It takes more than just good grades and high test scores to get into Brigham Young University.
According to BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee, the latest changes in admissions also look at how well prepared students are for university life before BYU's doors are opened to them.For the first time, seminary - whether it be released-time, early morning or home study - is taken into account for admission to BYU. Credit is given for the number of years taken, not the grade. And graduation is not required.
"We have found there is significant correlation between attendance at seminary and success at BYU," Pres. Lee said.
Another addition to admissions this year is a one-page written essay. Prospective students are asked to describe an experience outside their academic work they think the admissions committee should take into account in deciding whether to admit them. And then they are asked to say why they think that experience should make them candidates for admission.
"They have a wide open chance there to describe what they see in their background that relates to the purpose of BYU and that they want the admissions committee to see," said BYU Provost Bruce C. Hafen.
"We are leaving it [the essay] open because we are very interested in knowing the applicants' judgment about the factors that should influence admission to BYU apart from grades. So this is another way of looking at more than just grades and test scores."
Pres. Lee continued, "What we will be looking for is the quality of students' preparation for college work. [For freshmen] that principally focuses on the quality of classes they have taken in high school."
Although high school graduation may be more than seven months away for most students and the application deadline at BYU for semester fall 1991 isn't until Feb. 15 for freshmen, applications are already coming in. University officials encourage prospective freshmen to begin the entrance process now. Transfer and honor student applications must be in by April 15.
Planning ahead and knowing what it takes to get in to BYU can help students prepare for entrance into the university, Hafen said.
"Some people are under the impression that BYU is only concerned with grades and test scores," he explained. "Students who take college preparation courses in high school rather than easy courses are going to be better prepared and they are favored in our process."
Instead of using a predictive admission model that looks solely at grades and test scores, BYU adopted a new admissions model in 1985, called a preparation index. The philosophy of the preparation model is that a student should be encouraged and rewarded for taking a more rigorous high school curriculum.
"By relying exclusively on grades and test scores, we found that people were taking easy classes that didn't particularly prepare them well to do work at BYU, even though they were getting good grades," Pres. Lee said.
The admissions committee considers advanced placement classes and core classes such as science, math, history, English and languages as those that will help prepare students for college.
"That analysis of the transcript, together with the grades, makes up the preparation index," Pres. Lee added.
"We know there are some rural schools that do not offer the range of classes that some of the larger schools do. We take that factor into account and we hope never to disadvantage young people from the rural schools."
University officials must work to set the index number at the right point, he continued. "If we set it too low, then we fill up while we still have some very good people applying. So we have to set it high enough that it still leaves some room for all of those applications that will come in as late as the deadline. On the other hand if we set it too high then we may miss some good students.
"But beyond any question, it's set high enough this year that those whose applications are in by the deadline will all be considered and will be considered on an even-handed basis," Pres. Lee said.
As a guideline, students interested in going to BYU should have a 3.0 or higher grade point average, an ACT score of 20 or above and have completed at least 50 percent of their high school courses in college preparation classes. Transfer students generally should have above a 3.0 or higher grade point average in college.
"Anyone who is really serious about wanting to come to BYU ought to shoot for those things at a minimum," Pres. Lee said. "The more they do in college preparation classes helps."
BYU admitted 4,389 freshman and 1,034 transfer students fall semester 1990, and turned away about 1,000, he explained, saying that the number turned away is going up. "A thousand is the highest we've ever had, but it's the lowest we'll ever have in the future."
The university's enrollment ceiling was established in 1970 at 25,000. It then moved to an average between fall and winter semester at 27,000, since enrollment drops off in the winter.
Emphasis on a student's worthiness will continue to be a part of admissions at BYU. The ecclesiastical endorsement, a recommendation which comes after an interview with an ecclesiastical leader, is important to ensure that students are willing to uphold the BYU honor code and standards.
University officials often struggle to determine which applicants will take advantage of the total BYU experience, Pres. Lee added.
He said there are countless examples of students whose testimonies were not "as strong as they should have been" when they came to BYU, but whose lives changed for the good because of their experience at the university.
"It is not easy to distinguish between those people and the people who at no time will really take advantage of what BYU has to offer. But because we recognize that fact, we have to be tolerant and understanding in working with people."
A small number of applicants with special talents in areas such as the arts or athletics are also considered for admissions if they have shown preparation for university study not revealed in standard admission data. This includes students who are awarded a scholarship for talent, creativity or unusual preparation.
"We hope BYU will be the very best or one of the very best undergraduate teaching institutions, certainly of our size, in the country," Pres. Lee said. "I don't know of any other school anywhere of comparable size that has as its objective to remain dominantly an undergraduate teaching institution. That has always been our strength and is one we intend to continue."
Colleges provide balanced training
With the growing concerns LDS parents and their college-age sons and daughters have about achieving a well-rounded education - one that combines secular and spiritual truths - it's not uncommon for members to look at Church-owned colleges and universities for the answer.
A fast-growing Church membership, however, has made it more difficult for most Church institutions to continue providing for the needs of all LDS college-bound students.
Limitations in facilities and staff have made it necessary to establish enrollment ceilings to better serve the students with the resources available.
And because of enrollment ceilings, these institutions continue to look for creative and productive ways of sharing their unique educational experience with as many Church members as possible.
Not all college-bound LDS students wish to attend Church schools and many take advantage of the institute program instead. But for those who do, it helps to know beforehand what it takes to get in. And now is not too early to begin the admissions process for the 1991-1992 school year.
While all Church schools have honor codes and certain standards that must be adhered to, admission policies vary among the institutions. Details not found in the accompanying articles may be obtained from each institution.
Need more information?
BYU Admissions Office
Provo, Utah 84602
BYU-Hawaii Admissions Office
BYU-H Box 1973
Laie, Hawaii 96762
Admissions and Scholarships
Rexburg, Idaho 83460-4104
LDS Business College
411 E. South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111-1392