Most Utah County residents agree that Brigham Young University is not the university of Utah County and the county needs another four-year school.
In fact, many are saying that BYU's tough enrollment standards and its enrollment cap are the reasons that the county needs another university. Most agree that it's just too difficult to get accepted into BYU.But BYU officials are saying that is not entirely true and BYU does serve the local population more than most people think. In fact, percentagewise, the chances of local high school graduates attending BYU are quite high.
"If people are prepared, they have a pretty good chance of getting in to BYU," said Paul Richards, director of BYU public communications.
Richards said most people assume it's difficult to get accepted at BYU because of the low percentage of Utah County students who enroll at BYU each year, when in actuality a very low percentage of local high school graduates apply for admission.
Of those that do apply, a high percentage are accepted.And not everyone who is accepted ends up enrolling at BYU.
For the 1989-90 school year, only about 12 percent of Utah County seniors applied for admission to BYU. About 89 percent of those who applied were accepted and about 69 percent of those who applied actually enrolled.
Twenty-six percent of BYU's 1989-90 freshmen population came from Utah. And 32 percent of that number came from Utah County.
"So as you can see it's not BYU's doing that many local students are not coming to BYU, it's their own doing," Richards said.
Richards said the percentage of transfer students accepted into BYU is also quite high. About 66 percent of all transfer students who applied for acceptance in 1989 were accepted. About 67 percent of Utah Valley Community College students who applied for admission were accepted.
Despite the high acceptance percentages, Richards admission to BYU is more difficult than it used to be. However, it's not any more difficult for Utah County students than it is for other students.
More people are applying to BYU because of the increased membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the school's owner.
"BYU is facing a larger and larger pool of prospective students. The church keeps growing, but BYU doesn't," Richards said.
No geographical considerations are used in determining whether to accept a student or not, Richards said. The school has no quotas and selects students through the same process regardless of where they live.
Richards said most people think grade point average is the most important factor in being accepted at BYU. He said more attention is given to the type of courses students take. A student who takes college preparation courses is more likely to be admitted than someone who does not take college preparation courses but has a higher grade point average.
"Some will not apply because they don't feel they have a chance. We're saying that they may be pleasantly surprised, that if they are prepared they can get in. But we can't admit them if they don't apply," Richards said.
One reason that may explain the low percentage of local students applying to BYU is that high school counselors know what BYU's requirements are and may be steering students elsewhere. Counselors may believe that many of those students who want to attend BYU can't get in.
John Williams, counselor at Orem High School, said in some instances that is the case. He said when informing students about their options, grades, class difficulty and preparation are strongly considered.
However, Williams agrees that if a student meets the qualifications, then his or her chances of being accepted at BYU are excellent.
"If they have taken the right classes, are prepared and get their papers in early, we tell then that they have a good chance of being accepted," Williams said.