I’m supposed to go to BYU-Idaho this January, but I’m getting cold feet. Help?

I am planning to go to BYU-Idaho in January, or was until I realized that not only will I be going to church every Sunday with perfect strangers but also going to devotional, taking religion classes, and going to family home evening EVERY WEEK.  It will be hard…but for me, maybe even impossible. I like the good social gathering just as much as the next gal, but I’m afraid the push toward conformity will be too much to take. I feel stupid for thinking of changing my plans now, since the whole decision to go to BYU-I has been one of much thought, and prayer. It’s taken time for me to get here; how can I make a decision to go somewhere else so fast?! I want to go to a college where I will fit in and feel at home, grow spiritually and socially, and excel academically. I don’t think I should have to worry about changing who I am. Please help me find a happy middle ground where I will feel I fit in by being just who I am, and don’t have to change a thing.

HK

Dear HK:

If I were you, I’d be less worried about the religious pressure at BYU-Idaho than the freezing winter cold.  Then again, I’m a thin-blooded California girl who teaches at San Diego State University.

Sounds to me like you’re getting a classic case of cold feet about your decision to attend BYU-I.  Listen, HK.  In my book, there is only one hard and fast rule when it comes to colleges:  you should go to the best school you can get into and afford, and while you’re there, you should work hard and learn as much as possible.

I’ve known plenty of LDS kids who’ve attended the BYU of their choice and loved it.  I’ve known plenty of LDS kids who’ve attended the BYU of their choice and found the conformity “too much to take.”  I’ve even known LDS kids who hightailed it out of Provo after one year because it was all getting to them.  And I know kids in each category who grew up to be happy and successful and sufficiently Mormon.

You say, “I want to go to a college where I will fit in and feel at home, grow spiritually and socially, and excel academically.”

Good news!  Pretty much anywhere you choose to go, as long as you stay focused on your goals, you will grow spiritually and socially, and excel academically. But fitting in and feeling at home?  That’s harder to predict, and it’s mostly up to you.  I bet you could find some like-minded souls in Rexburg.  And I bet you could find some like-minded souls behind door number two . . . wherever that door leads.

But do you even know what’s behind door number two? Have you taken a minute or two to figure out what else you might want?  You applied to BYU-I because it’s an obvious choice for a good Mormon kid.  But who are you, really, besides a young woman who chafes at the idea of lots and lots of church all the time?  Where is it you really want to go? What part of the country do you want to live in or explore?  What do you want to study?  Do you want a big school, a small school?  Somewhere far away from home or somewhere close and familiar?  You’ve studied hard and said your prayers, but have you studied your own mind?  And do you find these kinds of questions daunting or exhilarating?

If you relish the prospect of using the college years to do things like “discover your own mind,”  then I think you’re the type who should be thinking seriously about a plan B.  Otherwise, I’m thinking you should get your parka and snowboots ready.

Readers, what do you think?  Rise and shout?  (And does BYU-I even have a mascot?)  Looking back, what factors went into your college decisions?  What would you have done again?

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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8 Comments

Filed under BYU, young women

8 responses to “I’m supposed to go to BYU-Idaho this January, but I’m getting cold feet. Help?

  1. Just wanted to say that I was like you when I was getting ready to go to BYU-I (Ricks College when I was there). It was my parent’s idea that I go there. I didn’t want anything to do with it. But it was THE best thing I ever did. I really gained a testimony of the church and learned a lot about myself. I would encourage you to go ahead and stick with your plan. You can always go somewhere else, if you decide it’s really not for you. Give it a chance though. Good luck!

  2. utah_guy

    If you felt good about it and prayed about it, then I think you should go to through with that decision (see talk by Elder Holland called “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence”). Jump in with two feet! If you do that and hate it, you can always go somewhere else after the first year. But if you don’t put your heart into it, you’ll never know and might have regrets later. You can worry about any number of concerns, no matter where you go or even if you stay at home. Like Mormon Girl said, the quality of your experience is up to you.

    The only thing you shouldn’t do is go to BYU-I without the intent to embrace it. If you aren’t planning to keep the (many) rules, then let someone else take your place who wants to. But if you think you can give it your whole heart, at least for two semesters, go for it. I think you will love it. And I think you will find your experience change you for the better, not the worse.

  3. One word for you, HK:

    institute.

    Go to any public school in the western United States, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a good institute, where you can meet a range of LDS students, at least some of whom will share your values, make you feel at home and provide an environment where you fit in, even as you grow and evolve.

    The fact that you’re having cold feet means something. The spirit/our own senses of intuition has/have ways of communicating to us when we need to reconsider decisions. The fact that you’re having cold feet does NOT mean that you can’t survive at BYU-Idaho–but survival isn’t the issue, thriving is.

    Put bluntly, BYU-Idaho has a crappy academic reputation. I just checked its mission statement. Its first goal is to “Build testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage living its principles.” Second is to ” Provide a quality education for students of diverse interests and abilities.”

    In other words, academics are of secondary importance at BYU-I–explicitly so. Why would you go there unless hanging with an almost exclusively Mormon student body, going to church and cultivating orthodoxy for four years are your primary goal?

    And do you want your transcripts to announce to potential employers that you are someone who didn’t put academics first when choosing a college?

    Ask Mormon Girl, I have a question for you. You write, “You applied to BYU-I because it’s an obvious choice for a good Mormon kid.” How exactly is BYU-Idaho an obvious choice for a good Mormon kid? What does that mean, precisely? Something that reinforces orthodoxy is an obvious choice? As I write above, BYU-I doesn’t put academics first. How is choosing a school like that an obvious choice for Mormon kids, either good or not so good?

    I guess I can accept that unfortunately, choosing orthodoxy over serious intellectual inquiry is indeed an obvious choice for good Mormon kids, and good Mormon adults. But then we get to the fact that one reason your column exists, if you ask me, is that Mormons too easily make these types of “obvious” choices. They let someone else do their thinking for them–and as in the case of gay marriage, the obvious choice is supposed to be what a coterie of men say is the obvious choice–not what logic, evidence and compassion point to as the appropriate choice.

  4. Lisa Moore

    HK, if you follow Ask Mormon Girl and you’re not even in college yet, I don’t think you’re going to love BYU-I. You are obviously really smart and this is a priceless opportunity to love, love, love college. If you’re willing to be a little different because you’re Mormon, I think it’s time to apply to Smith or Yale or UCLA. Keep us posted because we know you have a big bright future.

  5. jen

    I went to BYU-I and I loved it. The students there are not robots. You will be able to find people there who are similar to you and you enjoy spending time with. There are plenty of outspoken super-conservative orthodox students, but they aren’t the majority. They are just the loudest. Arguing with them in class was actually very fun. I had awesome roommates and FHE sisters who really helped me have a great experience. Yes, I had a hyper judgmental roommate, but whatever, it was better than my friend’s roommate who stole her credit card. (Ah, college–)

    As far as academics, yeah, it isn’t an ivy league school, but I feel like I got a quality education for a great cost. I was in the Accounting department and my husband was in the Engineering department and both of us came out of there adequately prepared to go on to bigger schools (we went when it was still a Jr. College–maybe things are different now).

    You don’t have to change who you are to go there. You are going to feel pressure to change no matter where you go, but that pressure can actually help you solidify the person that you want to be. It’s an important part of the process of becoming a functioning adult. No matter where you decide to go, be vocal, participate in discussions. It was a great opportunity for me to learn to disagree politely but firmly and to stand up for myself. I learned that at Ricks and then again when I went to a more liberal university. I’m glad that I got both sides and was able to firmly establish my position as a moderate. :)

    You will get out of your education what you put in to it, no matter where you go. Work hard, be willing to learn and you will be able to go far. I know people who went to community colleges who are just as successful as some who went to more prestigious schools. Good luck. It sounds like you are going to do great.

  6. Timothy

    I LOVE BYU IDAHO!!

  7. Late I know, but for anyone reading. I didn’t want to go to any BYU school at all. I got convinced to go to BYUI on my mission by my mission president. I loved it. I’m not a mormony mormon, My highschool of 2000 had me and my sister in it. I was skeptical but It’s really good. There are some people that are defiantly in a bubble there but it is an amazing place. I am transferring to BYU for the winter. I like the church school environment but I would like more challenges academically.

  8. Devin

    Viking. The mascot is Thor the Viking.

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