Is College Education for Naught When You Just Stay Home?
A while ago I was talking to a BYU student in our neighborhood about college. She liked it; she was busy and stressed out; she found it strange coming home for holidays and having to report her schedule to her parents. I asked her what her major was. She said she wanted to be a pharmacist, but the chemistry was killing her. This was a bright young lady. I had no doubt she could be a pharmacist.
But I wondered, doesn’t she want to get married and have a family? She, too, has grown up believing that “the family is ordained of God … marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan” and that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. . . . By divine design, . . . mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” I contemplated. Wouldn’t it make it kind of hard to be a mother and a pharmacist someday? Why go through all the effort of pharmacy school? Why go to college for that matter, if you’re just going to end up at home?
Obviously there is inherent goodness in education. From a scriptural standpoint, in Doctrine and Covenants sections 88 and 109, we are encouraged to seek out of the “best books words of wisdom” and to “seek learning even by study and . . . by faith.” We know that whatever intelligence we gain in this life will be an advantage to us in the next (D&C 130: 18-19). We also know that “the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). Education also makes me a better, well-rounded, enlightened person with a better capacity to serve my family and community. It gives me more to think and talk about, more than pop culture or gossip. It helps me feel balanced.
Practically speaking, as a stay-at-home mom, if something happens to my husband, I need a backup plan (maybe it’s a new husband, maybe it’s a job), and college gives me a foundation for that. I also have a hunch that someday I’m going to be learning chemistry and physics and calculus and all sorts of other hard things anyway, so I may as well get a head start on them in this life.
I majored in health education and minored in history and international development: fairly practical topics. If I think back to my college classes, for nearly all of them, I can recognize at least one way each class helps me now. For instance, I use the relaxation techniques I learned in my stress management class; I pull out my first aid books when I need to help with a problem I can’t remember how to fix; I’m glad feminist-me paid at least a little attention in my child development class, and should have listened more; and my social hygiene/human sexuality class sure became beneficial once I got close to marriage. I now recognize classes I wish I would have taken, such as cooking, horticulture, economics, and even sewing!
But what about women like my sister-in-law, who is nearly finished with a PhD in chemistry while trying to raise her young family with my brother? Is her maybe-not-so-practical education helping her as a mom or is it a waste? She recently commented that maybe the content she’s studying isn’t so relevant to motherhood, yet the skills she’s learning have stretched her more than she could imagine, and will be very beneficial someday. Although she honestly shares that having two full-time working parents isn’t ideal for their little boys, her involvement in education does keep her happy. Most importantly, she feels she has been driven by the Spirit to be where she is.
So is it pointless to spend all that time and money to go to college if you’re just going to end up at home? No! There will always be something you can take away from it whether it be personal development or skills that transfer over to motherhood. Surely we would all benefit if we look at education not just as a means to get a job, but as a part of the process of becoming an enlightened individual.
Expanding the discussion:
- How do you use your college education as a stay-at-home mom now?
- What other ways do you obtain education now that you’re beyond your prime formal schooling years?
- If you were to go back to school, would you study the same topics you did the first time?
- Is college worth the expense when you just stay home?
Image credit: BYU