By Autumn Salvesen
BYU’s Religion Department and the Church’s Educational System Institute program offer classes that cover a vast array of topics, but do BYU students get the same feelings and experiences as the students that take Institute classes?
An article in the New Era stated that people who attend Institute are those that are attending colleges other than Church schools or do not have an opportunity to study the gospel.
Jonna Christison, 20, a sophomore from Park City majoring in elementary education, used to attend Utah State University and the institute program offered there.
“I got more from attending Institute at Utah State than from my BYU classes mostly because it was my choice to go,” Christison said.
Christison said any class that teaches religion is good because it helps increase her understanding of the gospel, but that she liked her Institute classes more because she was not worried about getting a grade; she could just focus on the class.
Thom Carter, 22, a BYU student serving an internship as a lobbyist in New Jersey this summer, attends the Institute supported by Princeton University.
Carter said a lot of people from different areas attend the Institute.
“Institute is different, because it is not a routine. It is more like a Sunday school experience. I feel like I am learning in a different way,” Carter said.
Carter also said he likes attending Institute because everyone there has the opportunity to learn from each other.
When attending BYU religion classes, he keeps in mind the different lifestyles of the people in the classes, Carter said.
He said Institute is good because it is more geared to those people that are working, whereas BYU religion classes are geared toward students.
Christison also said that she likes Institute classes because they are smaller and more relaxed.
Regardless of whether Institute or BYU classes are better and of which offers a better experience, President Hinckley said, “Be smart. I mean be wise. Be smart about training your minds and hands for the future.”
In a letter by the First Presidency, dated Jan 30, 1970, it said “To meet the needs of religious instruction for our youth, we have established Institutes of religion.”
The letter also stated “in these Institutes our young people may receive religious training comparable with that received in Church schools.”
“I like both of the places where I have learned about religion, because they have helped me to become a better person,” Christison said.