For many RM’s, one of the biggest challenges that comes after the mission is returning to school. Depending on when you choose to serve, you could be returning to college after already completing a few semesters of schoolwork, or just beginning in your pursuit of higher-level education. You’ve spent the last two years undergoing the most intense spiritual learning experience of your entire life, but now the time has come to learn a wide variety of secular topics (see D&C 88:78-79). No matter what you are choosing to study, there are sure to be challenges that you will face as you readjust to a college lifestyle. However, attending a college or university can also be one of the most enjoyable times of your life! The following tips will hopefully help ease the transition from the mission field back to school.
Let yourself ease back into classes.
It’s a good idea to not overload yourself with difficult classes or an extremely busy class schedule during your first semester back. Remember that you have just taken a two year or eighteen month long break from school, and so it may take a little time to get used to the rigorous amount of work and study demanded by college classes. Your first semester back from the mission is a good time to take a mix of general education classes and easier elective courses. If you have not yet decided on a major, this is also a good time to take introductory-level classes for subjects you think you may be interested in pursuing.
Budget your time.
College life is busy! Between classes and homework, church callings, a job (if you need/want one while going to school), and trying to have a social life, you will have a lot going on in your life. Be smart with your time and prioritize what is most important! Remember the planning skills you learned as a missionary to help budget your time so that you have adequate time to attend to your various responsibilities. Properly budgeting your time will greatly reduce stress as you try to navigate college life (especially if you give yourself enough time to sleep each night).
Keep up good spiritual habits you learned on your mission.
This doesn’t mean that you have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. every morning or that you have to avoid all non-church music! However, remembering to keep up the simple habits of daily prayer and scripture study will help you keep a spiritual anchor, especially when difficult times arise. Continue to set meaningful goals that will help you reach your desired outcomes (such as getting a good grade on a test, etc.) Regular temple attendance or other forms of service can also help provide peace and tranquility when other aspects of life seem overwhelming.
Remember to ask for the Lord’s help.
Hard times will certainly come while attending school. Never forget that you can rely on your Heavenly Father to help you in times of need. Just as He responded to your prayers while serving in the mission field, so too will He help you during the new challenges you face at school. The years that you spend in college also provide many life-changing decisions. While attending school, you decide on a major, a career path, and maybe even who you will marry. When faced with difficult decisions, remember to study it out yourself and ask the Lord for guidance to know what is best.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Even with everything else you have going on, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your time at college. Attending a college or university provides numerous social opportunities, be it interacting with other members of your YSA ward, attending sporting events, going on dates, or joining a club. If nothing else, give yourself some free time where you can relax and enjoy life. There are plenty of fun things you can do, just remember to look for and take advantage of these opportunities!