A recent study at my alma mater, the University of Iowa (go Hawks!), concludes that teenagers who go to church are likely to have higher GPAs and lower dropout rates than their non-church going friends.Â Livescience reports:
On average, students whose parents received a four-year college degree average a GPA .12 higher than those whose parents completed high school only. Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA .144 higher than those who never attend services, said Jennifer Glanville, a sociologist at the University of Iowa.
The study does not suggest God is smiling on the students, per se. Rather, it identifies several reasons the students do better:
Â·Â Â Â They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
Â·Â Â Â Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends’ parents.
Â·Â Â Â They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
Â·Â Â Â They’re more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.
Those factors account for only half the predicted effect, Glanville and colleagues say.
“There are two directions you can go with this research,” she said. “Some might say this suggests that parents should have their kids attend places of worship. Or, if we use it to help explain why religious participation has a positive effect on academics, parents who aren’t interested in attending church can consider how to structure their kids’ time to allow access to the same beneficial social networks and opportunities religious institutions provide.”
The study also showed whether the teens said religion was important to them.
“Surprisingly, the importance of religion to teens had very little impact on their educational outcomes,” Glanville said. “That suggests that the act of attending church — the structure and the social aspects associated with it — could be more important to educational outcomes than the actual religion.”
So, instead of giving your money to Kaplan test prep and fancy tutors, join a shul!Â Orâ€¦a church?