I’m currently in Pathway Connect. In case you’re not familiar with the program I’ll explain it briefly. You take two classes for each of three terms. The terms are fall, winter, and spring. Right now we’re in the winter term.
Each term we have one scripture class, much like Institute, I think. Last term we studied about half the Book of Mormon, and this term we are studying the second half. We just finished Helaman and are starting 3 Nephi this week. I think the reading is 3 Nephi 1-11. We also have supplemental readings each week that we can choose from. They include chapters from the Book of Mormon Student Manual that go along with the scripture reading. And there is usually a talk. So we can choose between the talk and the student manual chapters. I generally try to do both. It is a great blessing to actually be able to study the scriptures. I have read the Book of Mormon several times, but until now I have never studied it like I have been in this program. The manual is a commentary from various church leaders over time. It is really interesting and enlightening to read the scriptures alongside the commentary.
The religion course is setup with several projects throughout the term. We get to study Christlike attributes and then identify how well we reflect each attribute. We grade ourselves. Then we decide one to work on. We report on which one we will work on, and what we will do during that period. Then when the period is over we report on what we have learned. We also have family home evening projects and what they call “Share It” assignments where we share principes we are studying with others and then report on them.
There is a lot more to the religion courses, but this gives you a bit of an idea of how it is structured and what we do.
The other class is different each term. The first term we had what they called Life Skills. We learned time management, money management, study skills, self-reliance, academic planning, provident living, budgeting, goal setting, time management, and other things. We also had projects every couple of weeks. Sometimes this included teaching a friend something we are working on. This helps us remember better and also can sometimes provide feedback and other ways of thinking about things. Every concept we learned in this course was related to the Gospel. It was really interesting, enlightening, and absolutely inspired of God.
This semester in addition to the Book of Mormon part II, we are studying math. And next semester we study writing. The math is fairly basic with some algebra and some personal finance. Some people find it a little hard, but most seem to do ok. I have found a certain pleasure in being reminded of my roots to some degree. I was a physics major when I first went to college so many years ago. So math was something I was comfortable with. It is nice now to see that I can still do it, that I am still relatively comfortable with it.
Next term in religion we study “the eternal ministry of Jesus Christ and His divine roles and teachings throughout His premortal, mortal, and postmortal life.” And for the other class we will be studying writing and grammar.
The best part of the whole Pathway experience is the Thursday gathering. We meet as a cohort of 31 year old plus students each Thursday night. There are ten of us there now and two pairs of missionaries. At the gatherings we have two class sessions. Each is taught by a student. This is according to the BYU-Idaho Learning Model. So I will teach each class at least once per term. I teach religion this coming Thursday and math the following Thursday according to the schedule. It is usually fun to teach and of course as we prepare we often learn more than the weeks we are not the so-called Lead Student. I love the people in our gathering. It is usually a very uplifting, spirit-filled meeting.
Even as we have been out of town I have attended these Thursday gatherings in other places. I went to two in Texas. And one in Illinois. They are pretty much everywhere.
There can be a lot of work to do each week. I have found that it takes me about 4-6 hours a week per class. It is sometimes pretty time consuming. These aren’t like blow off courses that have little to no need for studying.
For me the idea is to complete Pathway and then be able to attend BYU-Idaho online. This is the way the program is designed, I think. BYU-I online offers all sorts of options and programs. I’m interested in a few of them. It will be hard to choose when the time comes. One other thing to note is the cost. It is cheap. Less than $60/semester hour. That’s less than in-district tuition at EAC, I think. But the real benefit of going from Pathway to BYU-I is that when we go to BYU-I the rate we pay for Pathway is the same rate we will pay there, at BYU-I. And even though BYU-I is very reasonable as the cost of university education goes, the $60/hr is much less than the regular BYU-I tuition fee.
President Uchtdorf said, “Education is a commandment.” We have learned in Pathway something you may already know, we are also responsible to God for our time. This program is so clearly inspired. The Spirit is just thick as I study and at our gatherings. First term was just a joy. It was so amazing. This second term has been a little more difficult, probably because the math course does not seem to bring the Gospel directly into our study, but the people are great, and the Spirit is there. I really love this program and would recommend it to anyone.
I have felt a need for a while now to share a bit of my experience with the Pathway program. I was asked by Br Davis to talk about it if it was something that I felt I should. He did also give me a topic, actually two. The next bit I was asked to share is my conversion story. I know some of this I have said before. And frankly this is hard for me. I don’t like talking about myself like this. If it is in the context of a conversation, and it is appropriate to bear testimony then I feel much more at ease doing it. But to stand here and just talk about my experience, well, that’s just not something I am comfortable with. We know though, that while it was me who was converted it was the Holy Ghost who did it.