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Younger LDS mission age & being a partciapant observer


silverspoons

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I'm really having a hard time living in a community and watching this new younger LDS mission age and what is happening.

 

I have tried to see the any positives. The only one I see is that my kids have alot more educational oppurtunites/scholarships available now.

 

On top of the constant news stories about early high school graduations(the one that bothered me the most was one where all kids opened their mission letters at the graduation cermony), parties where kids open the big calling letter together, and stories of beaming parents/grandparents sending their kids off. I literally can't read any newspaper, even the school newpaper or the coupon flyer they drop off weekly without a mission story. It has never been like this before. There would normally be a section, like the wedding annoucements that said where kids were called to. Now it is constant front page news that parents are so happy there 18 year old is skipping college for a mission.

 

Unlike some other religions, the LDS have high expectations in grades K-12. The kids are pushed not only to high grades, but to play multiple instruments, be in after school activites, and be good at sports. Now that the age is 18(and with the cut off forschool being so early) almost every student is 18 after graduating high school. I am watching so many kids, alot are girls giving up there full scholarships to go on missions. I think I just about lost it last night when a girl I have known for 10 years got her call. I remember her dreams as an elementray school student. She wanted to be a physical therapist after an accident. She worked so hard in school, was captian of several sports teams, played violin, and had a 4.0. She got a full scholarship and a spot (there are only 4 a year with 100's of applicants) in the PT program. She deicded to give it up (after alot of pressure from peers not as much from family..because her family is cheap, I remember I paid her sports fees a few years so she could play..it wil cost the family $400 a month for the mission and college was free). She will lose her scholarship and will not have a space in the PT program and unlikely with such large applicant pool they would ever readmit. I know maybe she will go elsewhere to school in 2 years but with the added peer pressure of marriage before 25, preferably by 22 I don't know.

 

Now I look at my daughters friends. My daughter is gifted program and the girls in her group are so smart and work so hard. Now there is so much talk about going on a mission instead of college. One very smart girl said last night if I don't go on a mission I want to go to that Idaho find a husband college (Ricks, BYU -I). I understand college is not for everyone. It just frustrates me when these girls(and boys) are doing advanced algebra/geometry at 9-10, winning science fairs, and have so much potential and then I see the PT girl who was just like them a few years ago throwing away everything for a mission. A mission to OK, so it is not like she is even going to learn a language or even go to another region of the US.

 

I also found out the number of mission applicants is so high they are laying off at local colleges in smaller Utah cities. My cousin's wife found out she will only have one summer class and will not be returning for 2013-14 year as a bio professor. the enrollement is down 15-30% at these school but they hope that is 2-3 years when the first groups are back they can rehire. Since most Utah colleges do not have many dorms, getting out of state students is hard even though the tutition is so low. It is a known fact that at least 50% of kids that go on mission either decide to leave Utah for college or change plans.

 

I came to Utah to write my thesis years ago and now I'm stuck here (due to a serious health issue). I just do not know how to watch without getting upset about what I am seeing. Maybe it is because missions are really unproductive, at least in the US. It is also a big financial strain on families. Now it is going to have a financial impact on communites with college layoffs. All for converting people that over 97% will never attend LDS church after 1 year??

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Interesting stuff. I don't know much about the LDS church. Why is there a push to lower the age at which kids go on missions? Also, I would think that the LDS colleges at least would allow students to defer scholarships and admittances on the basis of mission work?

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Interesting stuff. I don't know much about the LDS church. Why is there a push to lower the age at which kids go on missions? Also, I would think that the LDS colleges at least would allow students to defer scholarships and admittances on the basis of mission work?

The mission age was changed for 2 reasons, to increase the number of women to go on missions and to get more missionaires out asap. There is only one LDS University in Utah, BYU and they do work with missionaries and scholarships. BYU is actually getting harder and harder to get into because of so much comptetion as the convert students from overseas.

Utah has an automatic scholarship program for high school students that take rigourous course of study and get a high GPA. This is good at state schools and you have to start college within 12 months of graduating and be continously enrolled. Alot of kids I knew got this scholarship, in fact it is very common by 16 to start taking some college classes while in high school (our high school has a branch of our local college inside, so kids don't have to drive to take college classes). It gives kids from larger families free tution and books and kids often live at home. There are colleges in almost every decent size communities. It means most kids had the chnace if they worked hard to pay nothing out of pocket. Careers picked are usually practical, teaching, nursing, something that will allow the kids to stay within the community and raise a family.

Federal Financial aid has to be paid back during a mission. I went to a liberal back east college and I was surprised when a girl in my dorm went on a mission during her senior year. Not only did she have to save for the mission, she had to make payments on her student loans, and reapply to get back into college. The earlier age would help those not going to college in Utah because if they leave before college they aviod this student loan mess but with good students with a free ride vs loans..it is a hard choice in this economy. I had my BIL stay with us during his last 2 years of high school to get 4 free years at U of U. He didn't enjoy his time too much here but was very happy to have no loans and a good education and has a wonderful engineering job now.

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Hi Silverspoons. I remember reading in another thread you wrote that you considered your community very strict LDS, trying to adhere to "1980s standards" or something like that. Could you expound on that a little? What do you mean by 1980s LDS standards? I grew up in California in the 80s, many of my friends were Mormons (not me) and they just seemed normal. I know that is from a kid's perspective, but I would go to their homes to play, have sleep-overs, etc and it seemed normal except that they had a couple more kids than other families (well, there was one family that had 9). Also, I realize that Utah is its own ball of wax, and from what I've read Mormons there are different from Mormons other places?

Do you see this as changing the entire culture of Utah? Mormons (at least the ones I knew) really seem to value educational achievement. The guys will probably come back from their missions and still go to college. Do you think it is the girls who won't? The girls I knew all went to BYU and it was a big deal to their families. I know one who got married while in school and they lived in Married Student Housing while they both finished their degrees. Is it common for Utah-Mormon girls to drop out of college when they marry?

Your insight as an outsider/insider to the whole Utah-Mormon thing is very much appreciated!

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Do you see this as changing the entire culture of Utah? Mormons (at least the ones I knew) really seem to value educational achievement. The guys will probably come back from their missions and still go to college. Do you think it is the girls who won't? The girls I knew all went to BYU and it was a big deal to their families. I know one who got married while in school and they lived in Married Student Housing while they both finished their degrees. Is it common for Utah-Mormon girls to drop out of college when they marry?

I'm not Mormon but from what I understand, it's common for guys to go on missions and come back to finish college. BYU, and perhaps the Utah culture, seem to encourage their guys to finish school and enter professions. I hear that while girls are also encouraged to get an education, there is more pressure to marry early and have many children. My concern with the lowering of the age is that girls would prioritize mission and marriage over education. The extra 18mo spent could cause marriage-minded girls to return, marry and start families immediately so to 'catch up' on lost time. College could be squeezed out or given lower priority. This wouldn't be such an issue if girls were not so pressured to start families early. This wouldn't even be an issue if education wasn't so important in so many careers. Girls may see their future mobility limited if the skipped out on career and education early on.

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I'm not Mormon but from what I understand, it's common for guys to go on missions and come back to finish college. BYU, and perhaps the Utah culture, seem to encourage their guys to finish school and enter professions. I hear that while girls are also encouraged to get an education, there is more pressure to marry early and have many children. My concern with the lowering of the age is that girls would prioritize mission and marriage over education. The extra 18mo spent could cause marriage-minded girls to return, marry and start families immediately so to 'catch up' on lost time. College could be squeezed out or given lower priority. This wouldn't be such an issue if girls were not so pressured to start families early. This wouldn't even be an issue if education wasn't so important in so many careers. Girls may see their future mobility limited if the skipped out on career and education early on.

I've also heard that while Mormonism values education for girls, it's mostly done for a backup plan in case something happens to the husband and he's not able to work. It seems like the only really acceptable profession for Mormon women is teaching, or doing part time work so that when their kids get done with school, the mother is home. After all, the highest goal for Mormon women is to be a wife and mother. I do think that with the missionary age being lowered, girls won't get a college education as much as before, since they'll be pressured to go on a mission, then as soon as they're done, they'll be pressured to get married right away and start having children.

I've seen it with my youngest step sister who was originally going into nursing, but she only went to a single semester of college, and is expected to go on her mission this spring. As soon as the announcement was made, she put in her paperwork since by the time it was fully processed, she was 19. The thing is that with her, she has a boyfriend already on his mission, so by the time both of them are done, there's going to be intense pressure for them to get married, so at this rate, she's going to be married before she's 22. She'll most likely forget about nursing school since her boyfriend's family is actually wealthy and they might get them set up so she can start having children right away. My guess is that things like this are why more women don't leave the Mormon church, because by the time they might even think about it, they have children and not much education or job experience to get away, just like the fundies we snark about.

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I'm not Mormon but from what I understand, it's common for guys to go on missions and come back to finish college. BYU, and perhaps the Utah culture, seem to encourage their guys to finish school and enter professions. I hear that while girls are also encouraged to get an education, there is more pressure to marry early and have many children. My concern with the lowering of the age is that girls would prioritize mission and marriage over education. The extra 18mo spent could cause marriage-minded girls to return, marry and start families immediately so to 'catch up' on lost time. College could be squeezed out or given lower priority. This wouldn't be such an issue if girls were not so pressured to start families early. This wouldn't even be an issue if education wasn't so important in so many careers. Girls may see their future mobility limited if the skipped out on career and education early on.

Exactly. A mormon male's education is valued (his wife will often work to support him as he gets his college degree), but a woman's degree is bonus at best. I believe Utah (my homestate as well, though I have no Mormon roots) women have one of the lowest college grad rates in the country. A Mormon woman used to at least get a college degree (or most of one) under her belt before she left on a mission at age 21; now, she can go on a mission at 19, get married almost immediately upon arrival home (at 20.5 yrs old), and begin procreating hastily. All before she would have even left for the mission in the old days.

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My best friend for nearly 40 years is LDS. She was talking about how wonderful the new lower age is, but she didn't give a reason. Her younger son is 19 & just left on his mission to Tonga (yes, Tonga! wtf?) and her older daughter is planning on going right after graduation. They seem to think it's great to be able to get the mission out of the way before college.

My friend married at 18 during her first semester of college at BYU and has 4 kids. She always told me education/achievement was pushed for both boys & girls so they would be productive & useful in the afterlife.

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Her younger son is 19 & just left on his mission to Tonga (yes, Tonga! wtf?)

Half the Tongan population is supposedly LDS.

An extremely high amount of those are inactive or "in name only" members though so they send missionaries to try and shame and harass them into becoming active.

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The female graduation rates thing is really sad. I found this when googling:

Utah has the largest gap in the nation between male and female college-graduation rates, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services. The difference for college-educated Utah men and Utah women was 6.0 percentage points. New Jersey showed the next highest gap at 2.7 percentage points, while the national average was 1.3 percentage points.

Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/8655 ... tml?pg=all

I imagine it's going to get worse with the changes in missionary age.

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The female graduation rates thing is really sad. I found this when googling:

I imagine it's going to get worse with the changes in missionary age.

That's really sad. It's interesting that the LDS church talks the talk about prizing education and encouraging women to be educated as a backup plan but the results say differently. The problem with backup plan is that it will always take a back seat to life's other priorities. In other words, when I tell girls that marriage and motherhood is really important, and oh yeah, college is great because you may use it....well, what do you think will happen? I think the church needs to get with the 21st century and realize that motherhood and marriage is not the end all of a women's life. More importantly, one can be a good mother and wife AND have a career. And most importantly, a mother's priority should be providing for their kids. Those little humans are now one accident/death/divorce away from destitution if mom isn't well prepared to enter the workforce.

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Half the Tongan population is supposedly LDS.

An extremely high amount of those are inactive or "in name only" members though so they send missionaries to try and shame and harass them into becoming active.

I watched The Other Side of Heaven a few weeks ago. It's based upon the autobiography of a Mormon missionary sent to Tonga in the 1950s.

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I watched The Other Side of Heaven a few weeks ago. It's based upon the autobiography of a Mormon missionary sent to Tonga in the 1950s.

There are huge LDS populations in Samoa, Soloman Islands etc,

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I've always had a pet theory that the send these young people out far from home to get doors slammed in their faces so often and so hard that they really believe the outside world is a horrible, horrible place. So when they return to Utah (or wherever) they are so pleased to be loved on return of their mission they are compliant and grateful. Ripe to be married off due to shellshock. It would explain why they don't give a shit about the retention rate (3% wtf!)

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I've always had a pet theory that the send these young people out far from home to get doors slammed in their faces so often and so hard that they really believe the outside world is a horrible, horrible place. So when they return to Utah (or wherever) they are so pleased to be loved on return of their mission they are compliant and grateful. Ripe to be married off due to shellshock. It would explain why they don't give a shit about the retention rate (3% wtf!)

I've always felt the same way. There's an apartment complex near me that rents some units to young men on missions. It always amazes me to see them going in and out of the building since I live in the Boston area so it's not like they have to import Mormons. Why pressure young people to go through the expense and commitment of a mission when they could have people who live nearby continue their education and try to get converts like it's a part time job? If the commitment and sacrifice involved in a mission is what they care about then why not have a peace corp type programs where they do something more productive to help others? I'm not at all religious but proving you want to follow Jesus's example by feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, etc would be a far more effective way to get converts then having young men and women interupt their lives to knock on people's doors or stop them in the streets.

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I've also heard that while Mormonism values education for girls, it's mostly done for a backup plan in case something happens to the husband and he's not able to work. It seems like the only really acceptable profession for Mormon women is teaching, or doing part time work so that when their kids get done with school, the mother is home. After all, the highest goal for Mormon women is to be a wife and mother. I do think that with the missionary age being lowered, girls won't get a college education as much as before, since they'll be pressured to go on a mission, then as soon as they're done, they'll be pressured to get married right away and start having children.

I've seen it with my youngest step sister who was originally going into nursing, but she only went to a single semester of college, and is expected to go on her mission this spring. As soon as the announcement was made, she put in her paperwork since by the time it was fully processed, she was 19. The thing is that with her, she has a boyfriend already on his mission, so by the time both of them are done, there's going to be intense pressure for them to get married, so at this rate, she's going to be married before she's 22. She'll most likely forget about nursing school since her boyfriend's family is actually wealthy and they might get them set up so she can start having children right away. My guess is that things like this are why more women don't leave the Mormon church, because by the time they might even think about it, they have children and not much education or job experience to get away, just like the fundies we snark about.

I have noticed the same thing in Mormon communities with education and women. Like you said it is mostly done as a backup plan. I have read Mormon blogs, where bloggers straight up admit they mostly went to college in order to have a backup plan. My pet Mormon Heather at Paralyzed With Joy was going to nursing school before she became severely disabled. She admitted on her blog that she was mostly going to nursing school so she could have a degree and work before marrying having kids.

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What is the profit margin from these missions for the LDS church management? I think I remember reading somewhere that lowering the age was related to a need to increase revenue (a short term solution of course, as it only increases numbers for the next 4 years). What are your thoughts on that? Sad, but not surprising, if money for the church is being prioritized over education for a family.

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What is the profit margin from these missions for the LDS church management? I think I remember reading somewhere that lowering the age was related to a need to increase revenue (a short term solution of course, as it only increases numbers for the next 4 years). What are your thoughts on that? Sad, but not surprising, if money for the church is being prioritized over education for a family.

I'm not sure at all about margin, but a mission costs approximately 500 dollars per month (the missionary or family of missionary pays), for two years for men and for 18 months for women.

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I'm not sure at all about margin, but a mission costs approximately 500 dollars per month (the missionary or family of missionary pays), for two years for men and for 18 months for women.

I haven't a clue about Mormon missions as its not a common faith here. Does the family pay the money to the church or how does it work? Suppose you don't have the funds, what happens?

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I haven't a clue about Mormon missions as its not a common faith here. Does the family pay the money to the church or how does it work? Suppose you don't have the funds, what happens?

I have heard that some families start saving up years in advance to pay for the mission and I also recall hearing that the LDS church has some kind of assistance program to help pay for some of the costs. There are some LDS families where none of the children go on missions because they were never able to save up for different reasons. Sometimes missions are more common with some of the wealthier Mormon families.

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I've always felt the same way. There's an apartment complex near me that rents some units to young men on missions. It always amazes me to see them going in and out of the building since I live in the Boston area so it's not like they have to import Mormons. Why pressure young people to go through the expense and commitment of a mission when they could have people who live nearby continue their education and try to get converts like it's a part time job? If the commitment and sacrifice involved in a mission is what they care about then why not have a peace corp type programs where they do something more productive to help others? I'm not at all religious but proving you want to follow Jesus's example by feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, etc would be a far more effective way to get converts then having young men and women interupt their lives to knock on people's doors or stop them in the streets.

Agree. it seems so unkind and not very cost

effective. I lived in a not so great area as a student and lds missionaries would door knock all the time. I felt so bad because there were lots of white witches and jedi followers and they were terribly mean to the missionaries. I always tried to be nice and talk to them but in a way that was just giving them false hopes of a conversion.

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