Every year students around the country are graduating high school and looking to college to continue their education.

When students go to college they typically live on campus. This means that college campuses have the opportunity to influence students in the areas of their religious life. But is this influence positive or negative?

“I’ve seen both, it’s not cut and dry one way or another. I’ve seen people that come to college and feel very strongly about their religious beliefs … and something happens and they jettison those,” says T.L. Berry, a campus minister for Campus Crusade for Christ, Cru, at East Tennessee State University.

Berry has been at ETSU for six years. He says that he has also seen students on campus who don’t have a spiritual background or don’t care about having one. When these students come to college it is like something happens and all of the sudden they become very spiritually interested.

ETSU is a diverse campus that enrolls more than 15,000 students.

Out of these students, about 21 percent live on campus. With more than 190 different groups that students can join, including religious organizations, ETSU has something for everyone.

The question here for the students is what group are they going to participate in and how is that going to affect their religious life if they choose to have one.

“I think it depends on who you surround yourself with,” says Courtney Naff, a junior at ETSU. “And it depends on if you know your beliefs and if you stick to them.”

Recent reports have claimed that college students are losing their religion because their classes have challenged their beliefs in a way that produces a negative result.

“The more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views,” Dennis Prager writes in National Review. “The [S]ecular Left argues that this correlation is due to the fact that a college graduate knows more and thinks more clearly and therefore gravitates leftward and toward secularism.”

Is having more knowledge really the source of students losing their faith, though?

Some argue that through a liberal arts education students learn more about the world and other cultures and have a more well-rounded view on life.

This leads them to question their religious beliefs by wondering if what they were raised to believe in was ever really true.

“In my opinion, I would say that it depends on the person. If you come to college, knowing who you are then I think that it could affect you positively,” said Boaz Mouzon, a college freshman at ETSU who has taken philosophy classes. “Depending on [whom] you surround yourself with, then it could affect you negatively.”

Ryan Berkley is also a college freshman at ETSU and says that his religious experience here has been a very positive one. He regularly attends a campus ministry and is a member of Sigma Chi.

“I became religious while I was in school and wasn’t beforehand,” said Berkley.

He says that when he came to college he pledged a fraternity and met a guy through a campus ministry who was doing a Bible study.

Through this, he says that he became religious and his faith grew.

“I realized that I was stupid and that through my ignorance, pride and self-righteousness God was there waiting for me and he does love me,” said Berkley.

Berry says that in his experience working with college students that he has seen many different situations with students and their spiritual lives. He says that there is no definite answer. He says that there were people that he knew that seemed to drift away from their spiritual life while he was in college, so college seemed to be bad for them.

Berry says, “I know from personal experience from when I was in college… as well as for several of my friends, it was an opportunity for [us] to grow in [our] spiritual walks, or even [for some of them to] begin their spiritual walk.”