God, Grades, and Graduation

  • Author Ilana M. Horwitz
  • Narrator Kate Mulligan
  • Publisher Blackstone Publishing
  • Run Time 8 hours and 36 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Social classes.

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What to expect

The surprising ways in which a religious upbringing shapes the academic lives of teens

It’s widely acknowledged that American parents from different class backgrounds take different approaches to raising their children. Upper- and middle-class parents invest considerable time facilitating their children’s activities, while working class and poor families take a more hands-off approach. These different strategies influence how children approach school. But missing from the discussion is the fact that millions of parents on both sides of the class divide are raising their children to listen to God. What impact does a religious upbringing have on their academic trajectories?

Drawing on ten years of survey data with over three thousand teenagers and over two hundred interviews, God, Grades, and Graduation offers a revealing and at times surprising account of how teenagers’ religious upbringing influences their educational pathways from high school to college. Dr. Ilana M. Horwitz estimates that approximately one out of every four students in American schools are raised with religious restraint. These students orient their life around God so deeply that it alters how they see themselves and how they behave, inside and outside of church.

This book takes us inside the lives of these teenagers to discover why they achieve higher grades than their peers, why they are more likely to graduate from college, and why boys from lower middle-class families particularly benefit from religious restraint. But listeners also learn how for middle-upper class kids—and for girls especially—religious restraint recalibrates their academic ambitions after graduation, leading them to question the value of attending a selective college despite their stellar grades in high school. By illuminating the far-reaching effects of the childrearing logic of religious restraint, God, Grades, and Graduation offers a compelling new narrative about the role of religion in academic outcomes and educational inequality.

Critics Review

  • God, Grades, and Graduation shows just how complex the relationship between religion and class is today by making the point that religion helps some youth achieve while truncating others’ imagined futures. This is a must read for scholars of religion, education, or class mobility more generally.”

    Melissa Wilde, professor of sociology, University of Pennsylvania

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