I applied to three colleges my senior year. The first rejected me (twice), and the second offered me a scholarship large enough to pay for a year’s worth of laundry. (The generosity was overwhelming.) But I was more concerned with the third college: Brigham Young University. And when BYU stopped playing hard-to-get and finally texted me back “K, fine,” I melted onto my living room floor with relief.
That was February 2013. BYU is becoming more competitive as the years go by. There is a chance that had I applied to BYU a few years later, I might not have been accepted. And as a bright-eyed eighteen-year-old Mormon, that would have crushed me.
For some seniors, a college rejection letter is but a minor setback. However, for some of the 6,000 Mormons that apply for BYU that don’t get in, this rejection letter can seem like a blow to their faith, family legacy, and even future marriage prospects.
But not getting to BYU doesn’t have to shatter our dreams. Here are a few things to remember when you don’t get into BYU.
You are brilliant
The BYU your parents, or even your siblings applied to, is vastly different from today’s BYU. Around 8,500 people applied to BYU in 2005, according to The Daily Universe. In 2016 the applicant pool increased to almost 13,500—and more than 6,000 were rejected. I think it might be easier to get into the celestial kingdom!
So when BYU turns you away, it is not because you weren’t smart or capable enough. The fact that you felt confident enough to apply is evidence of your brilliance!
If you have perfectionist tendencies as I had (have), I would admonish you not to think any less of your intellect, your talents, and your experiences. You will find an institution that embraces who you are and what you want to do. (Often times, where you get your undergraduate degree is far less important than where you obtain advanced degrees.)
Most importantly, your acceptance into BYU does not affect your acceptance by the Lord.
You can still be an active member of the Church
I think we’ve all seen members of our ward, even role models, go off to a non-Church school and spiral quickly out of church activity. Because of these examples, we may think the opposite is true: if we go to a church school, we will remain active.
Neither assumption will help. BYU is home to a variety of Mormons: active, less active, and “What’s the name of that one guy who translated the Book of Mormon?” All of this seems to tell us one thing: standing in a holy place has less to do with geographical coordinates and more to do with our choices.
Choosing to adhere to your faith is a result of your agency, not a result of being a Cougar.
And when you choose to remain faithful, imagine the profound influence you can have on those around you at a secular university. You don’t have to go the “Lord’s University” to do the Lord’s work. In fact, sometimes, it’s harder.
In my YSA ward at BYU, I have heard numerous accounts of students wishing they had more opportunities to share the gospel. Of course, there are non-members, less active members, and even active members that can use a helping hand, but those opportunities aren’t always clear.
If you go somewhere else, those opportunities are clear as day. And you might be the only Mormon other people know at school.Only through you can they know the truth about how magically comfortable our underwear is.
At BYU, you are another light in the electronics section of Target. But when you embark on your collegiate journey elsewhere, you become a lighthouse.
You’ll still get married
Okay, we’re all thinking it. BYU. Enter to flirt, go forth to wed. Your parents got married at BYU, your parents’ parents got married at BYU, and the rest is polygamy, I mean history.
You might be worried that if you don’t go to BYU, your chances of getting married to another member are slim. Remember, remember, sistren and brethren, that Brigham Young University is first and foremost an academic institution, not a marriage manufacturing company.
According to The Daily Universe, 45 percent of BYU grads graduated single in 2009. And at any given time, only 25 percent of students are married. You may waltz into BYU and right back out without ever coming close to a ring (but you’ll have your diploma! Shouldn’t that count for something?). There are even couples who attend BYU, but don’t meet each other until they move somewhere else.
Statistics aside, this fear, like many fears, is incongruent with God’s plan. BYU is a tough school to get into. Do you think God would use your ACT score or GPA, both important to get into BYU, as criteria for you to be married? “That AP chem tanked your GPA. Ring before spring? More like ring before NEVER.”
In other words: chill. You may not meet your spouse in your freshman chemistry class, but you will meet him or her at the best time for you. The Lord will see to it.
BYU is an awesome place, but it’s not the only place. BYU will never unwrite your rejection letter, but you can choose to write your future.