Southern Utah University Blog

Adjusting from a Mission to College Life

Posted: September 03, 2019 | Author: Kierstin Pitcher-Holloway | Read Time: 4 minutes

Adjusting from an LDS mission to being a college studentA large portion of students attending Southern Utah University and other universities in Utah have served as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After serving a mission, the transition home can be difficult, and the transition into a busy college life can be even more challenging. Here are tips to help students adjust from serving a mission to college life:

Use Your Resources & Support System

While serving, missionaries have specific resources and a structured support system specially designed to help them succeed and fulfill their purpose as a missionary. After leaving such a supportive environment it’s easy to think you’ve been left alone to fend for yourself in the cold world of textbooks, student loans, and final exams, but this is not the case!

The SUU chapter of Latter-Day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) provides a weekly Returned Missionary seminar, as well as activities and classes offered at the LDS Institute. LDSSA council member Natalie Humiston is responsible for planning the seminar that supports students as they transition. 

“The Returned Missionary seminar is designed to help returned missionaries, recent and not recent,” said Humiston. “The purpose is to help them adjust and keep moving forward spiritually instead of hitting that brick wall that some people do when they return home from their missions.” 

Along with LDSSA, there are many other resources available to help students succeed in achieving their full potential. At SUU, these resources include student success advisors, the Tutoring Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). 

Stay Active and Involved 

Missionaries are constantly meeting new people, it’s in the job description. Because this doesn’t happen as naturally after missionary service, many returned missionaries find it difficult to develop new friendships. This mindset can have a negative effect on students, causing them to become isolated and miss opportunities to create new connections. Instead, the staff at SUU’s Institute recommend staying active and involved. 

“When you get back from a mission you want to stay busy and it helps to not be by yourself,” said Max Morely, returned missionary and student president of LDSSA. “Go be active. Join a club. Take advantage of the many opportunities SUU provides to get involved.”

Humiston gives similar advice, “Try to surround yourself with people that will lift you up. If you’re struggling don’t just feel sorry for yourself, find people who are in the same boat as you are and help each other out.”

Continue Your Spiritual Growth

Over the course of their service, missionaries experience a lot of spiritual growth and self-discovery. When returning home, it's hard to continue this progression, and many returned missionaries find themselves stagnating spiritually. Such sudden halts to individual growth can be confusing and overwhelming. 

To prevent this, it’s important for returned missionaries to consciously seek out opportunities to continue their spiritual growth. One way to do this is by participating in activities and classes offered through LDSSA. 

“My experience with the LDS Institute has been amazing,” said Humiston. “Going to institute classes and choir really provided me with a purpose. I met people in the same situation and it really gave me a spiritual boost in my day.”

Humiston started classes at SUU two short weeks after coming home from her mission but was able to find spiritual support. In addition to attending Institute, she recommends that all returned missionaries who find themselves struggling, remember what they taught people on their missions to do. Things like praying every day and having faith during times of struggle, pertain just as much to returned missionaries as it did to those they served.   

Keep Up With Your Studies 

There are many things to juggle while adjusting to college life, but it’s important to prioritize your education. After all, that is why you’re at college in the first place.

As a missionary, you had scheduled times for studying every day. Much of this study was self-guided and required a certain level of difficulty like learning a new language or creating lesson plans. The same principles of daily study and self-driven learning can be applied to your coursework. 

“Use the study skills that you used on the mission and apply them to school,” said Humiston. “Having success in school will really relieve a lot of stress.” 

To help organize your coursework and stay on top of your studies SUU provides students with the learning management system Canvas that allows them to track assignments, and add any needed additional study tasks to their calendars. This can be used much like a missionary planner/app to prioritize and organize goals and tasks. 


If you’re a returned missionary struggling to adjust to college life or apprehensive about beginning this adjustment, remember that you can overcome challenges! Yes, college life is a whole different set of challenges but you’ve succeeded before and you can do it again. 

Tags: Cedar City Student Affairs

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