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.
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 email@example.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.