For those of you not familiar with the LDS Church or who missed this weekend’s announcement, many LDS young people serve 18- to 24-month missions for their church. It used to be that young men had to be at least 19 years old, and young women had to be 21. But after this weekend, young men can leave at the age of 18 and young women at the age of 19. And who knows? It sounded as if more changes may be on the way once everyone figures out how this change is going to play out.
I’m blogging about this because these changes will have an effect on work and education. This is especially true for young women, who may now be more likely to go with these much-more-convenient age changes.
I don’t think anyone can predict the results perfectly. But, when I think specifically about women and education/work, it makes me wonder. So, this is me speculating. I don’t know which scenarios are most likely, but here are several possibilities I thought of:
- It could be easier for women to finish their educations since universities would probably look more kindly upon an older student starting out than a student who wants to interrupt their studies. In time-sensitive programs, a mission could be the kiss of death. This change gives women more latitude in choosing when they go and fitting their educations around a mission.
- If women are going to school at an older age, they might want to get married in their early twenties (LDS people statistically are more likely to marry younger than their peers) and still have lots of college/university left. This could make it harder for them to finish.
- This could ease financial burdens for some. More could take advantage of the church’s loan programs for missionaries returning to school, especially internationally.
- This could make it harder for others to afford to go to school. Missions are usually self-financed, so some will come back from their missions broke and then they’ll have to figure out a way to pay for school.
- This could increase returning missionaries’ incentive to get an education. For me at least, I saw some serious poverty when I was out teaching people. It made me want to make sure I was never stuck in that kind of situation.
- Missionary work teaches values and habits that can help with work and education. Here are just a few: working hard, helping people, a new language (in some cases), speaking in front of large groups of people, social skills, getting along with difficult people, presentation skills, confidence…the list goes on.