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BYU-Idaho: An academically engaging and dynamic disciple preparation center

Commencement - Dec 2023

“I had no idea before I came here ... ” That is how many students begin their explanations about what they love about Brigham Young University-Idaho. My experience is similar. Before arriving on campus in August 2023 as the new president of BYU-Idaho, I already understood that the university was a place where students could grow in their discipleship of Christ. But what I did not know, and what I have learned since then, is that BYU-Idaho also provides a high-quality education, at an affordable cost, in a fun and uplifting environment.

Disciple preparation center

Elder David A. Bednar, while president of BYU-Idaho and just five weeks before he was called to be an apostle, declared to the students, “Let me suggest that in Rexburg, Idaho, we’re in the process of creating a disciple preparation center.” BYU-Idaho unequivocally embraces its mission to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church and their communities. As students are taught by faithful faculty and interact with peers who share their values, they learn and grow in their discipleship.

BYU-Idaho is intentional about fulfilling its mission. Every campus faculty is interviewed by the president of the university to ensure alignment with the mission. Teachers draw upon both secular and spiritual truths in the classroom. Classes begin with prayer. Classroom teaching bolsters faith in Christ and increases students’ resolve to follow living prophets and apostles.

Each Tuesday, a campus-wide devotional is conducted in the 15,000-seat BYU-Idaho Center. Student wards provide opportunities for spiritual growth and service. Students frequently attend the Rexburg Temple, which sits adjacent to campus. Half of the temple workers are students.

High-quality education 

Since the time my wife Jennifer and I first started asking students what they love about BYU-Idaho, we have heard the enthusiastic reply, “The teachers!” Talented faculty who focus on students are key to the high-quality education at BYU-Idaho.

Students tell us that their teachers know them by name. That is both unique and remarkable in the world of higher education, where large lecture halls are more the norm. Teaching an average class size of under 30, while not being required to do research and publish, allows faculty to stay student focused.

Our highly qualified faculty are experts in their fields; however, their priority is the growth and success of students.
Teachers provide hands-on and real-world learning experiences. Students practice what they are learning that day, rather than talking about doing it someday. Many majors require internships, and students gain this experience in well-known companies.

The high acceptance rate and then abundant support (e.g., free tutoring, mentoring and advising) make it an ideal place for students who wonder if they are college ready. At the same time, BYU-Idaho is a great place for the aspirational student. Nearly 1,600 of our current freshmen had a perfect 4.0 high school GPA and had many university options. But they chose to come to BYU-Idaho because it is unique not only spiritually, but also academically.

There are over 120 degree options at BYU-Idaho, so there are options that meet almost every interest. BYU-Idaho graduates go on to work in all varieties of fields and industries. Search LinkedIn and you’ll see examples of alumni who work at companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and more. They enter competitive graduate schools in many fields; and within 120 days of graduation, almost 90% of our job-seeking graduates have employment. Within one year, that number increases to 94%.

Affordable tuition

It is no secret that escalating costs in higher education are saddling many university graduates across the country with burdensome student loan debt. But tuition at BYU-Idaho is about half that of a typical state university. To make education even more affordable, BYU-Idaho recently launched two new scholarships: a Returned Missionary Scholarship and a Freshman Academic Scholarship.

BYU-Idaho’s affordable tuition, combined with various sources of scholarships, financial aid and the availability of student jobs on campus, allows two-thirds of BYU-Idaho students to graduate with no student loans.

Fun and uplifting environment

BYU-Idaho students are truly having fun here! And they are doing all of it with others who share their values. Part of our mission is to “[build] testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and [foster] its principles in a wholesome academic, cultural, and social environment.”

Recently, we had 7,000 students show up to be part of CES Date Night. It was the biggest group date Jennifer and I have ever been on. The night included pickleball, ice cream, karaoke, bowling, board games, comedy, country dancing and more. There is so much to do here! People literally come from all over the world to visit the national parks and natural wonders that surround this campus.

Between the adventures to discover off campus and the thousands — yes thousands — of amazing activities on campus, plus over 140 vibrant student wards, there is always something to do in this fun and uplifting environment for our 20,000 students.

We like to say we are big enough to meet someone new each day and small enough to get to know them well.

Graduates of BYU-Idaho are legendary

In his inaugural charge to me in October 2023, Elder D. Todd Christofferson promised us continued prophetic guidance: “The Board, with the Prophet at its head, will safeguard you through an increasingly challenging landscape and point the way to academic and spiritual success.”

On most Thursdays, Jennifer and I meet with a small group of students. We provide them with some pizza or sandwiches, and in return they answer our questions and tell us their stories. Those weekly interactions inspire us, and they have helped us understand why President Henry B. Eyring, himself a former president in Rexburg, prophesied that “graduates of BYU-Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve.”

What an incredible promise, one that our alumni are actively fulfilling today.

Elder Alvin F. Meredith III is a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He currently serves as the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho.