Brigham Young University – Hawaii

Laie, HI: When you visit the campus, the first thing you notice is the “Little Circle.” It is a grassy lawn, about 75 yards in diameter, in front of the library, a foyer, the student center, and offices. On the grass are the flags of dozens of countries. These flags represent the mission of this college: diversity. Even though Brigham Young University–Hawaii (BYU-H) is a small school, it is home to students from nearly every corner of the world.

BYU-H, like any other college associated with the Mormon church, has strict standards concerning alcohol, dress, and relationships. While this may be an immediate turn-off for some prospective students, the honor code, as it is called, helps students stay on an alcohol-free, modest, and abstinent path. However, this does not mean that the opportunities for fun are limited. One of the most notable things about BYU-H is its proximity to the beach, which is literally a ten-minute walk. Half a mile. Let that sink in. This campus is half a mile from our nation’s prettiest beaches, with hot white sand and mild waves.

Beach aside, another alluring feature of BYU-H is its affordability. The tuition is $14,310 for non-Mormons and about half that for Mormons. Since Mormons pay a “tithe,” or a tenth of their income to the church, this in turn subsidizes education at the three BYUs and the LDS Business College. Room and board is $9,010 per year, but it is possible to reduce this expense by living off-campus and making one’s own food. Off-campus housing can be easily found for $400 per month. Even international students can obtain employment to offset their tuition. In addition to typical on-campus jobs – such as working at the cafeteria or in a janitorial position – all students can work at the Polynesian Cultural Center. At the PCC, students are able to express a non-academic side as tour guides, merchants, dancers, and artists.

BYU-H utilizes a trimester system, allowing students to graduate in three years if they want. Admission is somewhat competitive, with a recommended ACT score of at least 25 (equal to an 1150/1600 or 1710/2400 on the SAT). According to U.S. News and World Report, ­almost 30 percent of applicants are accepted into the college.

BYU-H is definitely not for everyone. The political atmosphere is generally conservative. Since students are from around the world, accents abound. But, if you want to expand your horizons while having good, clean fun, BYU-H may be a great place to do it.

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