I decided to take a moment away from writing about economics and politics to help people who want a quality education for very little money know how to do so. This is also to help others prepare to come to school at BYU-Idaho.
Just to be clear, this article is not to scare anybody off from coming to BYU-Idaho. It’s meant to be a preparation guide so that you know what you’re wanting to do and so that you can be prepared for anything here. Anybody that knows about the BYU schools knows that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) owns and operates the schools. There’s a section in this article specifically for those who aren’t Mormon, as well as parts of other sections, so they can feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of a church school.
Preparation for BYU-Idaho
Before you go nuts and start applying right now, you should know a few things that might be helpful. You might benefit from institute and/or community college before attending BYU-Idaho. Here at BYU-Idaho, there are religion courses and other general education courses called foundations and everybody is required to take them. However, if you’re able to get a few things under your belt, you can sidestep some of it.
The religion courses here are very spiritual. Even if you graduated from institute, you would still have to take a class called Family Foundations. On top of this, all courses might not transfer. I would say that you should work on your scripture based courses. More specifically, the Book of Mormon classes. At institute, it’s free. At BYU-Idaho, you pay for it in your tuition. You will also run into some scripture based religion teachers who will treat your class like a hard philosophy class and hand out tons of busy work. It’s not always like that if you use Rate My Professor.
If you’re wanting to avoid taking scripture based religion courses, you should focus on taking at least two Book of Mormon classes and two or three other classes such as Old Testament, New Testament, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. You can most likely (without guarantee) transfer these courses and only have to take three religion courses such as Family Foundations.
There are just some courses you can’t get out of taking. For example, you cannot get out of taking your capstone class(es). You can, however, get out of taking some English and math courses. If your major isn’t very heavily math oriented, just learn about the time value of money (TVM), basic probability, and introduction to statistics. You can then test out of MATH 108, a math class everybody has to take. If your major is heavily math oriented (i.e. economics or engineering), you should look at taking, at the very least, up through college algebra. For English, you have English 101 and 201 that you take here at BYU-Idaho. You should take up to a 200 level English course.
As far as science, humanities, and American foundations, I’m not sure what to tell you. Science may be hard to get out of taking. Same with humanities. American foundations is a unique course offered to help people form their own political opinions as well as build a foundation for social studies.
Applying to the School: Application and Endorsement
You apply to any of the church schools through one website. Part of your application includes an ecclesiastical endorsement. If you’re Mormon, this means that you meet with your bishop and a member of the stake presidency to get interviewed and endorsed to attend the school If you’re not Mormon, but are a part of another faith, you can used the provided forms to gain endorsement from your ecclesiastical leader. If you’re not Mormon and are not part of any faith (or if your religious leader won’t endorse you out of personal feelings against Mormons), you are able to have an interview with a bishop in your area. The application should give you information on how to go about that.
Part of the interview is to explain that you will have to follow an honor code and that BYU-Idaho’s honor code is significantly stricter than BYU in Provo, Utah. For BYU-Idaho honor code specifics, there’s a section with multiple subsections under “How it works at BYUI.” I will also go over a few points that are different from BYU’s honor code. If you’re not Mormon, you’re expected to keep this honor code. If you’re not keeping the honor code, you could be expelled from any church school. You would then have to reapply to return.
The Honor Code
There are many people who complain about the honor code here. However, there are many more people who will defend it and say that it’s actually not so bad. Compared to LDS missionary standards, the honor code here is amazingly open. There are some points that make it much different from BYU’s honor code.
Beard Card vs. Shaving Exception
At any church school, men are expected to be clean shaven. It’s part of the dress and grooming standards. However, BYU allows you to get what’s called a beard card if your skin is overly sensitive. This means that you go to the student health center and get approved. You then grow out your beard and keep it well groomed. The last step is getting a new student ID card with that awesome beard of yours. BYU-Idaho has no such thing.
At BYU-Idaho, you get what’s called a shaving exception. This means that you’re allowed to clip it closely and basically have the beginnings of a shadow all the time. You’re not allowed to have a full on beard. The testing center will turn you away if you show up with a beard and sometimes even your teachers will ask you to leave and shave.
BYU and BYU-Idaho’s curfew for students who aren’t married is midnight. But the difference between the two is in the curfew itself. At BYU-Idaho, you have to be back in your apartment by midnight. At BYU, you just need to be out of the opposite sex’s apartment by midnight. You could sit on the steps until 4:30 in the morning if you’d like. This seems awfully strict, but there’s always a reason for such rules.
BYU is located in Provo, Utah, a city with over 100,000 people. BYU-Idaho is located in Rexburg, Idaho, a small city of 25,000 before you start counting the students. It is indeed a rural area. There is a lot more to do in Provo past curfew. In Rexburg, even Walmart closes at 11:00 PM. The only places that are open are gas stations and Domino’s Pizza (until 12:30 AM). If you’re out for work reasons, you’re allowed to be out past curfew for that as long as you go back to your apartment if you get off during curfew.
Flip-Flops, Shorts, and Capris
I don’t know where on Earth this rule came from, to be honest. I do know, however, that it’s not such a bad rule. BYU-Idaho doesn’t allow flip-flops, shorts, or capris on campus. Obviously, there is approved exercise clothing you buy so you can wear shorts while you work out or swim. But the school doesn’t allow it in class or in the testing center. You can read about it in its entirety here. If you’re wanting to wear open toed shoes, that’s a different story. It says flip-flops and other casual footwear in the honor code. This does not mean that you cannot wear sandals. You cannot wear the flip-flop in any style, sandal or thong. However, normal sandals like Chacos are allowed.
If you think about it, it’s probably for the best that you don’t wear such footwear that isn’t allowed. If you’re a science major and spill chemicals on your feet, you’ll be happy to have something covering them. If you’re on campus and someone steps on your foot, it’s not the end of the world. Just remember that there are many reasons to why rules are made.
Acceptance and Enrollment
The thing about BYU-Idaho is that it’s really hard to get rejection letters. The acceptance rate is 99%. The thing you should do next is fill out your scholarship application(s) and fill out the required forms to figure out your track. There’s a three track system at BYU-Idaho. This means that the school has three semesters and each track contains two semesters. The tracks are Fall/Winter, Winter/Spring, and Spring/Fall. You should also keep fast track in mind. After a while, and a certain GPA, you can apply for fast track, the quicker way to graduating. It’s where you attend all three semesters, leaving you with just a seven week break. You have to apply for this every year.
If you have a major, declare it and figure out what your degree audit is. If you haven’t had a chance to see what courses are available and what your degree audit is, here’s the current 2014 – 2015 course catalog.
Touring BYU-Idaho’s Campus
If you’re not too far away, coming to take a tour of the campus isn’t a bad idea. The school understands that many people cannot come out and explore the campus. Because of this you can tour campus by video, exploring the different buildings and learning what they’re used for. You should look at the map and click on “buildings” so you can easily find out where your classes will be.
Find an Apartment
You should immediately find an apartment that fits your budget and desired location. If you’re a single student, you can look at a list of apartment complexes here. If you’re married, here’s a list of apartment complexes in the area. Married students can live anywhere except BYU-Idaho approved housing, which is only available to the single students. Married students should be prepared for the high rates of rent.
Single students should seriously pick their apartment based on location. I say this because you will want all the time you can get for your homework. The quicker you can get your homework done, the more time you will have for whatever else you want to do.
Jobs and Financial Aid
If you work at a national chain, see if your business is in Rexburg and see if you can get transferred. If you work on campus, you might only make $500 – $700 per month. Be sure you ask your parents if you’re going to be claimed as a dependent on their taxes. I say this because you need to make sure that you’re as independent as possible when it comes to your FAFSA. There’s some times where you cannot avoid your parents’ tax information on your FAFSA. If you can get to the point of not needing them on your FAFSA, you will get a lot more in financial aid.
If you’re a single student and are able to get a full pell grant and a good amount of loans, you could easily live on your loans. If you don’t have a car payment, have a good low rate for insurance, pay little or nothing for your cell phone bill, you can live on your loans and learn much about budgeting. Use Amazon to buy bulk items if you can’t make it to Costco in Pocatello. There is a Sam’s Club in Idaho Falls, which is only 30 minutes away from Rexburg.
Find a Society or Association
Many schools will have clubs and associations. The way it works at BYU-Idaho is great. Student associations are mainly for language and culture. They’re great for getting together with mission friends from international missions or if you’re just interested in the culture. The societies here on campus are amazing as well. What they try to do is help you get your foot in the door to your future. For example, the investment society gives its members the experience of working at an investment bank as students. Sure, you’re allocating funds for the school. But it’s for learning and gaining experience. You’re an analyst for the school. This way, you can have something great for your resume.
If You’re Not Mormon
It’s okay if you’re not Mormon. You’re still welcome to attend BYU-Idaho. There will be some things you might not be used to such as devotional, religion classes, and church. I wasn’t Mormon my whole life. I joined the church when I was 19 and still in community college. I understand where you’re coming from when it comes to the awkwardness of feeling like you’re the only one in a million people. This section really is to help you understand that it’s not so bad here even if you’re not Mormon. In fact, I would say that your diversity would definitely help in our environment.
Devotional is on Tuesday afternoons and all of campus shuts down for it. The point of devotional is not only to have a break from studies, it’s to spiritually uplift and recharge us. Church is one place this happens, but devotional is on a school-wide scale. It’s also much more relative to you than normal church is if you attend another faith. I have personally come out of devotional feeling much better than I did before going in. I know that you can feel much better about your day by attending devotional. If you choose to not attend devotional, that’s okay too! There are many times that I don’t attend devotional.
I’m sure you’re wondering about this. If you’re not Mormon, there is an introduction to Mormonism class for you to take. There are also other classes you have to take with the rest of the student body. Before you start saying, “I’m never going there!” think about something for a moment. Any school that you attend with a religious affiliation will usually make you take a course or two in religion. It just happens. In addition to that thought, understand that although it would be amazing if you decided to join the church and become a Mormon, you don’t have to and nobody is going to try and get you to. You might have some people share the positivities of being Mormon and why they like it. But you are under no obligation to join our faith.
The honor code requires people to attend church. It shouldn’t be that surprising since the school is just wanting everybody to have a more firm testimony and belief in Christ by the time they graduate. You don’t have to attend our faith. You could attend your faith’s services if you feel more comfortable with that. In fact, you’re encouraged to attend your own faith. If you’re not a member of any faith, you should attend church with us if you do not plan on attending any other faith’s services.
The Honor Code
There is something about the honor code you may or may not be used to. There’s rules that apply to you when you’re not on campus too. One example of this is what’s called the word of wisdom and the law of chastity. The word of wisdom prohibits Mormons from consuming coffee, tea, or using tobacco. The law of chastity prohibits Mormons from having premarital sex and then sex only with their spouse once they’re married. There is also a prohibition from pornography and masturbation. You’re expected to live these standards not only when you’re here but when you’re away from Rexburg and BYU-Idaho as well. If you’re a male, you might not like having to shave or keep your hair neat. Dating is allowed and always encouraged at BYU-Idaho. Having your hair nice and well groomed is something many women just like whether they’re Mormon or not.
Science and Politics
As you might have guessed, Idaho is a very conservative state with a few liberals here and there. You might be wondering how science is taught here in regards to the big bang theory or evolution. The thing is that the school does teach about these things. You might think that American foundations is a class to convert people into Republicans, but this is simply not true. As mentioned earlier, the whole point of American foundations is to help you have a political opinion for yourself. The reason why scientific theories such as the big bang theory and evolution are taught is because the school, and the church, wants you to figure out for yourself what you believe.
Many people come to BYU-Idaho preconditioned to think as their parents have taught and not for themselves. This is not only socially dangerous but it’s spiritually dangerous. I have met many people here who have had issues with themselves because their parents said one thing and they are taught to go ahead and think the opposite if that’s what they really believe. So if you don’t want to believe in creationism, then don’t. If you don’t want to start thinking like a conservative Republican, then don’t. the only way you will believe or think like that is if you let yourself do so. The school doesn’t program or brainwash.
Prayer in Class
We’re a very different school from BYU. One distinction is that most teachers will pray before they start the class. This might seem weird at first, but after a while you might think differently. I used to think it was really awkward. Now I’m really glad we do so. It keeps the class quiet at the beginning of class and it also helps us understand how serious it is that we’re in college. You’re not required to participate in the prayer if you don’t want to. Just know that it will happen.
I really hope that this has been insightful for you. I really hope that you consider attending BYU-Idaho. This school has so many amazing resources that I cannot stress enough how nice it is to have these things on your resumé. You will graduate with a better understanding of who you are. This school does everything they can to help you think for yourself and become the man or woman you were foreordained to become.