How do campuses attract millennials?

Viterbo University students enjoy class outside on a spring day. (Steve Woit)

Young adults today are distinguished by many factors. They are the most racially diverse and educated generation to date; they are unattached to organized religion, and strapped in debt. But they are also charged with a desire to contribute to their community — and this may be a selling point for recruiters at U.S. Catholic colleges.

“I think that a huge part of the millennials is we are willing to give back in any way that we can, no matter what the cost is for us,” said Thea Peterson, 21, a nursing student at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., a private, Roman Catholic liberal arts school. “For me, it’s always on my mind: ‘What can I do for this person?’ ”

According to a 2014 White House report, 42 percent of millennials — those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white, almost twice the number of baby boomers when they were the same age. Around 61 percent of adult millennials have attended college, compared to 46 percent of baby boomers. And millennials are more committed to society and community leadership than previous generations, the report found.

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