BYU is about Becoming More
I grew up part of the generation that was taught that a college education is the key to a better life. Family members and teachers stressed that obtaining a degree was my golden ticket into a fantasy land of opportunities, happiness, and most importantly, wealth. School counselors told us scary stories about those who didn’t go to college, and the social and financial calamities that they were destined to befall. At 18 years old I panicked, trying to decide where to go to school, what to study and what I ultimately wanted to become. The stress I felt as I approached high school graduation was intense, and during the last few years that panic has returned to visit me from time to time. On these occasions, I’ve had to ask myself: “Is any of this really worth it?” I’ve come to conclude that the answer is a solid maybe.
In many cases, I believe the mentors of my youth were right: a college education does provide professional opportunities and income brackets that are hard to come by otherwise. But I don’t believe that the value of higher education stops there, or that all diplomas are created equal. On the contrary, I feel that the value of a college education is only as meaningful as the principles a school instills in its students. Many universities espouse academic goals and codes of ethics, comprised of principles like honesty, respect and the pursuit of knowledge. Surely there are countless avenues for the prospective college student to choose from. Today, though, I hope to express my appreciation for the unique aims of an education from Brigham Young University.
The Aims of a BYU Education
BYU’s mission statement provides four official aims they wish each student will achieve throughout their time at the University. These are:
- Spiritually Strengthening
- Intellectually Enlarging
- Character Building
- Leading to Lifelong Learning and Service
Spiritually Strengthening: BYU is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as such, strives to aid students in building their testimonies and becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. Students take a certain number of religious classes before they graduate which take an academic approach to the doctrines and teachings of our religion and others alike. While the majority of other coursework is secular, BYU’s mission statement teaches that “...subject matter [should be] bathed in the light and color of the restored gospel.” Personally, I believe that the study of created things glorifies the Creator of all things. I feel that in gaining my education that I have exercised the mind that God gave me and intended for me to use.
Intellectually Enlarging: The next aim may seem obvious, but it’s one that I feel BYU excels at providing to its students. A BYU undergraduate education is designed to be intellectually enlarging by teaching skills (such as sound thinking, effective communication, and quantitative reasoning), a wide breadth of subjects, as well as depth of a chosen major. While at BYU I’ve had the opportunity to study music theory, sociology, literature, psychology and world religions in addition to my public relations and business courses. I feel that this experience has provided me with the perfect balance of specialization and well-roundedness.
Character Building: The third and fourth aims are the ones I find to be the most unique. My classes at BYU have not shied away from approaching difficult subjects such as morality, spirituality and ethics. Our Christian faith has influenced my education as I’ve learned to pursue truth, integrity and kindness in all my earthly endeavors, no matter how unpopular it may be. While sometimes controversial in its enforcement, BYU’s Honor Code has taught me to always be honest, respect others and commit myself to a higher standard. My public relations professors have taught me that there will likely be a time in my career where I am faced with a decision between doing what is honest or morally right versus doing what will keep me or others out of trouble. Studying communications has taught me how vital it is to be transparent and forthcoming in order to be an ethical organization, and I believe that is largely due to the commitment of my professors to promote BYU’s educational aims.
Leading to Lifelong Learning and Service: During my time at school I’ve had the opportunity to work on several internships and mentored research teams. These experiences have caused me to continually be asking questions and seeking answers. Why are we doing it this way? How could we make this better? What should we do next? I believe that this is a habit I’ll maintain throughout my life. BYU’s official slogan is “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” My goal is to continually ask questions about how I can help others as well. Whom can I serve today? What talents or blessings have I not shared? How can I lighten my neighbor’s burdens?
My experience at Brigham Young University has provided me with so much more than my name on a sheet of cardstock. The answer to my recurring question of worth is a resounding yes. I entered as a nervous 18-year-old, unsure of myself or my future. Soon I will be leaving not only as a skilled communicator and capable adult, but also as a well-rounded, charitable human being. It was here that I learned who I am, it was here that I met my husband and many dear friends, it was here that I found my path in life and learned who I could become. Sure, my guidance counselors were right; I now have what the recruiters want. But I’ve also learned how to become the kind of person I’d like to be—and that is far more important to me.