Going on a mission and preparing for college at the same time can be tricky.
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Apply and defer … it’s one of the most important things you can do. —Dawn Fellows, Assistant Director of Admissions at LDS Business College

Two of the most important moments in a young Latter-day Saint's life — going to college and going on a mission — have a tendency to overlap. Especially with the new missionary age requirements, planning for college and a mission simultaneously challenges many aspiring missionaries.

“Have a plan,” said Dawn Fellows, Assistant Director of Admissions at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City. “See what are your ultimate goals. ... You may not know them, but sometimes just taking a few classes (can help).”

It’s a good idea to get your generals out of the way before your mission — or at least a semester's worth — agrees Fellows, who said a solid majority of the incoming freshman students at LDSBC go on missions after that first semester.

“You can take (a) math class so you don’t have to retake a math placement test (once you get back),” Fellows said. “You can take your math and your English classes so that you have those, you have a solid foundation” for when one gets back from a mission. “Hopefully, once you get back you’ll have more of an idea (for a career) … and you’ll already have built a foundation to move forward on.”

Another great reason to consider a semester before a mission is the ability to take LDS institute classes such as mission prep that are offered at many colleges and universities in Utah. Other classes may also come in handy in the mission field. LDSBC offers a free summer course (June-August) called LEAP that teaches students through a foundation of learning class, mission prep and a class on interpersonal communications, teaching useful things to a future missionary.

Another thing to consider is spending that first semester at a two-year institute or a four-year? Two-year community colleges — either designed to help you transfer to a four-year such as Snow College, or help you get a job with an Associates degree such as LDSBC — often come at a fraction of the cost of a four-year university, and have easier admission requirements. This allows a student to get that solid foundation without breaking the bank mere months before having to go on a mission.

But what if you have a scholarship? Don’t panic by putting aside a mission — simply defer enrollment. Deferment allows you to push back important things such as scholarships and starting classes for when you come back from your mission.

“Apply and defer … it’s one of the most important things you can do,” Fellows said. “You may not know what you want to do, but you’ve put things in place to help you with your goals.”

Between college and preparing to leave to the Missionary Training Center, things can seem overwhelming. But as long as you have a plan, as Fellows suggests, it’s possible.

This article was paid for and produced by LDS Business College.