Keeping the faith in college is not as hard as it sounds

Isabel Ward

Walking on campus may seem like a lonely tread for those of us who are believers. If you’re a person of faith in college today, you have probably experienced the feeling of being alone in your beliefs.

This is one of the challenges that people of faith face in a culture where religion is declining.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life website, Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are considerably less religious than older people. “Generation X” and the “Baby Boomers” were much more religiously affiliated than the “Millennials.” One in four adults under the age of 30 are unaffiliated, describing themselves as atheist or agnostic as opposed to 19 percent who are in their 30s and 15 percent who are in their 40s.

This means that many students that we brush past on campus today are non-believers.

Some Christians consider it difficult to adapt to the campus culture, which a lot of times is less about God and more about partying.

Junior graphic design major Kenny Wong, a member of the Christian group on campus CRU, said since he has a conservative background, it was a challenge to adapt to Sac State campus.

“At first it was kind of like a culture shock of people making different choices that I wouldn’t have made. I was taken aback,” Wong said.

Most religions are countercultural because they go against the mores of mainstream society, which often excludes faith-based attitudes. This being said, there is always the struggle that comes with pursuing something that is against the norm. College especially is a place where believing in what is unseen is not the norm.

Those who are believers feel the pressures that go along with exposing their faith on a college campus.

“I’m not saying that I feel we’re persecuted against, but it does make me feel like I have to watch what I say,” said president of CRU Sarah Nguyen. “So sometimes I can’t voice my opinion and not be looked at funny.”

Since religion is declining we find that people probably are less likely to agree with what people of faith believe in. This may cause many to lower their voices for fear of what they might look like.

People in general care about what people think about them. We want to be liked and accepted, especially at an age when young adults are seeking friendships and a place of community. After all, no one really likes to be alone in their beliefs.

This may be one of the reasons why Christian groups are formed – they make you feel like you are a part of something and not separate from all.

Wong said being a part of the Christian community at Sac State is the backbone of his Christian experience.

“I’m walking through it with them. And so I don’t feel alone,” Wong said.

To keep the faith in college, being part of a group will not only help you to not feel alone, but it can also help strengthen your walk.

“There’s such a big community here at our school and just to get involved somewhere will not only help you meet people who share similar views as you, but will really challenge you to think in new ways about what you believe,” said Kayla West, member of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at Sac State.

Being a part of a Christian group does help one to keep the faith, but ultimately it is up to the individual whether he or she wants to keep his or her faith in college.

College may be the crossroads where those who are believers have to decide which way they will choose to go.

Nguyen said her first three years in college, she was more focused on academics than on her beliefs. But she said:

“It’s like either I give up what I say I believe or I live out what I believe.”

Your faith can either strengthened or weaken in college. But for many in Christian groups, it is strengthened on campus.

Junior construction management major Cody Schilling, also a member of the CRU, said that his faith has been enhanced in college.

“I like to tell people that I came to school to study construction management and that’s pretty much what my mind was set on and,” Schilling said, “ I had no idea how much I would grow in my faith in my time here at Sac State. And it’s been really cool.”

The challenges believers face in college can either make or break their faith, but those who are plugged into clubs and communities seem to stand a better chance than those who are not.

Still, whether we are alone in our faith, or tied to others, we should continue on the path that we have chosen to be the best for us.