August 19th, 2011
11:53 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – Bennington College students recently learned that their Vermont school had received an honor that some might consider dubious: They attend the least religious college in America, according to an annual educational survey.
Bennington’s selection was part of an intriguing national survey listing the Top 5 colleges in the U.S. for most and least religious students.
The survey is part of a larger study conducted by the Princeton Review, a Massachusetts-based educational services company, for its new book, “The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 edition.”
Princeton Review interviewed 122,000 students at 376 top colleges to rate their schools and describe their campus experiences. Some of the categories included: Top colleges for “Most Conservative/Most Liberal Students,” “Best Professors,” and “Great Financial Aid.”
The survey’s questions about religion, though, caught our attention.
The 5 colleges with "most religious students” were: Brigham Young University, which is Mormon, in Utah; Hillsdale College in Michigan; Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic school in California; Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Illinois; and Grove City College, an evangelical school in Pennsylvania.
The 5 colleges with “least religious students” were: Bennington College; Reed College in Oregon; Bard College in New York; Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College, both in New York.
Robert Franek, author of "Best 376 Colleges," says the survey’s method for determining a college’s religiosity was simple: The Princeton Review just talked to students.
“We wanted to hear from whom we consider the college experts - current college students,” he says. “Those are the folks who are the real experts.”
Franek says students were asked if they strongly agreed or strongly disagreed that other students on campus were religious. Students were asked to give their answers on a five-point scale. The results were used to tally the book’s ranking lists of the top 5 finishers in each religious category.
From around the web
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.