BYU admissions getting tougher every year

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    By MARK SIMMONS

    Getting into BYU is just as challenging as it has ever been. But along with high academic marks, potential students should focus on extra-curricular qualifications if they hope to get in.

    Jeff Tanner, Associate Dean of Admissions and Records, said 25 percent of admission considerations pertain to items other than academic qualifications. “About nine years ago the Board of Directors saw the high quality of academic preparation students had when enrolling. Now that we had a well-prepared student body, we could start looking at other factors in the admissions process.”

    Academic qualifications have only risen slightly over the past nine years. Overall, competitive ACT scores have been in the mid to high twenties, with B+ average GPA’s. Academic requirements cover about 75 percent of the admission decision, Tanner said. They include background in English, advanced math, history, literature, history and a foreign language.

    But Admissions is looking a lot more into letters of recommendation, community service, and other extra-curricular items, such as seminary attendance, Tanner said.

    “About 26,000 high school students send their ACT scores to BYU every year to approve, and we respond to every one of them regarding the likelihood of their being accepted,” Tanner said. Eventually about 8000 students apply for enrollment. About 6000 are accepted, while only about 80 percent of them (4800) will attend BYU.

    Tanner said most applicants are not turned away because they can’t do the work. Regarding rejection letters he said, “There is not a letter we work on more here than the deny letter. We’re not denying students because they can’t do the work. About 99.9 percent of the applicants are predicted to succeed with a C average or higher and graduate. We’re denying them because we don’t have space, not because they’re not prepared. We just struggle over that letter because we’re trying to keep the individual intact.”

    Tanner said applicants have a better chance of being accepted if college departments offer scholarships for special skills or circumstances — like musical or athletic talent. Ethnic and cultural background can also be a factor.

    Harold Nez is a senior majoring in communications studies. “I was admitted into BYU when I got a tribal scholarship into pre-engineering. It came from my Navajo tribe in Fort Defiance, Ariz. where I was born,” Nez said.

    Tanner said about 3400 students at other colleges apply to BYU every year. “About 1000 apply here from Ricks College, and another 400 apply from Utah Valley State College.”

    Only 32 hours at another college qualifies someone as a transfer student. “But we recommend students stay at junior colleges until they receive an Associates Degree,” Tanner said. “That way, they won’t be thrown into different educational philosophies midway through their course work.”

    Will Kearns lives in Provo and goes to UVSC. “I spent a year at Ricks and then transferred to UVSC when BYU turned down me down again. I thought a 3.0 grade point average was pretty good, but it wasn’t good enough to get accepted.” Kearns is now working on an Associates Degree in electrical engineering at UVSC.

    Tanner said BYU sets quotas for both incoming freshmen and transfer students, who are not in competition with each other for admission.

    BYU uses economic resources to recruit from about 12 junior colleges in the west, Tanner said. “We also recruit at CES firesides to college and high school students throughout the nation.”

    Only six people are responsible for going to high school students throughout the nation and recruit students to BYU. “We prefer calling them high school relations people rather than recruiters,” Tanner said. “We don’t want to give anyone false hopes, so we’re trying to provide information so that people can make the best decision possible.”

    “There’s no great growth benefit to getting a deny letter. We can help people to decide or self-select not to apply,” Tanner said.

    Of all the considerations made in the admission process, there is only one qualification that is critical, Tanner said. “There are no requirements but the ecclesiastical endorsement.”

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