While I loved my time at Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-Idaho), there are a few thing that I wish I had known before I arrived. Here are some tips to help you settle in once you get there.
1.) BYU-Idaho is not BYU.
With BYU’s competitive acceptance rate, and BYU-Idaho’s “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” admissions policy, many students plan on starting at BYU-Idaho and then transferring to BYU. But what most people are not aware of is that these schools are similar in name only. BYU-Idaho courses do not transfer well to BYU. In fact, the school has its own general education requirements called “Foundations” that make it hard to transfer anywhere without an associate’s degree. Another difference to note between the sister schools is class size, I had only a handful of classes with more than 40 students.
2.) Choose your major ASAP, and don’t change it.
For many, college is a time of self discovery, a time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. If you do this at BYU-Idaho you will be in trouble. Why? The mission of BYU-Idaho is to get as many students in and out as possible. To ensure that students aren’t dragging their feet on graduating, the university has a high credit hold that will prevent you from registering for classes after you have earned 100 credits (120 minimum are needed to earn a bachelor’s). This hold can only be removed after you have visited an academic advisor and shown them a plan of the classes you are going to take that will get you graduated as soon as possible. Speaking of advisors.
3.) Don’t rely on advisors know your own degree audit.
Every piece of information you need to graduate is online in the catalog and on your personal student page. But to give you an extra hand the school provides academic advisors. Obviously the idea is good, and the advisors themselves aren’t bad, but there is only so much an adviser can notice and discuss about a degree audit in 5 minutes. I worked in the graduation office on campus, reviewing degree audits for completion and awarding diplomas to complete students. Unfortunately, it happens every semester that a student has not met graduation requirements, and angrily shouts at us, “My advisor told me I’d be good to graduate!” The bottom line is, make sure you know your own degree audit, or you might end up sticking around at school longer than you expected.
4.) There’s nothing to do in Rexburg.
This is something you will never stop hearing while you attend school at BYU-Idaho. While it does hold some truth, there are still plenty of activities to keep you busy if you really want to. Dance parties are frequent, during the 2 months when there is no snow on the ground. Although the school lacks professional sporting events, it has a large rec sports community that allows students to participate in athletics, whether they want to play competitively or just for fun. In the past few years the music and performance scene has died off some at BYU-Idaho, but the school still works to give students chances to play at events like Music Outlet, Acoustic Café, or Guitars Unplugged. And, at Sammy’s next to campus, you can pick up a pie shake and see local hipster bands put on a show.
5.) You will either love it or hate it.
There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground on this at BYU-Idaho. Some people attend BYU-Idaho because they love being surrounded by other students with similar values to their own. Others attend because of low tuition costs and high acceptance rates. They are there for the convenience. Most of these type of students hate the restrictive Honor Code, with its sometimes arbitrary rules (no shorts, flip-flops, sweats, strict curfew). And, while snitches get stitches may have been your high school’s policy, the opposite is true at BYU-Idaho.
Students are encouraged by the school, and by other students to report any Honor Code infringements. You will either fit in and love the school, or find yourself wondering why you chose a school in such a cold, desolate place. Although, with its many pros and cons, ultimately it comes down to what you make of it a hell hole or a heaven on earth.
If you want to find out what you must avoid you attend school at BYU-Idaho, check this out.
Michael Briscoe graduated from BYU-Idaho with his B.S. in Sociology in 2014. While at BYU-Idaho he worked as a custodian, and graduation specialist, as well as a manager and performer in various campus performances.