A New “Zoobie”
Last week Spencer got that exciting email – he had been admitted to BYU-Provo for Fall 2012. He’s nervous and relieved and excited. Tom is already plotting all the weekends he can join Spencer to watch BYU Football (and probably Basketball and who know what other sports!)
It got me thinking about my experience going off to college. I grew up in places where I was in the minority, religiously speaking. None of my friends attended my church, and many of them probably thought we were a little weird. But I had good friends and they were respectful of my beliefs – never making it hard for me to live the standards I had grown up with and learned to appreciate. When I got ready to look at colleges, I wasn’t afraid of moving away or living someplace new. My family had been doing that since I was born. Last time I counted, I believe we made fourteen moves from the time I was born until I graduated from high school. I attended three different high schools. So when I considered college, I looked around – schools on the East Coast because I had loved living in Maine, and schools in California because I had spent some of my happiest years in Monterey and San Diego. Because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I considered BYU as well, though in my group of Mormon peers BYU wasn’t very cool. Some members of my extended family thought it was ridiculous that I was considering anywhere but BYU. My parents were pretty quiet when it came to my choices. They let me spend a summer with a friend in Maine the year before I was a senior in high school – and that put paid to going back East. Too far. My parents dutifully arranged a tour of BYU that fall when we went to visit grandparents at Thanksgiving time. I think it was the first time I had ever been on campus. In the spring, my dad and I made a trip up to Pomona College in Claremont, California so I could see the campus. They never really said much (at least not that I can remember) about what their preferences were. I knew my choices would be influenced by what I could afford – and that I would need to figure out a way to pay for the majority of the costs, since I was the oldest kid in the family and my parents still had grade-schoolers to care for. In the end I chose BYU because it was the most affordable. It was a fortuitous decision. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy having friends who shared my faith. I had a social life that eluded me in high school, partly because I moved so frequently and partly because I was always wary of how my high school friends saw me. In a critical time when young adults are figuring out who they are and what they believe, I found myself in an environment that was nurturing of my faith instead of hostile. Looking back, I feel like that made a huge difference in the things I did and the direction my life took.
But BYU isn’t the best school for everyone. None of my siblings attended school there – their needs were different and their experiences were perfect for them. When it came to Spencer’s choices, I wondered what he would want to do. He grew up in a home with two BYU alumni – AND his father is a rabid BYU sports fan and has been since he was a young boy (having grown up in Provo). Spencer spent a week every summer in Provo visiting family and we always made a trip to campus, just to see what had changed. Early on he started saying he wanted to go to BYU when he grew up. But he also used to say he wanted to be a doctor 🙂 This year when it came time to start applying to schools, he was pretty confident that BYU was where he wanted to go. I wonder, did we unduly influence him? did we not give him enough exposure to other choices? At least I can be sure that he will get a good education and there is some comfort in knowing that there will be lots of family support there if he needs it. But apart from any parenting angst I might be feeling, there’s a part of me that is REALLY excited that he is going to attend school at a place where I have such great memories!! I hope he will have his own wonderful days there.