BY ELIZABETH EDWARDS
The drive to school was a little shorter this year for BYU student and Spanish Fork native Whitney Dawe, who used to make her way to Ephraim to attend Snow College.
Instead of heading south as she did last year, Dawe drove north on I-15 for a few short miles and stopped in Provo to study at BYU. As a transfer student, Dawe said she felt like a freshman again, but she soon learned her way around BYU’s campus.
The phrase, “it’s snowing” is commonly heard in Utah, but not just in reference to falling, white snowflakes. Snow College is also known to “snow” on Utah, because of the large numbers of transfer students from the two-year college to other schools. Dawe is one of many transfer students from Snow at BYU, one of the top three target universities for Snow transfers, along with Utah State University and Utah Valley University.
“It’s the plan of most every student that comes to Snow to transfer to another institution,” said Greg Dart, Snow College director of public relations.
Ninety percent of Snow students that transfer continue on to schools in Utah. But in the past five years, Snow has transferred students to all 50 states, including schools like Princeton, Cornell and Julliard.
Dart said Snow College, a school of between 3,500 and 4,000 students, is unique because it is a two-year resident school.
“When most people think of a two-year school they think of a community college,” Dart said. “At Snow, students make a conscious decision to leave home and to choose Snow College.”
The school has the benefits of small class sizes, faculty-taught classes and opportunities for students to get involved while still providing a top-notch education, Dart said.
For Dawe, who was a shy and reserved high school graduate, the small campus was a huge draw. The small group setting helped Dawe socialize and get involved.
“It ended up being a really great place to start because it was small enough where I got personal attention, but it was big enough where I could try lots of different things and figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life,” Dawe said.
Dawe was a student body officer who planned service projects and worked to bridge the gap between students and the community. During her freshman year, Dawe organized a fundraiser where for every $100 raised, someone would lose his or her first kiss. Not only did Dawe help raise $1,200 for families in the community, she also lost her first kiss, all in good fun.
Jackie Palsson, now a BYU student, decided to attend Snow because of a full scholarship offer and fond childhood memories of camping in Sanpete County. When she transferred, she was able to receive a full academic scholarship at BYU because only her grades from Snow were taken into consideration.
“It was very beneficial for me to go to Snow first because I haven’t had to pay for any of my education,” Palsson said in an email.
In comparing BYU and Snow, both Palsson and Dawe mentioned how the gospel of Jesus Christ is intertwined in education at both universities–obviously at BYU and subtly at Snow.
“Teachers would hint at certain things because they were religious, but it’s not as open as it is [at BYU],” Dawe said. “I love it that we can pray in classes [at BYU] and openly talk about the gospel.”
Size is another major difference the women noticed, specifically in classes. Both schools want students to be successful, Dawe said, but it is harder at BYU because there are so many students.
“I feel that teachers are more concerned about each of their students because class size is quite small,” Palsson said. “You actually get to interact with your professor because there are not 100-200 more students in your class.”
Started as a stake academy under the direction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1888, Snow College is now state-run. Dart also serves on the local city council and said the town of Ephraim is greatly enriched by the school.
“The school is really the lifeblood of the community,” he said. “It’s the largest employer and Ephraim has a lot of advantages that a town of its size wouldn’t have without a college … [it’s] a great community partner.”
For one, it is the only town in about 60 miles with a Walmart. But more importantly, the school provides services to members of the community such as world-class plays and concerts, Dart said.
Current BYU students say they are grateful for their experiences at Snow College.
“It gave me my roots,” Dawe said. “It helped me be confident.”
Dawe said it’s important to get involved whether at a small or large institution.
“No matter where you are, there are a lot of opportunities, I think you just have to find them,” she said.