Denied at BYU and want to change the process

Some background. My daughter has wanted to attend BYU since she was a child. She has the grades, gets up every morning at 4:45 AM for early morning seminary, her essays were looked over by a MIT professor, whole package.

She applied to one other backup school. This school had 23,000 applications for 1,600 spots. She secured one of those with no issue AND a $125,000 scholarship. So, BYU should be a shoo in, right?

Nope. We got a “Dear John” rejection letter from them this weekend. We applied early (September 1) so they had her application for FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS before making a decision.

The worst part of this is that they don’t provide any feedback as to what they found lacking in her application. I reached out to them and they were extremely unhelpful falling back on the “holistic approach” nonsense.

I found other forums online however and found a kid who posted “Yea! Just joined this church six months ago and so excited to get my acceptance letter to Provo” I mean, what?? My child has been getting up for early morning seminary for four years and this kid shows up in the 9th inning and gets in?

Another parents said their kid was 3rd in their class, two summer internships at an engineering firm, all the church stuff etc, and didn’t get in.

Another candidate had 450 hours of community service logged in high school - didn’t get in.

But new guy did. The only thing I can think of is that this is a lottery system. They have talented kids applying and just put their names in a hat and draw them. Which is fine - but disclose that. Don’t lie and claim it’s a “holistic approach” when it’s clearly not.

There is no appeals process and really now nothing we can do aside from going to a school that she doesn’t want to go to because BYU deemed other people more “worthy” of attendance.

I think I am just frustrated with a school that behaves this way. If it is an institute of higher education then there should be a focus on academics - when you have students who clearly outshine another candidate, why are they getting in? This has been a problem at this school for years and I would love to see if anyone has a suggestion for reforming the system.

No parent or student should have to go through this.


I’m sorry your D wasn’t admitted to BYU. While this is certainly a good place to come to vent, we can only speculate why your D wasn’t admitted.

Holistic admission is just that, and the school is building a class based on their desired mix of students. You don’t know what the applications of those accepted students looked like, so you can’t know that they didn’t ‘outshine’ your D. Not all high stat students will be accepted, nor all of those with a history of seminary participation, etc.

Did she meet all of the HS academic requirements here?:

Perhaps her essays and/or LoRs were lacking, again, no one but admissions knows.

It’s great that your D has been accepted to another school, so focus on that. If in fact she doesn’t want to go there, please post her stats and desired characteristics of a college and posters can suggest colleges that may still be taking applications (there are many).

Good luck.

A few things stand out in your post:

  1. Schools usually won't tell you why you weren't admitted. That's not unique to BYU.
  2. We were given this analogy when my D was applying to Duke by one of their admissions officers: We look at our admissions like we are drafting a football team. We could get a lot of applicants who are perfect quarterbacks. But, if we already have a quarterback, we might not admit them. We instead might admit a kicker or linebacker with different qualities. Sometimes it's not that your child is not qualified, it's that your child doesn't fit whatever "position" they are trying to fill.
  3. Look at the threads under almost every competitive college on CC. You will see millions of stories like your daughters. It's sad, but admissions does not make sense. You will see kids with near perfect stats not admitted over those who seem less impressive. But, you never know the story/background of the kid who was admitted. Something in their application stood out and stuck a cord with the admissions department. It's not always all about numbers. In fact, I think it's often about personality and fit. Maybe the essay edited by the MIT grad didn't show enough of your daughter's personality?
  4. Getting into one school does not predict admissions into another school. I know tons of kids who got into more "competitive" schools but were not admitted into those they considered an easier admit. That's why most people here recommend at least one safety and several matches when you're applying.
  5. It's sad that your daughter did not have a backup plan that she was excited about.

At this point, there isn’t anything you can do about what happened. My suggestion: Get out your anger and frustration at BYU and move on. Do your best to get your daughter excited about where she was accepted. Figure out what clubs interest her. Can she do an overnight visit so she can “see” herself there? What opportunities (research, etc) are there that might interest her? Help her see that there is no ONE perfect college for someone. Most of my D’s friends who were disappointed with how admissions went for them are very happy with where they ended up. My D was not admitted to a couple of her top choices. She was admitted to a school she applied to last minute that she considered a long shot. She is a freshman there now and she’s very happy with where she ended up.

Another positive: It sounds like you are going to save some money!

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You really need to post her stats. LDS kids with great stats and good standing won’t be rejected. Kids with low scores though, mess with their rankings. You are outside Utah? And which other school are you referencing? If your kid wasn’t going to attend, BYU may have sniffed that. Did you visit at all? You know what the school is like? If you want to be somewhere where you “can change the system” why would BYU even be in the mix?
And New guy? Well, religions need new recruits, it is part of the system.

there should be a focus on academics<<<


But it is first and foremost, a religious school. It makes no apologies for that.

You are describing the way it works at most American colleges. Why are you surprised? You come off as very entitled.

Just because somebody said something on the internet doesn’t make it true.

I don’t understand why BYU should be a “shoo in” if you know of numerous excellent students who aren’t getting in. Students should have at least a couple safeties on their list. If your daughter doesn’t have any affordable acceptances keep an eye out for the list of schools with open spots. Somebody will post it in early May. Maybe your daughter can find something there.

Hey, I’m not going to join the pile on. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry your daughter didn’t get accepted, and I understand your disappointment and frustration.

I hope she (and you) give yourselves a day or so to wallow, then shake it off, figure out what about BYU appeals to her, so she can see where else to find some of those things, apply and get started on mapping a new course for her.

There is BYU I if the whole brand is important.

She can do what I did and go to community college and then transfer.

Sure, 3.95 UNWEIGHTED Gpa, all AP / Honors classes. 33 on ACT. Her essays were reviewed by a MIT professor as well.

Here is the issue that I have with this. Her friend, in our ward, has a 3.0. She took pottery, dance, painting and introductory math courses. That is fine - I am not making any judgments on her academics BUT she got in and my daughter did not.

I just want an explanation as to why. Her essays could not have been better (she said she didn’t even want to go there and wants to go to BYU I so she said she didn’t take much time to write them)

My daughter has more extracurricular and more volunteer experience as well.

Respectfully, why should she have to go to a community college? She is a very smart kid (not saying you aren’t - I went to a community college myself and got a scholarship for my bachelors and then got my MBA) but she should NEVER have been declined from this school.

Sure, she has a 33 ACT, 3.95 UNWEIGHTED GPA with all AP/ Honors classes. Plenty of volunteer work, community service. Essays were reviewed by a professor at MIT so they are great as well.

Meanwhile, her friend who is taking poetry, painting, and intro to stats this year with a 3.0 GPA got into BYU Provo.

Honestly there are other good schools out there but they are all party schools and I am not comfortable sending my child (who grew up in a LDS community) to a party school so she can get ruffied.

My question is that I want to change this process. I want accountability from BYU. We all know that this is a lottery system and I want someone there to be honest and stop lying.

At this point, we are looking at Utah state, which is a sub par school academically for her but we feel like we have no choice but to stay in Utah for the culture.

I wouldn’t want her to consider that. It has a bad reputation in our community as the “you were too stupid to get into Provo” school. Thanks for the suggestion though :slight_smile:

This is my first child - so I have no experience with “how colleges work” aside from when I went, and I was accepted at every school I went to.

With regard to the “entitlement” portion of your response - when you teach your children if they work hard for something, they can achieve it, and see them work hard and NOT get it, that’s not “entitlement.” She worked for that slot, and deserved it.

Her friend in our ward did NOT work as hard - her friend took painting, poetry, and intro to math this year and has a 3.0 and got in. Her ACT score was not as high either.

So yes, I feel that she was “entitled” to that spot since she muscled through 8 AP classes in her junior and senior year while this kid coasted.

All I am asking for is level playing field and it is CLEARLY not level at BYU.

Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it a lie either. I don’t know why someone would post that if it wasn’t true.

Yes, we have a safety but obviously no one wants to go to their safety school.

My initial question was how to hold BYU accountable for this lottery system that they have veiled as an application process.

I am very sorry about your daughter’s denial. It’s super frustrating when you kid works hard for something and it doesn’t work out as expected. Interestingly, there was a similar thread last year started by an upset parent:

One piece of advice that someone gave there that you might want to consider is to have your daughter’s guidance counselor call the school and see if he or she can get some feedback. I have no idea if that would be successful but they might be more willing to talk to the counselor than a parent. Would you daughter consider transferring there or are you done with BYU? If a transfer is an option then maybe the counselor could explain that your LDS daughter has always dreamed of going to BYU and has not given up yet. What could she do to improve her odds of being accepted as a transfer student?

Also…there a lot of good schools out there where your daughter could have a good experience academically and not be “ruffied”. My D is not a big party girl and chose a school where the culture was not centered around drinking. Regardless, we talked to her about how to keep herself safe in those types of situations just in case.

Could it be a difference in major? My kid goes to a school that is very hard to get into for engineering, but the overall admit rate is high.

Not to dismiss her/your disappointment, but it sounds like you have an amazing daughter and I’m sure she will end up somewhere great!

I appreciate the suggestion but go back to the fact that some of the kids that got in I KNOW coasted. I mean, pottery, painting, introductory classes, 3.0 and she had no issue getting in.

The process is frustrating and frankly unacceptable. All I want is honesty as to what they found lacking in her application.

I am also not a “give up and move on” person. Yes, now we are going to have a lot of trouble just to find a subpar academic school that she doesn’t want to go to, so I want BYU to be accountable.

If there was something lacking in her application, I want to know what it was. I called their legal department and told them I am happy to retain a lawyer because at this point it looks like discrimination. Let them prove me wrong.

That is what I wanted to do with this post - change the awful process these kids go through and make it so it’s a level playing field.

Thank you as well for the kind advice. This is our first child going to college and I appreciate your comments. Glad to hear your daughter likes it at her school as well!