10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Today’s College Student


Chapel Center delegates to our diocesan convention in Punta Gorda (Oct 2014).

Our society usually tends to view campus life just a bit idealistically.  Perhaps that is due to the somewhat fuzzy memory of those of us who attended college more than a few years ago.  Perhaps it is because college students are generally portrayed in stereotypes in our movies and TV shows.  For whatever the reason, we tend to view college life as a time of football games and heavy duty partying, punctuated only by the occasional all night study sessions to cram for a final exam and passing grade.  All the privileges and freedoms of adult life without any of the responsibilities and obligations.

A brief survey of campus statistics paints a different picture:

  • Only 14% of college students actually live on campus.
  • 24% of college students live at home with their parents or other relatives.
  • 25% of college students have children or dependents of their own.
  • 70% of students borrow money to get a four year degree.
  • The percentage of students who aren’t academically ready for college when they arrive is as high as 50% in some states.  That percentage is higher for community colleges.  At four year schools, 1 in 5 students may need remediation.
  • The majority of students don’t graduate on time. 59% will graduate within six years of starting a degree program.
  • The average age of a college student is 24.  While most students in public and private non-profit schools are still in their late teens and early 20’s, at private for-profit schools, older students are much more prevalent.  There the median age is 27 and the average student has one child.
  • 57% of students are female.  Perhaps this is not a surprising statistic; however, as recently as the 1970’s, women comprised only 40% of the student population.
  • Other population demographics are shifting rapidly and will continue to do so.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total percentage of the various minority students combined is now larger that the percentage of white students in public grade schools.
  • According to the 2013 National College Health Assessment, almost one third of college students reported that they had felt so depressed during the previous year that it had been difficult to function.  More than half reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety.

As we look at how the Church should be present on our university campuses, perhaps the best place to start is to ask who it is that we are serving when we minister to college students.  Now more than ever a college campus brings together a broad range of people with greatly varying talents, hopes, dreams, and needs.  Rather than judging what we think they might need or want, how about getting to know them first?

And asking them?

Question:  What do you know about the college students in your community?





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