institute, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 2005.

“US freshmen reveal their spiritual side,” by Stacy A. Teicher, The Christian Science Monitor, 2005.

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