MythBusters: Making the grade at BYU


Many high school-aged Latter-day Saints grow up hoping to attend BYU, but relatively few of them are chosen.

According to, only 55 percent of the 12,500 applicants were admitted to the university for Fall 2012, leaving thousands of others to wonder why they didn’t make the cut.

Both students and prospective students alike find the BYU admissions process to be a little mysterious, but the staff there has an open door policy.(Photo by Tasha Singer)
Students and prospective students alike find the BYU admissions process to be a little mysterious, but the staff has an open-door policy. (Photo by Tasha Singer)

Over the years, myths surrounding the BYU admissions process have formed.

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Courtney Howle, a sophomore from Justin, Texas, said she’s heard some students have been denied for not being well rounded enough.

“I think it’s strange that some people, from what I hear, aren’t accepted into BYU because of a lack of extracurricular activities even though they were academically adequate,” Howell said.

Kayli Wakefield, from Pleasant Grove, said she’s heard that BYU admissions is a more spiritual process.

“Since it’s BYU, I’ve heard they pray about each person that applies, and that decides whether or not the person should be accepted,” Wakefield said.

Todd Hollingshead, manager of BYU Media Relations, clarified what is true and what unknowns have turned into rumors about being admitted to BYU.

The admissions committee inputs applicant information into a formula  that makes the admission decision.

Every application is thoroughly examined by two admissions committee members. Each committee member reviews the application independent of each other; they then come together to make a final decision on whether or not that applicant should be accepted. There is no formula or computer program where the numbers are plugged in and out comes a “yes” or “no.”

“(Each applicant) is considered on a holistic basis, which means they’re considering all the elements of the application and they are also done on a case-by-case basis,” Hollingshead said.

The admissions committee prays about each applicant.

Because the committee members review the applications privately, he or she can do whatever mental pondering or meditation they feel is necessary to make a decision. There is no instruction to pray or not to pray.

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Participants in the Visiting Student Program have a better chance of being accepted in the fall semester.

Some students believe the Visiting Student Program to be an audition for full-time student status, but no such backdoor approach exists. Applying and participating in the Visiting Student Program is a completely different application process than the standard BYU student application.

If a student would like to attend BYU as a full-time student for fall semester, they can include in the application that they participated in the Visiting Student Program, but it is not a guarantee that they will be accepted. 

The admissions office is hiding something about the acceptance process and, therefore, will not speak with media representatives.

Truth is, there is no secret. The admissions office refers all media representatives to the communications department not because they are trying to hide anything, but because it is the job of the communications staff to handle all interviews relating to questions about the university. It is simply a job-work split.

The number of accepted students will increase due to the change in missionary ages and a lack of freshman.

There has been much speculation concerning how the recent change in missionary age will affect both enrollment and admissions at BYU. At this point, university officials are still just as curious as students.

“It’s hard to tell,” Hollingshead said. “We still won’t know. We do take into account that in two years we expect the numbers to normalize out again.”

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