Michelle Barlow is following in the family footsteps. She is the fifth Barlow child to attend LDS Business College.
There will be more. She has 11 brothers and sisters. Two will join her for the winter quarter. Greg and Leslie Barlow will soon be released from their LDS missions and will attend the college on scholarships awarded specifically to returned missionaries.Although it's part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' higher-education system, LDS Business College is unlike its sister institutions - Brigham Young University, Ricks College and BYU-Hawaii - in one big way. While the others are at or above their enrollment limits, LDS Business College has plenty of room for the Barlows and other students like them.
The enrollment ceiling, set by the college's board of trustees, is 1,500 students. Fall quarter's enrollment is about half that number - 751 students.
Officials say the empty spaces aren't indicative of a dying institution. Quite the opposite. In the last four years, the enrollment has increased 24 percent.
But college officials think that perhaps the two-year college hasn't grown as quickly as other church and public higher-education institutions because of a misconception of the college's role.
"We've had a very low profile, even though we're 104 years old. We were known, primarily in the early days, as a secretarial school, and we've not been known for the breadth of education that is available now," said President Kenneth H. Beesley.
Michelle Barlow agrees. A 1989 Bountiful High graduate, she said she didn't always plan on attending the two-year business college. She'd grown up with the idea of attending the church-owned Brigham Young University, the alma mater of her parents, Gary and Dorothy Barlow.
But after her older siblings, who had first attended BYU but had trouble finding jobs to finance their educations, switched to the business college, she readjusted her sights. She says she's glad she did.
"The quality of the instruction is incredible. You sit in a class of 30 or fewer and the faculty member teaches the class. You can go up to him after class and talk about things. Having a teaching assistant is not my style but that's what I'd get up at the U. I like to talk to the man in charge of the class," said Barlow, an accounting major who is also the school's student body president.
Sherry Baker, assistant academic dean, said, "It's not a secretarial school, but a top-notch business college. I don't think the church membership, especially outside of Utah, knows we're even here."
Beesley, who became president four years ago, set as one of his goals the job of matching the college's curriculum to today's computer-oriented businesses. The curriculum has been completely overhauled to meet the needs of business and industry. Stenography, for example, was replaced with word-processing.
And the college has installed the equipment to match the curriculum. While the college had eight personal computers when Beesley came, today, because of donations, it has 140 personal computers in several computer labs.
"We have significantly updated the academic programs, the technological thrust of the institution. Our students are much better prepared now," said admissions director Ross Derbidge, who has worked at the college for 23 years.
As its name implies, the college is a business school. But Derbidge thinks many don't realize that the college offers, with its associate in science degree, general education classes that are transferable to a four-year college or university.
Besides the college transfer program, degrees are offered in accounting, business management, fashion merchandising, health services-executive medical assistant and medical secretary, information management, interior design, marketing and office administration (executive secretary, legal secretary, administrative assistant, etc.). Certificates are available for bookkeepers, medical assistants, medical coders and medical transcriptionists.
Because the college is a church school, all students, including nonmembers, must follow church standards of dress and behavior. Only 4 percent of the student body does not belonged to the LDS Church.
All full-time students are required to take religion classes. LDS students are assigned to a student ward with peers from the University of Utah and Westminster College.
Unlike other church schools, nonmember students do not pay a higher tuition rate. This year's rate for all students taking 11 to 20 credit hours is $550 per quarter.
The school has a number of available scholarships, including those specifically designed for returned missionaries. Dean of Students Camille Fronk said financial awards range from $100 to full tuition. Federal student loans are also available.
The college also has a placement office that helps locate jobs for students who are working their way through college and helps find employment for students upon graduation, she said.
LDS Business College
Age: 104 years old
Tuition: $550 per quarter
Length of study: Two years
Fields of study: General education-college transfer, accounting, business management, office administration, information management (computers), marketing, interior design, fashion merchandising, health services.