Students say transferring to BYU can be complicated, rewarding process

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The statue of Brigham Young stands in front of the Smoot Administration Building. Transferring to BYU can be a difficult, but worthwhile process. (Elliott Miller)

Editor’s note: this story pairs with “Inside the BYU student transfer process”

Kelsey Jennings hoped to save money and get a head start when she enrolled in college courses as a high school student. But her plans became difficult when she learned that some of her credits wouldn’t fulfill certain general requirements at the school of her choice — Brigham Young University.

“Any other university I got accepted to would have accepted every college credit I had up to that point,” Jennings said. “This is where transferring to BYU is so frustrating.”

Jennings estimated that her credits would only fulfill a few of BYU’s general education courses. That’s when she enrolled in extra classes through Weber State University’s early college program. She was determined to have an associate’s degree by the time she graduated high school. Transferring a completed associate’s degree would satisfy most of BYU’s general education requirements.

“I had no friends, no social life. My weekends were basically doing homework the whole time,” she recalled. “Coming to BYU was the biggest hardship in high school.”

Her work paid off in the end. She earned her associate’s degree a month before graduating high school and transferred her credits to BYU that fall. She’s currently studying chemistry and hopes to graduate in 2019. Jennings believes the effort was worth the trouble even if the transfer process took an emotional toll.

“I knew I needed to come to BYU,” Jennings said. “I knew this was where the Lord needed me to help me be able to achieve the dreams I have.”

Roughly 650 – 700 transfer students enroll at BYU each year, according to University Communications. Some face the same disappointment as Jennings when they learn that their credits don’t satisfy certain requirements. Yet many of these same students find the process to be worth it in the end.

BYU sophomore Chandler Lohner felt prompted to transfer to BYU after spending a year at the University of Washington.

“I decided it wasn’t the right fit. I wished it had more people with my faith,” Lohner said. “So BYU it was. I made the decision to transfer pretty fast.”

Lohner focused on general education courses during her freshman year in Washington. She said a significant portion of those credits don’t fit BYU’s general education requirements.

“It has been a little frustrating taking a year of college and feeling like none of it really counted,” she said.

Lohner said she doesn’t understand why some of her classes don’t match with BYU’s courses and feels that it makes the registration process all the more difficult.

Karen Evans is the director of BYU’s University Advisement Center and works with students who are transferring from other colleges. She said some courses — like American Heritage — are unique and a single class from another university might not fully cover the material taught at BYU.

“American Heritage is not only U.S. history, but it’s the LDS interpretation of the Constitution,” Evans said. “When you just take a U.S. history class at another school, you don’t get the full picture.”

Evans said prospective students should use BYU’s online transfer resources when planning to transfer to BYU.

Some students are willing to go through the transfer process because they see it as an alternative entry point into BYU. Beth Knight enrolled at Utah Valley University when BYU didn’t admit her after high school.

“As soon as I found out I didn’t get into BYU, I applied for UVU,” Knight said. “Registering for classes was pretty easy. I tried to match them up with classes that I was going to need here at BYU.”

Knight transferred to BYU in 2015 and is working toward a degree in therapeutic recreation. She said most of her classes transferred to BYU without a problem, save a writing class that she had believed would count toward Writing 150. She was disappointed but also saw it as a blessing.

“It ended up being good because I obviously needed to learn how to write again after my mission,” Knight said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Casey Greenwood knew in high school that she wanted to attend BYU to study theater, but she started her education at Weber State University after not being accepted. She hoped to eventually transfer to BYU like Knight. Attending BYU was especially important to Greenwood because she didn’t want to worry about compromising her standards.

“After attending Weber State for that year, it was even more clear to me that I wanted to go to BYU,” Greenwood said. “I was always worried about what kind of scene I would be assigned, what kind of language might be in it.”

She took 18 credit hours her first semester to be eligible to transfer. Finally getting the acceptance letter was an important moment, according to Greenwood.

“I was extremely relieved,” she said. “I felt like my life was back on track.”

But transferring to BYU came with a major setback. Greenwood had taken mostly theater classes at Weber State. Those credits didn’t count toward the theater program at BYU.

“I lost everything,” Greenwood said. “I’ve had to retake a lot of classes that were similar.”

Greenwood believes the transfer has made the graduation process longer by at least a year, but she’s at peace with the sacrifice she had to make. She doesn’t mind retaking theater classes.

“I like my Weber State background. I think it gives me a little bit of diversity and a little bit of a different perspective,” Greenwood said. “There are so many things I want to do that I can only do during college, so I don’t really mind the fact that college takes a long time.”

Lohner agreed that transferring to BYU was the right choice for her in the end, despite the setbacks that came from her decision.

“Staying there [at the University of Washington] might have made it easier to get all my credits and graduate on time,” Lohner said. “But I knew that wasn’t what’s best for me, so I’ve kind of had to just go for it. Sure, there’s been a lot of difficulties, but I’m happier here.”

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