“What’s your plan when you get home?”
I always ask missionaries about their schooling. Did they attend college or trade school before serving a mission? Are they planning to go back? What are they planning to study and why? I know that’s a lot of pressure for a young person who’s supposed to be 100 percent dedicated to service for 18 to 24 months, but it’s the luck of the draw, kid: I prep students for the SAT, and my husband is a college professor.
Call it an occupational hazard, but I worry a lot about teenagers figuring out what they want to do with their lives and how they’re going to get it done. And I tend to worry more about girls than about boys. Mormon guys tend to have it in their heads that they’re supposed to have a career that will support a family. Mormon girls grow up hearing that their primary goal is to be wives and mothers, and their college plans tend to reflect that.
But I hear great things from the sister missionaries who serve in our ward. “I went to BYU Idaho for a year. I really like it there.” “I’m at BYU for undergrad, but I plan to go to medical school.” “I was working, but I’m thinking of going to community college when I get back.” “BYU. Accounting.”
The one you’re going to hear about today started with, “Well, I was at LDS Business College. But they’re cutting my program, so I guess I’ll just go back home and go to BYU Idaho.”
What? Cutting your program? That sounds intriguing. Tell me more.
“I’m majoring in photography, because I really want to be a professional photographer. But they’re not going to offer that major any more. It’s too bad, because I really liked Salt Lake City and my school.”
And then I had one of those moments: you know, the ones that are fixed points in time when you’re supposed to do something for someone, and you might miss it if you aren’t careful? Or maybe it was one of those moments when the clueless but bossy ward member barges in with an ill-considered position and ends up sticking her foot in her mouth. Either way, I took a deep breath.
“You know, I run a business, and I think the best thing I ever did was to take management classes. You’re probably already a pretty good photographer, right?”
“You’ll keep learning and developing your craft on your own if it’s something you love so much. Why not use college to learn the stuff that’s hardest for you but that you need to know about? Take some accounting and finance classes. The business side of any business takes a lot of time.”
She gave me a huge smile. “That’s a great idea.” And later that week, “I think on P-Day I’m going to email my mom and have her re-enroll me at LDS Business College so I can get a degree in, you know, business.”
God go with you, sister.
I wonder why I don’t take my own advice more often. Instead of avoiding the hard stuff, why don’t I dig in and learn it? It’s not as though there’s a better or easier time. It will help me in the long run.
What would you learn if you had the chance to do so?