Prospective BYU students can have hope while applying in a pandemic

Prospective BYU students currently do not need to include their ACT or SAT scores on the university’s applications. They are encouraged to focus on the BYU Aims and being authentic while applying. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

Prospective BYU students can look forward to their BYU applications with optimism, even with the most recent changes due to COVID-19.

Director of Admission Services Lori Gardiner said COVID-19 is one of many factors that has impacted the application process and how many students are admitted. The waiving of ACT and SAT test scores became the most notable change.

“BYU has tried hard to stay on top of the ever-changing issues surrounding the pandemic,” Gardiner said.

Admissions and the Financial Aid and Scholarships Offices recognized it would be difficult for applicants to take standardized tests because of the effects of COVID-19, she said. All of these offices worked closely with the President’s Council to make the decision to go test-optional for this school year.

“BYU Admissions will continue its holistic review as it processes admission applications, considering involvement and accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years,” an August 2020 press release reads.

Applying students would not be penalized for offering pass/fail grades, it continued. Students limited in the activities they could pursue due to the pandemic were also not disadvantaged.

Media relations manager Todd Hollingshead said BYU had a 59% acceptance rate during the Spring/Summer/Fall 2021 admissions cycle, with 7,309 out of 12,379 applicants accepted. This was the first admissions cycle with optional test scores.

For the previous Spring/Summer/Fall 2020 semesters, the university accepted 7,942 out of 11,593, with a 68.5% acceptance rate.

Gardiner said students who hope to be admitted to BYU for next Winter Semester and beyond should focus on and evaluate how BYU’s aims can mold their lives.

“Future students should be familiar with the Aims of a BYU Education and should try to live a life that is aligned with the Aims,” she said. “It’s also important for students to be authentic in their applications. They should answer the prompts and do their best to give Admissions a clear picture of who they are.”

Blaise Carroll, a high school senior from Cumming, Georgia said getting into BYU was worth going through every stressful part of living through the pandemic. He received his acceptance letter on Feb. 15, the most recent admissions decision day.

Carroll said COVID-19 prevented him from attending classes in-person at the end of his junior year and the entirety of his senior year of high school.

Getting good grades became harder while learning online and certain classes were cut out of his school entirely, he said. It was at least encouraging to know the SAT score would be an optional part of BYU’s application.

Carroll said applying was an overall fun experience and he is excited to become a part of the BYU community. “Getting into BYU is something I’ve wanted since I was a little kid — it’s always been my dream. Opening the (acceptance) letter was a really surreal moment.”

Katie Jenks is an upcoming transfer student from Dixie State University. Her advice to future BYU applicants is to be open minded when applying to colleges. (Katie Jenks)

Provo native Katie Jenks never thought she wanted to attend BYU and didn’t even apply to the university her senior year of high school. She’s been a pre-nursing major at Southern Utah University for two years now.

Jenks came back to Provo for SUU’s past fall break and decided to visit the BYU Wilkinson Student Center. While she was there, she felt a strong sense of peace as she looked at scriptures and gospel art on the walls.

She then decided to apply to BYU, knowing the pandemic had changed the application and hoping for the best. She was ecstatic when her acceptance letter arrived.

“BYU offers the aspect of putting Christ into our education unlike anywhere else. For me, that’s so important; I realized that BYU is where I want to be so I rushed to start applying,” Jenks said.

Her advice to future applicants is to keep an open mind while applying to colleges. She said it may seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth applicants’ time to send applications to many schools.

“I never thought I would go to BYU, I never planned on going there. I was so closed-minded. Just apply everywhere. Don’t be afraid of the yes’s or no’s,” Jenks said.

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