I attended college during late 80's and early 90's when University was a taboo, bad karma, unchristian, bad example...how could you do that. I endured myriads of “encouragements” to lure me away from “materialism.” When I moved to another congregation, I learned to downplay my full fledged student status and in silence I finished my school.
How many of you went to Universities when you were an active JW? How did you handle the harassment? If you decided to return to school after your left (inactivated yourself) JW, did having been a JW has any influence in deciding the major to go into?
I f this topic has been discussed before, forgive me......after all I am a newbie.
Welcome to the board, WhyNow.
I must say, I have a lot of respect for people like you who went to school while being active witnesses, both for your courage and for simply keeping up with your schoolwork with the amount of time that meetings et al. took up.
As for myself, I can't really say much about being a Witness college student, since I decided to leave the organization in November of my freshman year... but I did have to deal with other people during high school, when it became clear that I was going to go to college. It helps that my school's name sounds like it's "only" a technical school, and I played up the "need to get job training" idea, which seemed to work okay.
Of course, when I left my mom chocked it up to me being "distracted" with "higher learning". And suddenly I wasn't nearly as bright as I had been, back when I was in high school and still a model witness. It was just too much to expect her to understand that going away to college didn't make me leave the "truth", the organization made me leave the "truth", but oh well. Gives her something to blame, at least, besides me.
As far as choice of major goes, I think that all those years of saying I was going to get "job skills" and "necessary training" have caused me to study completely useless things :) (at least from a financial point of view). I'm currently a sophomore in physics, leaning toward geophysics, but who knows. Definitely planning on grad school to postpone entering the real world a bit longer, also.
I happened to enter college at almost exactly the time in 1992 when the Society published that Watchtower article conditionally OK'ing higher education. As a result, nobody in my congregation really got on my case. They were also able to see that I was regular in field service and at meetings, and was generally setting a good example and receiving "privileges" around the Hall.
I actually did two arts degrees, undergraduate and graduate with top marks all the way, and served as a ministerial servant for a couple of years toward the end.
The only type of harassment I got was periodically from people saying, "Well, what's the use of doing that? Is there any point in studying history or literature or art?" I would just point out that those were my aptitudes and that it enhanced my chances of getting some type of job. Sometimes, they'd sort of step back and say, "Oh, well, maybe it would help you write articles for Awake! someday." And in that light, it became acceptable to them. I didn't get too irritated by this debate, as long as it didn't come up too often, because I'd have similar discussions with people at university who were studying for science degrees and thought the humanities were useless frivolities.
But when I dealt with people from other congregations, I found that they tended to be less understanding and more toward the old "the time is short: shouldn't you be pioneering instead of wasting your time in institutions of higher learning controlled by Satan?" view. In those cases, I just tried to be polite and ignore them, feeling that they weren't reflecting the Society's true, balanced viewpoint as expressed in the latest publications. Some people I knew told me that if others were saying these things, it was just about local, parochial attitudes, not the Society. (But of course, where did they get those attitudes from? The Society's old publications. It wasn't as if other people in my urban area were constantly pooh-poohing the idea of college!)
Anyway, to sum up, I don't think the Witnesses I knew felt that college impacted negatively on my "spirituality." But again, I went at a time when it was probably more favorably looked on than it even is now (because it was "new light" then; just my guess).