Monday, May 11, 2009
Education: The advantage in this life and the next
Life has a funny way of putting people in situations they didn’t expect to be in. Being prepared helps people survive, and sometimes thrive, in those situations. Getting an education is one of the tenets of provident living and becoming self-sufficient.
Let me introduce you to my college roommates. Twenty-two years ago, I met three fabulous women: Karen, JoLynn, and Cheryl. We were brand new freshmen at BYU and full of dreams and expectations. We were getting our education because we thought it was important, but I’m not sure any of us fully expected that we would ever really need to use our college degrees or training. We all planned to marry, have kids, and stay home with those kids, as we had been taught and as we believed was God’s plan for us. We all graduated from BYU: one in musical-dance theater, one in accounting, one in biology, and one in communications. Then, life happened.
Three of us did get married and did have kids. Cheryl never did; she ended up relying on her education to support herself. Another roommate, Karen, found herself on her own, with three small children, after an unexpected divorce. She used her education to get a job that paid enough to support herself and her children. JoLynn remained married and had five wonderful children. Her husband had a good job, but she was able to work from home and use her accounting degree to help family, friends and others with their tax returns every year, providing money for extra opportunities for her children, such as harp lessons and family vacations. I’m also married, with two great kids, but over the years, I have had to use my education to work in and out of the home, depending on my husband’s employment situation, which has had its ups and downs. Where would the four of us have found ourselves if we didn’t have our education to fall back on?
Now, even though I teach at the college, I don’t believe college is for everyone. However, education is for everyone, whether it’s formal training, a college degree, or self-taught skills.
Sister Camilla Kimball said, “What we must be concerned with is preparation for life, and that preparation is continuing education. Whether it is to earn a living or to rear a family, men and women both need to have the knowledge that enhances their natural talents” (address at Spencer W. Kimball Tower dedication, Brigham Young University, 9 Mar. 1982).
Sister Ardeth G. Kapp added, “Preparation for life is for young women who marry and those who may never marry. It’s for women who will have children to help educate and others who will not. It’s for women who will need to support themselves and their children at some time in their lives. For some of us, this may mean going to college or a trade school. To others, it may mean home study. To all of us, it means looking at the long-term goal of making education a lifelong process, not just a two- or four-year event after high school called ‘higher education.’ One might ask, does pursuing an education contradict our goal to marry and have a family? Definitely not! We need to be educated for our families as well as ourselves!” (“The Treasure You Will Take With You,” New Era, Jan 1985, 9.)
We will be better women and more useful members of the church if we are educated. D&C 130:18-19 says, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” I would add that the person will also have so much the advantage in this world.
I think again of four fresh-faced college girls embarking on an educational path that would lead them to destinations unseen and unthought-of at the time. We didn’t know what life held in store for us, and we didn’t know how much we would need the education we were about to gain. How grateful we’ve been for wise counsel from a prophet, leaders, and parents who encouraged us to learn.
Take time now to squeeze a little learning into your day; find a way to finish your education if you need to or search for training opportunities to better prepare yourself to support yourself and your family should you need to. Education is truly a treasure, an advantage, which will bless you in this life and the next.