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Completed Some College by Number of Extramarital Sexual Partners and Religious Practice

The 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Child and Young Adult Survey shows that adults who had no extramarital sexual partners and worshipped at least weekly at the time of the survey were more likely to have completed some college. [1]

Number of Extramarital Sexual Partners: Forty-three percent of individuals who had no extramarital sexual partners had completed some college, compared with 41 percent of those who had one extramarital sexual partner. Forty percent of those who had two or more extramarital sexual partners had completed college, while 42 percent of those who had three or more extramarital sexual partners had completed some college. Only 35 percent of those with four or more extramarital sexual partners had completed some college.  

Religious Practice: Forty-one percent of those who attended church weekly had completed some college, as well as 41 percent of those who attended at least once a month. Only 38 percent of those who attended church less than once a month had completed some college, followed by 28 percent of those who never attended church.

Number of Extramarital Sexual Partners and Religious Practice Combined: Those who worshiped at least weekly and were chaste (had no extramarital sexual partners) were most likely to have completed some college (48 percent), compared to 44 percent of those who attended church weekly but were promiscuous (had four or more extramarital sexual partners). Thirty percent of those who were promiscuous and had never attended church had completed some college, followed by 28 percent who were chaste but who did not ever attend church.

Related Insights from Other Studies: One study of 330 college students at a southeastern university found that students who hold core spiritual beliefs, such as a belief that having a spiritual life is important, and those who have had spiritual experiences that changed their life are likely to have more conservative, traditional views about sexual practices (e.g., the purpose of sex) and possess less sexually permissive attitudes.[2]

Another study of undergraduates at a small secular liberal arts college found an association between an increase in religious practice and an increase in academic performance among college-aged students: more than 75 percent of students who become more religious during their college years achieved above-average college performance.[3]

 

[1] These charts draw on data collected by the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Child and Young Adult (1994-2008)

[2] Henry D. Beckwith and Jennifer Ann Morrow, “Sexual attitudes of college students: the impact of religiosity and spirituality,” College Student Journal 39, no.2 (June 2005).

[3] David S. Zern, “Some Connections Between Increasing Religiousness and Academic Accomplishment in a College Population,” Adolescence 24, no. 93 (1989): 152. This study’s sample size was 251. Zern also found that neither past nor present religious practice was related to grade point average in college.