BYU by the back door

by: Stephen Marsh

February 5, 2014

So, you want to go to BYU but your high school grades are bad and you can’t test your way around it.  What do you do?

1. Drop out of high school and get a GED. BYU treats that as making your high school grades irrelevant. Don’t worry, you can stay in long enough for your senior prom.

2. Go to a community college and take only easy A classes. This sets you up to apply as a transfer student without the need for good test scores.

Now you can apply to BYU and you have gotten in by the back door.  It is a growing trend, so expect them to figure it out to the detriment of those who are in real need of a fair second chance.  (To be fair, I understand that this happens at other schools too.)  What do you think of this back door approach?

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16 Responses to BYU by the back door

  1. NewlyHousewife on February 5, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Every college I know does this. The reason being, a vast majority of students that drop out do so during freshman year. By accepting transfer students (those who have previous college credit) it helps ensure class sizes stay roughly the same instead of shrinking dramatically between freshman and sophomore year.

    The better ‘back door’ approach is to appeal and claim you’re related to an apostle (though if you were, chances are you wouldn’t have been denied in the first place).

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  2. Rb on February 5, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Don’t forget the mission route. I have nephews who served and I labored to read their weekly emails for two years. These kids struggle to write in basic English and just aren’t bright. Imagine my surprise to read how excited they were to have been accepted to BYU post-mission. Not sure why I should be surprised. BYU is not too tough going through the front door for any kid with decent grades and test scores.

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  3. Erin on February 5, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Being a depressed teen in high school, my GPA was a 2.0. So, I chose a variant of option 2–I went to Ricks College, was still depressed, but brought my grades up enough to be admitted to BYU on academic probation.

    I think that if BYU wants to be morally, ethically fair, and not be so concerned about the world’s opinion of it (“Harvard of the west”–which it isn’t), BYU ought to admit all students on a lottery basis–every student, regardless of alumni relationship, mission service, seminary graduate status, Eagle scout award, etc., who has, say, a 2.5 or 3.0 GPA and/or certain ACT/SAT scores, ought to have an equal chance of admission.

    I know that some schools, and some programs within schools (some nursing programs come to mind) offer a lottery system, and I think BYU ought to seriously consider this.

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  4. jks on February 5, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Because we have BYU Idaho now, there is no need for BYU to have the lottery system instead. BYU Idaho can give almost anyone who wants it a church school college education.

    As for the back door approaches, very interesting information.

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  5. John Mansfield on February 5, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    The acceptance rate at BYU for new freshmen is 56%. For transfer students it is 46%. BYU’s back door is a bit more selective than the front door. Other than for Bryce Harper, has dropping out to get a GED improved anyone’s path to college?

    saas.byu.edu/tools/b4byu/sites/b4/?new-freshman/home

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  6. Erin on February 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    Having experienced both BYU and Ricks College, I would much rather my kids get their church college experience at BYU. While not perfect, BYU reflected my values better than Ricks–institutionally and culturally, BYU was more tolerant of all types of diversity, and had the benefit of being more academically challenging.

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  7. Rb on February 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Of all the good things which can be said about BYU, I can’t imagine cultural diversity would crack the top 100 good things. Are we still talking about BYU? Cultural diversity and BYU don’t belong in the same sentence/paragraph/essay. The “Honor Code” does a pretty effective job of homogenizing the culture of BYU. Based on my observation, BYU is a factory that produces largely similar looking (often handsome/attractive), earnest students with surprisingly similar values and views. (I know the plural of anecdote is not data.). Isn’t that one of the goals?

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  8. Erin on February 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Re: RB’s response, #7:

    Yes, I am still talking about BYU. I did say it wasn’t perfect. I also said that *in my experience,* BYU was better at accepting diversity than Ricks College. I didn’t say BYU was the best at diversity. I said it was better than Ricks.

    “I can’t imagine cultural diversity would crack the top 100″: I didn’t mention cultural diversity, but that *the culture of BYU* was more tolerant of diversity than the culture of Ricks. (However, speaking of cultural diversity, again, in my experience, BYU was more culturally diverse than Ricks.)

    For example, while a student at BYU, I encountered more tolerance at BYU for these specific, diverse factors: liberal politics, liberal perspectives on religion/spirituality, homosexuality, and cultural diversity, roles of women, and so on. I am aware that not everyone had this experience while at BYU, but I did–members of my BYU ward, friends of mine, some professors, and even my BYU ward’s bishop–all were tolerant of and even supported and appreciated the diversity that I mentioned.

    I also said that the *institution of BYU* was more tolerant of diversity than Ricks. For example, as you mention, the Honor Code: While I would prefer a much less stringent Honor Code altogether for all church schools, when I attended Ricks and BYU, Ricks had a stricter (and in my opionion, more sexist and basically more ridiculous) Honor Code than BYU’s.

    “The “Honor Code” does a pretty effective job of homogenizing the culture of BYU.” Well, I guess that depends on how “culture” is defined.

    “Cultural diversity and BYU don’t belong in the same sentence/paragraph/essay.” It does. But I think that would be going off on more of a tangent, and I’ll end my part of this threadjack.

    Take care.

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  9. hawkgrrrl on February 5, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    jks – BYU-I isn’t nearly as reputable academically. It’s also about the worst environment I can imagine. I want my kids to be exposed to new ideas and legitimate academic teaching, not thought police, sexism and homophobia.

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  10. heather y on February 5, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    You forgot the ultimate BYU backdoor – marriage. My college grades weren’t good enough to transfer to the Y ($%&* College Algebra class), but my newlywedded husband had excellent grades. BYU wanted him, but not me. He told them we were a package deal. I was reluctantly allowed in on academic probation for one semester, which meant we were in! We moved to Wymount Terrace student housing, I got a job at the bookstore (meanest, grumpiest boss I ever had. I decided based on her orthopedic shoes that her feet must hurt all the time. Otherwise, her surly mood made no sense.)
    We lasted at BYU for 18 months, long enough at Mormon Mecca to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom in the next life. Due to a series of unfortunate health circumstances, we had to move closer to family. No one was happier than me the first day of classes at the Univ. of Colorado. Men with long hair! Beards! Sandals! Women in short shorts! Purple hair! Sweatpants! It was totally awesome and I was truly home.

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  11. Rb on February 5, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Erin,

    I’m glad you had a nice experience at BYU and probably had the kind of experience someone with even an ounce of independence would have had at Ricks. That you survived both institutions suffering from depression without either one exacerbating that difficult condition is a testament to you. You’re ahead of the game.

    Comparing any other school-BYU included-to Ricks/BYU-I on diversity/freedom of thought/maturity scale is setting the bar way, way too low and guarantees a favorable outcome for the other school except the Bob Jones University type schools.

    Isn’t going to BYU-I and doing well there another back door to BYU? BYU-I is essentially a Mormon community college where everyone who is a good enough Mormon gets in. Do a lot of students who were bad in HS go to BYU-I with the hope of eventually taking the back door to BYU?

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  12. Stephen R. Marsh on February 5, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Thanks for the comments.

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  13. Stephen R. Marsh on February 5, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Average incoming GPA from high school: 3.82

    Average incoming ACT 28.5

    http://saas.byu.edu/tools/b4byu/sites/b4/?new-freshman/entrance-averages/

    Just FYI.

    A 28 ACT is 90%tile, a 29 is 93%tile.

    So the school is fairly competitive at the average.

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  14. Stephen R. Marsh on February 5, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    For comparisons: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/theact/a/ACT_Top_Public.htm

    Anyway, interesting stuff.

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  15. Douglas on February 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    #15 – My son never had fantastic grades; he took pre-Algebra THREE times before he got a “B” out of it. Yes, he did a mission, but that alone isn’t the ticket. He did persist in getting his grades up post-mission, all the while playing football at the local JC. When he finally got admitted to the “Y”, he applied to the College of Engineering and got in as A ChemE major. The lad persisted (he did get a tryout with the football team, but a week of getting knocked around by Polynesian lads both bigger AND faster convinced him that a football career wasn’t in the cards). Persistence paid off, as he graduated last year, and is now employed in his field for a Fortune 500 company in the MidWest. He’s even hooked up with a young lady from the Chicago area who is finishing her Master’s at the Y. So ya never know…

    If at first ya don’t succeed….

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  16. Erin on February 7, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    “Isn’t going to BYU-I and doing well there another back door to BYU? BYU-I is essentially a Mormon community college where everyone who is a good enough Mormon gets in. Do a lot of students who were bad in HS go to BYU-I with the hope of eventually taking the back door to BYU?”

    Yeah, when I was at Ricks, many people I knew were there to boost their grades in hopes of a BYU admission. Since Ricks is now a four-year institution, I suspect that that may not be the case as much.

    I was at the Y right when the fraternities and sororities ended (and saw evidence of drunken Sam Hall Society parties), when the 7th East Press’s influence was still felt, the Pat & Jeff Show was excellent and beloved (rumors abounded that Jeff Holland would spontaneously invite groups of unknown students to his campus home for FHE), the Student Review began and was in its prime, and Eugene England and the whole Honors program in the Maeser building was a place for intellectual and spiritual diversity. Many of my female friends majored in math, physics, military science, among other things. A gay BYU couple was in our student ward–well, it was one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” things, but everyone knew and no one cared. Our bishop, speaking of them, said “I don’t care [about their homosexuality and living together], I just want them to come to church.”

    I know that not a lot of BYU students had this same experience, but I did, and I am sure that other students, maybe even now have the potential for similar experiences. I hope that if my kids choose to attend the Y, they have similar experiences.

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