Seminary and Youth

Sometimes the church releases results of internal studies which are conducted to determine what is effective and what is not effective in the effort to help our young men and women live up to church standards and make the transition into adulthood as active members.  Invariably the studies reach the conclusion that parents and home life are the major determining factor.  Ironically, in our efforts to emphasize the importance of home and family, we simultaneously reduce the importance of the various church youth programs.

In December, 1984, the Ensign published the results of a study entitled Key to Strong Young Men: Gospel Commitment in the Home. We know very little about the research methodology so it is hard to evaluate the validity of the conclusions, but the study found that:

. . . there were two factors which had the largest influence on whether young men desired to be morally clean, serve a mission, and marry in the temple. These were religious activity in the home (family prayer, family home evening, family scripture study), and agreement with parents on values and on goals for the future. In fact, these two things were found to have a greater influence than all other factors combined.

There is also another paragraph that should be a great comfort to tenderfoot scouts and working mothers:

Some factors have little effect on whether a young man marries in the temple or goes on a mission: the distance he lives away from the meetinghouse, the number of young people in his school who are LDS, whether his parents were converts, his father’s occupation, or whether his mother is employed. Characteristics of the ward’s activity program—whether the ward sponsors athletic teams and events, schedules “special” activities for youth, or implements Scout programs—while contributing to the general spirit of the ward, seem to have little effect in and of themselves.

How are we to understand these results, given the church’s emphasis on scouting and the importance of mothers in the home?

Another study, more recent and more rigorous, was conducted by professors at BYU.  You can find the link here. This study compared the success of LDS young men and young women in living various gospel standards, such as the word of wisdom, honesty, and the law of chastity. The surveys were administered to seminary students in three different geographic areas: the West coast (Seattle and Portland), Utah valley(Provo/Orem area), and the East coast(Delaware, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.). The respondents were all enrolled in seminary, some in released time, some in early morning, and some in home study.

The results speak for themselves.  LDS youth are a pretty generic bunch, and they live the gospel as well in big, wicked cities on either coast as well as they do in the Provo first ward.  The fascinating question, in my opinion, is this:  Why do we continue to invest such large amounts of time and money in released time and early morning seminary when the data show that home study works just as well?

Comments

  1. What percentages of LDS youth in Provo are enrolled in seminary compared to LDS youth in eastern cities enrolled in home study seminary? I wonder if the answer to that might be a reason to continue to invest in released time seminary programs.

  2. Mark Brown says:

    That could very well be the case, E., and I wish CES were more forthcoming with that sort of information.

    Still, though, I think enrollment in seminary is more a function of parental input than it is one of choice exercised by a young person.

  3. Because home study is tediously boring unless you happen to be a youth who is interested in studying the scriptures for and by yourself. I went through all 4 years of seminary in home study. I could do the week’s worth of homework in the car on the 20 minute ride to church each week – look up the scripture listed and fill in the blank, move on to the next one. I don’t remember anything from class either. I would have given a whole lot to have other members my age nearby and to have early morning seminary. The social aspect can seem very important when you don’t have it. Granted, there are youth who can get a lot of home study seminary, but I think I would have gotten much more out of it by listening to a lesson each day and having discussions with other mormon youth.

    All of the programs in the church are a means to an end.
    The end can be reached without any of those means, at times. How do we even know that seminary is the reason for the youth activity rate? Perhaps the percentages would be the same even for those youth not in seminary. Some make it, some don’t. My conversion didn’t have anything to do with seminary, personally.

  4. Mark Brown says:

    jab, the data suggest that seminary has very little to do with youth activity rates. And it is certainly true that some youth thrive in an atmosphere that has a social aspect, but it is just as true that others are left out. When we look at the aggregate, however, it seems to be immaterial.

  5. I’m skeptical they have good stats on home study, as I am skeptical kids would really do it in droves. It’s a social thing.

  6. Mark, is there an element of self-selection in home-study seminary students that might skew the numbers? I believe there is a significant percentage of seminary students in my area who function well in the social setting that is early morning seminary, but who would flounder and learn far less at home – since they would lack the discipline to do it on their own and their parent(s) don’t have the proper time or knowledge to teach them.

    Look at Scouting. Those with strong parental or ward organizational support do well; those without such support never go anywhere. I would hate to see that happen to Seminary; it does way too much good for too many who would not get it in any other way, imo.

  7. Mark Brown says:

    I agree, Ray, that self-selection plays a role here, although we probably differ as to the degree. I find it curious that we assert the primacy of home and family on one hand, and with the other hold out scouting and seminary as the solution.

    Is there enough of a difference between the results achieved by released time seminary and early A.M. seminary to warrant the enourmous expenditure of money? A seminary at a medium-sized high school on the Wasatch front has 6 teachers and some admin support, as well as janitorial services, grounds, etc. The direct cost in salaries, benefits, taxes, etc. could easily reach $400,000 per annum for a single school. If the studies published in the Ensign are anywhere near correct, that seems like overkill.

    As for scouting, I think the first study I cited makes it pretty clear that it just isn’t that important either way.

  8. Mark, I didn’t read it as either released time or early morning. I read it as either home study or other alternatives. Personally, I would have no problem at all eliminating released time and doing only early morning and home study.

  9. Also, if Scouting was eliminated tomorrow, I would not shed a tear. It would allow more time to focus on Duty to God, which I like much more than Scouting.

  10. I think the problem is that the concern of the Church is not just to increase activity rates, but to provide a lifestyle worth living to its members.

    The premise of this blog post would have us think that activity numbers are the only thing we should pursue or care about in the Church.

  11. Mark Brown says:

    Hmm. I must have miscommunicated, Seth.

    It seems to me that missions and temple marriages are things that are worth caring about, wouldn’t you agree? And therefore I think we should be interested in what leads to those outcomes.

    And I have just never heard anybody make the case that scouts and seminary are implemented for the purpose of “providing a lifestyle worth living”. They are instead constantly billed as the only things standing between our youth and the evils of the world, and yet the church’s own data contradict that assumption. The purpose of this post is to explore that tension, and to attempt to resolve it.

  12. I think the problem with the “lifestyle” argument is that youth who don’t enjoy or benefit from the programs are considered less-active or problems to fix, even if they attend church every Sunday and are faithfully reading scriptures and having personal prayer at home.

    Early morning seminary was a nightmare for my daughter, and a difficult challenge for my son. Home study is not a permissable option under our local CES policy. Maybe the younger kid will enjoy it when he gets to be that age, but if not, it is not a battle I have any interest at all in fighting.

  13. Larry the cable guy says:

    While the church must be prudent in not competing unduly with family activities, I suspect that CES isn’t stepping on too many toes by getting the youth in the early morning or during school. In fact, some overkill might be in order so as to maximize the investment dollars that Mark notes above.

    Many youth could thrive regardless of the nature of their seminary organization, or even in it’s absence. But for the marjority of kids in the middle of the activity bell curve, the seminary program is more meaningful (to them, perhaps not their parents) because of its social component and full-time instructors.

  14. When I attending released time seminary in the 1980′s, I believe almost 100% of the LDS kids in my high school enrolled in seminary. This included the kids from less-active families, many of whom may not have attended church themselves. That’s why I wonder whether the characteristics of home-study students might differ substantially.

  15. The best and strongest YW and Duty to God and Seminary programs happen when the youth have active, interested parents? The YW/Duty to God/Seminary programs push students to push parents to be more active? I’m quite certain there are YW and Faith in God requirements to hold FHE, for example. Doesn’t the Duty to God award require something like that?

    It’s worth exploring, anyhow. If it weren’t for Seminary and genealogy (and the YW president, who was my Seminary teacher, with whom she became friends) I don’t think my mom would have seen any reason to go to church between 1995 and 2000.

    Oh, and just as a random factoid: in my branch, we did home-study-early-morning Seminary — that is, we met at 6am every Wednesday morning. ^_^

  16. JA Benson says:

    I have mixed emotions about seminary. I enjoyed seminary as a released time seminary student in the 1970’s. We now live far from the released time programs of the intermountain west, and early morning is our only option. There are strict guidelines about what constitutes hardship to be excused to do home study seminary. I think it needs to be easier to do home study seminary.

    My oldest had a difficult time with seminary; this was because of peer conflicts not the Gospel. My second son has enjoyed seminary, but I think it is mostly because of close friends. I have substituted seminary on a few occasions and have enjoyed the experience, but have been impressed at the time commitment to this daily calling. I think with the emphasis on correlation in the church; everyone should be on early morning or after school seminary. If it builds our character here, it will build character there. I think that overall seminary and scouts are beneficial to the youth, but the big kicker is IF the program is implemented correctly. IMHO this often is not the case.

  17. I’ve never heard scouts and seminary “billed as the only things standing between our youth and the evils of the world.” I think you’re exaggerating a bit.

  18. I think they make it difficult to take home study seminary on your own b/c it’s easy to get the credit without trying (unless someone’s keeping good tabs on you). My husband had to “make up” a year of seminary in order to say he’d graduated from seminary. He did a year’s worth of home study assignments in a few weeks. I think bureaucrats are (rightly) worried that many kids will opt for home study in order to be lazy and thus put major roadblocks in the way. It is too bad that there’s not a fair way to give people the choice. Again, ways and means. If early morning seminary isn’t doing anything for a student and they sincerely want to take seminary, then it would be nice if there were another way.

  19. The only reason I went to Seminary was as a social event. I was not a spiritual giant as a teen, I hated getting up at 5-whatever in the morning, but my friends were there and some cute guys from other wards were there as well. If I had not gone to Seminary, there would have been no equivalent home studying of the scriptures. Despite my teenage idiocy, I did occasionally get something spiritual out of Seminary. But I did not enjoy spiritual learning until I attended Institute, and the whole reason I first attended Institute was, again, as a social event. But socializing is not why I graduated from the Institute program – I actually gained something from the classes and grew as a person.

    Communal learning is important. That’s why we all attend church together on Sundays. We could always replace church with at-home lessons and classes…

  20. President Hinckley has died.

  21. Sam Kitterman says:

    All three of my children attended seminary, two of whom graduated from seminary. One is fully active, married in the temple, etc. Second is wholly inactive and wants nothing to do with the Church and the third is semi-active, basically goes when she desires to go.
    My thoughts as to the totally inactive child (now nearly 25)? Seminary for him was to see those who proved to be hypocrites since their activities outside seminary and Sunday was anything but in keeping with Church teachings. Second factor was our ward being split and 90% of the youth being moved to the other ward and certain youth who were moved into the ward proving to be the tour guides for the slippery path away from the Gospel.

    Given those experiences combined with my own as a convert (and I would like to know how that factored into the study noted herein), I would submit one having honorably served a mission playing a far more active role in remaining active in the Church.

    Needless to say, my opinion with $5.00 will buy you your choice of drink at Starbucks. Without the $5.00 you get the straw, nothing else.

    Sam K

  22. Not to interrupt this thread, but I thought the passing of our beloved Prophet-Gordon B. Hinckley was perhaps a worthy threadjack. News broke here in Utah a few moments ago-more information will be forthcoming on ksl.com I’m sure.

    Our world has lost a giant of a man.

  23. Personally Sam #21 you have hit the nail on the head. From experiences in my life and in my children’s lives it is the LDS kids that they associate with for good or for evil that can greatly influence the desire to remain active after age 18. We need to worry more about our fellow LDS member’s children leading our children astray than the average non-LDS. Also how many kids have been driven from the church by the bullying that goes on? I would say a lot.

    I don’t know what goes on else were, but here in our Stake they make an effort to keep wards as small as possible. With too small of a ward, yes all of the adults feel needed, but too many of the kids are without a peer group. If there are two Laurels it is harder to maintain deep church friendships then say if there are fifteen Laurels. More likely everyone will at least find one friend. In our stake we have lost scores of youth to inactivity to please the needs of a few adults. I say do what we can to keep our youth so we don’t have to try and reclaim them as adults. Maybe the trick would be to keep the wards small, but combine the units in the building’s youth programs to better the youth programs. We have suggested this idea to the Stake and have been told, “SLC does not want us to do it like that”.

  24. I have no experience with release-time, but I always thought that going to early morning Seminary felt like a special sacrifice. (I grew up five minutes away from our church, but our kids have to be driven 25 mins each way and we do it willingly and gratefully). My teen is the ONLY member in his entire HS, and Seminary is really, really important to him and makes a great community of support. Our ward has a strong positive youth culture regarding Seminary; the kids throw their energy into the program big-time and our teachers are the best. (Donuts every Friday helps too). Our 2 Seminary classes (grades 9-10, grades 11-12) include kids from 5 or 6 local high schools and from two different wards.

    I’m sad to hear about “Sunday Saints” or “Seminary Saints.” In my experience and that of my kids (both outside the Mormon Culture Region), it was/is a way to help teens keep each other in their sights more than just once a week and it has reinforced faithful behavior, not the opposite.

  25. I think that, as with most things, you take from seminary what you want to take from it. So what if there are kids who go and get nothing from it? Does that automatically mean that the ones who want to get something from it shouldn’t have the opportunity? Of course, I am biased. I had a wonderful experience in seminary. I was only enrolled my senior year and I learned things there I never would have learned at home. I came from a (very) less active home. Earlier that year I was truly converted to the truth of the gospel. However, I wasn’t planning on enrolling in seminary at all, it wasn’t required. Over a few months, and many promptings and opportunities, it became very clear to me that I should take seminary. It truly changed me. I am extremely thankful that I had that opportunity. It is sad that the statistic doesn’t take full advantage, but maybe the people outside of the statistic are getting something worth while out of the money being spent.

  26. I came from a part member family, (having been theoretically raised catholic–catholic grade school till 8th grade, altar boy, etc.) and without lds scouting and home study seminary, I think there’s a good chance I might not be in the church today.

    So I would shed a tear if we lost scouting. Released-time seminary is foreign to me, so I can’t really speak to it. (having always lived east of the Mississippi)

    Programs like scouting and seminary might seem redundant or ‘too much’ for people with fully functional church families, but frankly, I don’t wonder if the most substantial benefits accrue to those in less-than-ideal family/church situations. And if that’s true, then it might be worth it even if it has little impact on the fully churched.

  27. Last Lemming says:

    I’ve never heard scouts and seminary “billed as the only things standing between our youth and the evils of the world.

    I sure have. Those same leaders even threw EFY into the mix.

    Let me resume my broken record advocacy for on-line seminary. Recruit a stable of teachers to run classes at all times of the day out of Provo. Equip needy students with low cost computers ($200 versions are just around the corner) and webcams (so the teacher can see the students) and you get a social experience with professional instruction at a reasonable hour. The monthly internet access charges for those currently without it would be the biggest obstacle. (But we could just send those students to the nearest Starbucks to use their wi-fi :))

  28. JA Benson,

    I think you are on to something with the importance of the size of the youth program. Its pretty important that every kid boy and girl have at least one friend in the youth program in their ward. The more kids you have the more likely they will have a friend or 2.

    We have large youth programs around here. Its the way to go.

  29. Thanks bbell for the validation. I have watched this scenario for over 15 years. Ward size is functional with a great scout program, two seminary classes, fun YW program etc.. Then they spilt it into two or three wards. It takes the scout program several years to recover. The older kids stop attending youth night because of the the clicks and bullying that goes on. Participation in the youth programs just dwindle. All because there have been a few adults activated and felt needed. President Hinckley talked about how all a new convert needed was a friend and a responsibility. Well I think that this applies to many of our youth.

  30. I have mixed feelings on this topic. I was raised in the Salt Lake valley, and generally went to release-time seminary. I say “generally” because it seemed to me that there was more trying to entertain us than to teach or inspire us. I arranged to have it the last period of the day my senior year, so I could find out if it were a lesson or just another filmstrip or movie. However, I still went to all the firesides and activities. I participated in more seminary social events than social events of any other kind.

    On the other hand, seminary was the only place I got any church-related socialization in my teenage years. I was always the smallest in my classes in primary or mutual, and so I was always the target of all the bullying. This was before the block schedule, so primary was on a weekday. I couldn’t always convince my mom to let me stay home, so I would walk to the building and hang around it until the other kids started leaving. For mutual, my parents both worked part-time on mutual nights, so I didn’t even have to pretend I was going to the church that night.

    If I hadn’t had release-time seminary, I probably would have gone inactive as a teenager.

  31. Yep,

    The priorities on ward creation need to be primary, YW, YM in no particular order. The bigger the ward the more likely you will have some serious strong leaders for the youth. Every ward needs a couple of good scouters, strong YW leaders etc.

    I was dismayed to review the stake YM ordination roster recently. The weaker/smaller wards in our stake have a serious problem with ordaining YM to the office of a priest. The stronger larger wards had no such problem. I see a correlation causation

  32. Right on. The best people for the youth including Primary. I have watched some of the best people put into RS and Elders and then watched the futile chase of trying to recover the adults who were ignored kids just a few years before.

    If our priority was to make church a happy, fun and safe place for our children and teens first; then the spirit would be able to teach them. I truly think that this is the key to retaining our youth.

  33. I have to advocate a little bit for smaller wards. I love my 65 child primary. It is so much more manageable than the 120-200 kid primaries I’ve heard about in larger wards.

  34. Our stake here in the NW has a split personality. We have an urbanizing core of several wards in our stake that are dominated by older, empty nest couples, and young couples in apartments, with dwindling numbers of youth. Then there are the newer wards, newer homes, middle class family wards on the other side of the lake with huge youth programs.

    AM seminary has been organized along high school boundaries for several years, rather than by wards, to help kids be acquainted with the other LDS kids that they attend school with. At one time, kids in our ward attended 4 different high schools, and kids from about 8 different wards in three stakes attended our kids high school. Getting to know the other LDS kids was difficult until they tied the seminary classes to high school groups rather than wards.

    Our stake, in the older urbanized areas, has already combined cub scouts across 5 wards, and boy scouts in two troops, one serving the two wards in our building, and the other the other three wards in this half of our stake, just to try and get the numbers.

    Anecdotally, we found early morning seminary hugely important for socialization, but it made family scripture study very problematic with conflicting evening schedules. I have a love/hate relationship with Scouting. I much prefer the Duty to God program over the scouting program. I’ve seen several YM in our ward who just weren’t into scouting struggle in those 12 – 16 year age groups, and we lost a couple. On the other hand, we produced somewhere upwards of 60% of our YM as Eagle Scouts, well above the church average, IIRC. Much of what scouting did for these boys could have been done via the Duty to God program, and allowed more flexibility for the boys who didn’t want to be in scouts.

  35. Kevinf,

    I like the seminary idea. We are doing that here. I taught seminary last week and the class is about 20 seniors that go to 2 schools.

    One strategy that I have seen that works pretty good is to draw ward boundaries using high school boundaries. It does not work in all areas esp those that have lots of members though.

  36. As a sidenote, early morning seminary is now supposed to be called “daily seminary.” Apparently there are some areas where it’s easier to have it at a time other than before school. (Our CES coordinator informed us of this at a faculty meeting several months ago.)

  37. How American is this conversation? Scouting? Anything other than home study seminary? (Maybe some places in the UK may have daily, but not many.) 65 kids in a primary is small?
    exit Ghost of Mormons not American

  38. Mark Brown, I searched through your two links for where home study students were separated from early morning seminary students, but I didn’t find it. Where is it?

  39. John, they are not separated out, and I apologize if I gave the impression that they were. We can assume that the Provo kids are all realsed time, and the West coast kids are early A.M. In the footnotes of the second study, the authors say that the kids on the East coast were both early A.M. and home study. My point is that we really can’t tell the difference, given the available data. East coast kids, West coast kids, Provo kids – they are all wonderful youth of Zion, and the challenges they face are about the same. And they are also about equally successful in meeting those challenges. How they get their seminary doesn’t seem to matter, especially in light of the first study.

    Norbert, exactly. If released time seminary and scouting were really as effective as their promoters claim, it would terribly negligent of the church to provide them only for kids in North America.

  40. This last week my daughter, a neighbor and I ended up having what we called a ‘guided home study’ for seminary. Even though I am an amazing human being and an inspirational teacher, both girls agreed that they missed their teacher and their classmates from their early morning class. (‘Nothing personal, Mom.’)

    I’ve complained quite a bit about my 17-year seminary sentence. (I’m up for parole in 2022). But I know that my daughter is having a much more significant experience than she would studying the material at home (or on the internet). The later options would be easier and cheaper, but I think the extra effort and expense are worthwhile.

  41. Is Scouting in the UK the same as in the US? I know that the church has not embraced Girl Scouts here in the US, but the goals of GS are really not in line with church programs. Perhaps Scouting in other countries doesn’t work as well with the YMs program as the BSA program does.

    (I’ve got about 15 years clocked in with Girl Scouts, past and present. Love it, love it.)

  42. A little anecdote: Last year, because of some scheduling quirk the details of which I don’t quite remember, my wife assigned her early morning seminary class an in-home assignment one day. That day, instead of coming to class, the students were to 1) study the scriptures for a half hour at home before school, and 2) call Sister Mansfield that day to report their study. Zero out of nine students reported in, and that was the last time that sort of thing was attempted.

  43. Having lived in the same small community for most of my life (‘cepting mission and education) I whole heartedly agree that family has the most influence on continued activity in the church. Generally, the same families that were active when I was young are the same ones that are active now.

    Released time seminary didn’t have much an effect either way for the most part. The same kids I saw in seminary, I saw in class, I saw at MIA, I saw on my own street, etc. Like I said, small town.

    Plug for Scouting:

    If the Church (in the US) has decided that the Boy Scout program is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood, then that is what it is. It’s an imperfect program, doesn’t cover all the bases, and is hell to run in two or three short years (I don’t really call Varsity and Venture programs scounting programs in the church, the way they are currently run.) It provides a sense of “quorom” when many deacon quoroms don’t. It gives kids a chance to achieve goals, etc. It gets kids outdoors (away from the computer, video games, etc) at least once a month. It creates common and shared experiences that will last a lifetime. Granted, some are sour on scouting because of those experiences.

    But what about Duty to God program? I was stake YM president during the implementation of the new Duty to God requirements. A HUGE improvement over the old requirements. A chance for every boy to strive toward worthy goals. What happened? The wards that had good scouting programs had good Duty to God programs. The boys that are doing good in scouting, do good in Duty to God. The parents that support scouting, support the family activities required for Duty to God. Kids that don’t have encouragement in scouting, generally don’t in Duty to God.

    Just my observation.

  44. JA Benson says:

    #43 John We have observed the same. If a kid is doing scouting he does DTG. Those who do not do scouting don’t usually do DTG either.

  45. I think the LDS program works pretty well. Outside researchers tend to agree.

    http://www.religionnewsblog.com/10570/mormon-teens-cope-best

  46. Growing up, we tended to do a mix of early morning and home study seminar. During sports seasons, we’d do home study, and we would go to early morning during the other weeks of the year. I liked early morning seminary, but the problem of student exhaustion is very real.

    What bothers me somewhat is the expectation that you finish seminary in order to attend BYU. At one point, there was some thought in our ward of assigning grades for early morning seminary. Thankfully, it didn’t happen.

  47. Norbert,
    65 kids in primary is small as compared to the other 2 wards in our town. We have the smallest number of youth (maybe 5 boys and 5 girls), but in order to increase those numbers, we’d have to have a larger primary. We’ve tried combining with other wards, but then it places a large burden on families having to drive back and forth btwn the two buildings in our town depending on whether they have a child in scouts, Activity Days, and YM/YW. Not all of those were combined and they were at different times so we ultimately decided that it was better for the families to hold everything on our own. There’s also something to be said for individual attention from the leaders and no cliques b/c there’s not enough youth to have a clique. :)

    I grew up in a small branch; they do exist in the US! – at one point we had 5 youth total (a brother and sister, myself, and my brother and sister). Our branch encompassed 5 high schools in 4 counties. We couldn’t do early morning logistically. I think they tried a few years after I graduated, but again, it was a social thing; with so few kids there it wasn’t really fun and everybody hated it. On the other hand, growing up in a small branch can give a youth more experience than in a large ward. I was branch organist and a primary teacher before I graduated.

  48. Home study about the worst way to study the scriptures. For those of us who decided to not take seminary the first half of our 10th grade year (namely me), home study is not the best way to learn the gospel. Seminary is not my favorite part of my day always, but sometimes it is nice to gain a religious education, even if it be by some of the… “greatest” people the church has to offer. This is not to demean seminary teachers at all. I admire them greatly but I can’t stand some of them.

  49. I am from England, and graduated from Seminary in the Summer last gone. I tried home study for 2 weeks, and i just didn’t have the time to do it. On the other hand, doing early moring seminary is the only way most of us have the time to do seminary, as we don’t have it at school. It is also better to do seminary with other people, and not by yourself. I found I got a lot more out of it that way. Seminary is valuable in England – for many it is the only time to study the scriptures during a busy day.

  50. I attended early morning seminary in a small New York branch (our class had up to 8 students depending on activity) and graduated, but I can guarantee that I would not have made my 80% attendance if my parents did not make me. I had little to no interest in seminary and if I had been enrolled in home study wouldn’t have done it at all. That said, I think my seminary experience was a rewarding one that really does help a lot of youth not feel so alone in areas with fewer LDS (myself included).

    Regarding scouting, I thought the church was starting to distance itself from the program but judging from the number of scouting related announcements in my ward it doesn’t seem to be the case. My husband and I have been talking about how we feel about it and ideally would choose not to include our future sons in scouting- but it is so closely tied with any kind of social activity. What to do what to do…

  51. Early morning seminary in our part of the country can be more than a reasonable sacrifice. The weather is frigid, the roads slippery, and the distances significant. I was a home study seminary student myself in this same area and loved it! I learned the scriptures much better than the majority of students today. The social aspect of early morning seminary is overrated in an area like ours. There is a lot of conflict, and too many students sleeping. I fail to see how this helps our children move ahead.

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