After serving an LDS mission to Germany, I graduated from Ricks College with an associates degree in German in 1997. At the time, as most of you know, Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho (“BYU-I”) did not offer four year degrees, so I transferred to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah to complete my undergraduate degree, which I did in 1999. From there, of course, I attended several graduate schools.
As I journeyed through graduate school, I was impressed with the comparatively large representation of students at the various institutions with undergraduate degrees from BYU. My anecdotal evidence tells me that BYU graduates generally do very well obtaining admission to top graduate schools in various fields around the United States and in the world (and see also John’s opinion regarding BYU). My conclusion is that BYU graduates who wish to attend graduate school will probably be able to. I wonder if the same can be said for those who receive bachelor’s degrees at BYU-I?
During my first year of graduate school, the LDS Church announced that Ricks College was going to be a four year school with the name of BYU-I, and in 2004 BYU-I received accreditation at the baccalaureate level by the Northwest Association on Colleges and Universities. April 2003 marked “the first time during BYU-Idaho commencement exercises that a senior class has been awarded bachelor’s degrees since the school became a four-year institution, although several bachelor’s degree were presented in April 2002.”
Now that it has been nearly 5 years since the first BYU-I bachelor’s degrees were bestowed, I wonder how BYU-I graduates have fared with getting into graduate school. Does anyone have any insights about this? Any BYU-I alumni reading out there care to share any anecdotal evidence?
[UPDATE: I e-mailed the head of BYU-I’s Career and Advising Center to ask if they have gathered any such statistics. I’ll be interested to see what he says.
HERE IS HIS RESPONSE:
I wish I could give you some firm statistics, but the university is currently figuring out just how to track that information with any kind of validity. What I can share with you is the anecdotal evidence I have seen as I have worked with students planning on going to graduate school. What I have observed is that our students are being quite successful in getting into graduate programs and we actually have quite a few students who go on to do graduate work. As I have talked with graduate programs they typically state that they don’t see much of a difference in the level of preparedness between BYU-Idaho and BYU in Provo students and that they love to have them both because of their standards and work ethic. The reports that I hear are that our students are doing quite well as they pursue their graduate education and in some cases have been at the top of their class. As for the type of programs our student go to, this is all across the board. We have had students accepted to graduate programs at Harvard Medical and Dental Schools, U of Washington Medical School (#1 in the nation), Yale Law School, etc. The majority of our students, however, fit very nicely in well respected state schools.
Now, all this being said, it is important to make a clear distinction between BYU-Idaho and many other Undergraduate programs. The primary purpose of BYU-Idaho is to prepare students for the work force. What this means is that we don’t pretend to be the best school in preparing students for some of the graduate programs that a student could apply for. We are primarily a teaching institution and not a research institution, so for some graduate programs that are research intense, another undergraduate university might serve some students better. For many graduate programs our students are very well prepared at BYU-Idaho, but not all due to our primary focus. It would be important for a prospective student to talk with the faculty at BYU-Idaho to determine if we can help them achieve their goals.
The bottom line is that a student needs to understand that it is rarely the University they attend that gets them into graduate school, it is their level of personal commitment. For many graduate programs a dedicated student can find exactly what they need at BYU-Idaho to make them a prime candidate for graduate school.
I agree with what he said about the “level of personal commitment” being one of the deciding factors for students to get into graduate school, and that “a dedicated student can find exactly what they need at BYU-Idaho to make them a prime candidate for graduate school.” Still, based on what he said, my guess is that BYU-Idaho would probably best prepare students for professional graduate schools, such as business school, law school or medical school (to the extent it’s considered a “professional school.”)
I think it would be an interesting project for someone to gather and maintain hard data on this for both BYU and BYU-I. ]