Those who went to University whilst being a JW

by MMXIV 21 Replies latest jw experiences


    I've read a number of posts in the brief couple of years I've been on JWN of those that were brave enough to go to university whilst being a JW.

    Clearly this is a small fraction of those that wanted to go but couldn't or had the grades to go but accepted pioneering instead.

    For those that did go to Uni despite all the advice and pressure, why did you go? What was the response when you broke the news? How did it affect your relationships? How did the course/ teachers/ students differ from your expectations or picture painted by the WBTS? Did you continue to go to meetings and what sort of comments did you hear about higher education?



  • RubaDub

    Even with my father and grandfather as elders, not a big issue. The reason: I could simply commute to the University.

    I lived at home with my parents. From the standpoint of the congregation, nothing changed. I was still at the meetings, going out in service, etc. Nothing really different than when I went to high school. And since it was nearly 10 years after 1975, there was no Armegeddon and we would need to earn a living. In fact several of the elders that worked in construction (masons, flooring, tile, etc) told me to use my smarts instead of working and wearing out their bodies as they had done (bad knees, legs, etc).

    However, if I had moved out of the house to go to school ... I'm sure the poop would have hit the fan.

    Rub a Dub

  • sir82

    I am in the US, and I went to a 4-year university in the mid-80's.

    why did you go?

    My parents, particularly my mother, encouraged me, and I really wanted to go too. I had the grades to get sufficient scholarships such that it was nearly a free ride. It was a nearby university -- I lived at home all 4 years and commuted.

    What was the response when you broke the news?

    Response from whom - the congregation? No one really said much. I didn't proudly proclaim it to anyone either, though. It was rather a "don't ask, don't tell" situation. It probably helped that other kids, whose fathers were prominent elders, also went to university (though I am unclear if they finished their degrees as I did).

    How did it affect your relationships?

    Again, with whom? My friends / peers who did not go to college were I think a bit jealous, but then again few of them were really "college material" to begin with. I didn't get any real "special privileges" during that time, but I was not ostracized either. As noted, it was "don't ask, don't tell".

    How did the course/ teachers/ students differ from your expectations or picture painted by the WBTS?

    Living off campus & commuting, I really didn't have much in the way of relationships with fellow students. I was an all-in believer at the time, and I do remember making the comment, after taking a course in philosophy, that the course had "actually strengthened my faith", since "philosophers were groping about looking for answers, but we have the truth" (yes I was that idiotic).

    Did you continue to go to meetings and what sort of comments did you hear about higher education?

    I attended meetings all 4 years, and missed no more than 3 or 4 meetings during all 4 years due to schoolwork. The mid-80's was a time of frequent and strident anti-education messages, particularly at assemblies & conventions. I recall feeling guilty. At one point I was going to quit school & start pioneering, but my mother (in one of her greatest contributions to my life) convinced me to stick with school & graduate, which I did.

    I was appointed as elder about 8 years after graduating. Even in my "all-in" phase as an elder, I never ever discouraged higher education to anyone.


    That's very interesting RubaDub - so it didn't create a big issue to go to Uni because you effectively stayed in the JW community and under the eye of your parents. From the trades people that's a pretty decent outlook too.

    With 25 years hindsight I hope you found Uni worthwhile.



    Sir82 - commuting to Uni and a supportive parent - sounds like the ingredients that were more acceptable in the congregation. Well done for finishing - you certainly had enough reasons to justify dropping out.

    I heard a lot of the anti-education messages during the eighties and they didn't seem to let up during the nineties or naughties.

  • gingerbread

    My Bachelors degree has opened all the doors for all of my employment. Even though I hold a liberal arts degree, having that piece of paper increases ones hire-ability, will give you a higher income, decreases the chance of becoming unemployed and allows one to work in a field that you naturally enjoy. Statistical evidence shows this to be true.

    I was raised in the "truth" and was encouraged to get a degree. Even though my degree didn't (at the time) seem practical - from a financial point of view, my parents allowed me to pursue what I wanted. I lived at home and commuted - which made great economic sense. My parents took a lot of pressure from a couple of elders and circuit overseers. I lost my high school JW girlfriend - her parents didn't want her supporting me while I was going to college. They thought I should "get a job" and we should get married. Within a year she "bolted", got DF'ed and married a dude from town.

    While I was in school, I was taken off the all the "list" to read during the book study, watchtower, handle the mic or run the sound box. But I was always asked to help with hall repairs or yard/landscape work and maintenance. I took myself off that list during my sophomore year.

    As you get close to graduation day, you will find that almost all of the single sisters (and their mothers) will soon view you as fine marriage material - especially if you've lived at home and have been regular at meetings. Look out!

  • RubaDub
    With 25 years hindsight I hope you found Uni worthwhile.

    MMXIV ...

    Definitely. I later got a masters degree at night/weekends. It has certainly helped me and opened many doors that otherwise may not have been available.

    I think the way you present it has a lot to do with how some will view it in the congregation. I never gloated about being in college, in fact,when asked, I generally told people that I was "taking courses" at the college. I also made sure that my service time was at or above what I had done before so noone could make the accusation that college was affecting me spiritually.

    All in all, by playing it down and not making a big deal of it I never really had a problem at all. And looking back, I'm so glad I did.

    Rub a Dub

  • StephaneLaliberte

    I went to university in the 90s and actually had a very good reputation in the kingdom hall. Yes, there were jealous, talks and comments discouraging university, but I kept a good standing in the congregation by auxiliary pioneering every now and then.

    As for my experience over there, well, I have to admit that I didn’t like the overall attitude of the kids that went along with me… they had this “we’re better than the rest” attitude and I hated it.

    There is one thing I can say though: I had the luxury of living with my parents at the time and didn’t see much difference between this or high school. So, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was. On the other hand, if I hadn’t lived with my parents, I’m not sure I would have remained a virgin. Yes, I was spiritual, but I was still a man. If I didn’t have to report home everyday… well, I wouldn’t have resisted.

    That being said, I can’t transpose MY experience onto others. So, if a kid goes out of the city to university, I won’t judge. But I can understand why the Org is counseling against it in that perspective alone.

  • wisdomfrombelow

    I went to a college and lived on campus and met other JWs there. We had our own clique and were mostly very vocal in favor of higher education. The locals in the hall we attended could do nothing because they didn't know us as children and we just popped up as 18 years olds moving into their congregation. Either they embrace you or they shun you but because you live on campus they have no access to you unless you want them to. For those who were local I believe it was a positive influence because many of them went to college (but didn't announce it). We had nothing to hide because the only reason we were at the congregation was because we were going to college.


    Rub a Dub - good advice - taking courses were sometimes even recommended by the society (if it helped getting employment to pioneer) and viewed very differently to "going to university".

    Gingerbread - so you got taken off all meaningful priveledges (even sisters are allowed to do landscaping so can't really be called a priveledge) - hope you managed to handle your new found eligibility as fine marriage material!

    So anyone thinking it's impossible to go to Uni - receptive parents, commuting to Uni and going to meetings seems a tolerated method of getting a degree errr I mean taking some college courses ;-)


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