This post turned out to be much longer than I initially anticipated, so I split it into different sections. Here are the different sections, as well as what they cover, in case you want to skip around:
Part One: Housing and Food
Part Two: Classes and Paying for College and Jobs
Part Three: Fun and Entertainment/Freebies and Deals
Part Four: Studying, Spiritual, Transportation, and Miscellaneous Tips
Obviously BYU isn’t all fun and games! Make sure you get your studying in so you can do well. I personally never loved going to the library and preferred to study at home (though, admittedly, I did study better in the library.) I would definitely find a place you enjoy studying and go there. When the weather is nice, you’ll often see students on the grass across campus, and this can be rather relaxing.
The most common place to study is probably going to be the library. The Harold B. Lee Library is seriously amazing. So many books, resources, and opportunities. There are six floors, if I’m remembering correctly, but I don’t think the sixth floor is open to the general public. Oddly enough, the library’s ground level floor is called the third floor, with two levels beneath it. Here’s a brief overview of the different floors:
First Floor – Forrest and I call this the floor you go to when you want no distractions. There’s usually no cell service down there, and it’s very quiet. Once I took Jack down there when he was a baby, and I definitely got some dirty looks when he started fussing! Forrest loved going here (and I hated it, because I couldn’t get a hold of him sometimes.) There are a lot of computers on this floor.
Second Floor – This is where I usually went. There is a huge window so there’s natural light,
Third Floor – This is the first floor you’ll be on when you walk into the library. It’s home of the “No-SHH” zone, which basically means you can talk without whispering. It’s a good place to go if you are working on a group project. They have lots of computers here, and it’s also where the main circulation desk is.
Fourth Floor – There’s not much to say about this floor that I can remember. You can study here, and I believe there are computers.
Fifth Floor – When I was at BYU, this was considered the social floor. To be honest, I never really saw much socializing and fun going on there, but apparently I didn’t go at the right times!
You can also reserve study rooms on the Library website which are great for working on a group project.
It’s obviously not a secret that BYU is a church-run university, so the Latter-Day Saint beliefs are widely held by most that attend. If you aren’t LDS, that’s totally fine, and you will probably have a great time. It’s just good to know that the Gospel is very much involved in everything at BYU! I personally loved this. There’s really no other experience like it.
Devotional – Every Tuesday there is a devotional or forum held. It’s at 11 AM and basically all of campus shuts down for it. It’s broadcast from the Marriott Center, so if you can attend live, it’s a cool experience. There’s a wide variety of speakers, from leaders in the church, to professors, to world-wide leaders. When I was there, there was everyone from the Prophet, to Condoleezza Rice, to Mark Zuckerberg. It’s always fun to attend and if you can’t go to it live, you can watch it on BYUTV or online.
FHE – My freshman year, I had a really good FHE group. Most everyone attended, and we usually had pretty fun activities and lessons. I think FHE can be one of the best times to get to know people in your ward a little more closely. I think the key to success of FHE is having good FHE parents that get people to go. There were times that I sometimes didn’t want to go, but I was always glad I did. There are a bunch of places all over campus that offer FHE-related activities that you can go to occasionally (such as at the different museums), which can be fun if you want to shake things up a little bit.
Church – Everyone is obviously assigned a ward depending on where they live. Be as active as you can be! If you get a calling (which most everyone does), do it to the best of your ability. All the bishoprics that were assigned to my wards were always fantastic, and I think that makes the experience even better. There are usually lots of activities, so be sure to go! Something that will be kind of different about attending church at BYU is that you probably won’t be in a church building (unless you are off-campus, which is still hit or miss.)
Classes – Don’t be surprised if you open your classes with a prayer and even a hymn – even outside of your religious classes. Most every class I took at BYU at least started with a prayer, which may seem a little bit weird. But it’s something I came to love and really enjoy.
Ward Prayer – Okay, I’ll admit, I didn’t always go to this. Partially because I forgot, and other times because I just didn’t feel like it! Some wards have their ward prayer on Sunday be somewhat entertaining and other wards just have a song, prayer, and announcements for the week. I wouldn’t recommend following my example of not going, because I know a lot of people enjoy it. In one ward I was in, a different apartment introduced themselves in a creative way each week, which was kind of a fun way to get to know more people!
Should you bring a car or shouldn’t you? My freshman year, I had no desire for one. I loved being kind of stuck on-campus! Plus, my brother didn’t live far away and was always willing to drive me places when I needed him to. Sometimes it can be nice having a car your freshman year, but I’d say that most people don’t need one. After you live off-campus, it’s something you may want to consider more (I was glad I had a car then), but freshman year, it’s less of a necessity. Almost everything is close by!
Plus, Heritage Halls no longer has any student parking available, so you’ll have to find something else to do with your car! Parking anywhere around campus can be a total nightmare (and if you have a car, you’ll probably find yourself following people who are walking to their car, so you can grab their spot.)
BYU teamed up with Hertz to provide a car rental service for students. This is helpful for those times when you really just need a car! You can rent them by the hour (starting at about $9 an hour) or for a daily rate of $70. You just have to have a valid driver’s licenses, be 18 or older, and register with the program. The registration takes about a week to process, so if you anticipate using this service, I would register at the beginning of the semester. You can reserve a car 15 minutes to 6 months in advance.
Many students choose to have a bike as their main form of transportation. This is a great way to save money and to get some exercise. There are lots of bike racks across campus (though don’t ride it during the 10 minutes after a class lets out, or else the campus police might pull you over!) Make sure you have a lock for it, though, because bike theft is fairly common. Also, be careful. There’s a lot of crazy drivers in Provo, and a lot of crazy bike riders. Just be aware of those around you!
If you don’t want to buy a bike, you can actually rent one through the Bike Sharing program. It’s $35 a semester during fall and winter, and $20 during Spring and Summer terms.
This is a BYU shuttle service which goes to various off-campus housing complexes. If you live in Wyview your freshman year, you’ll definitely want to consider it! It goes to Wyview, Wymount, the Glenwood, and King Henry Apartments, which are near other apartment complexes as well. It is free with your BYU Id.
When I was at BYU, the UTA pass was not given to students. However, they’ve recently changed this to allow students to get free access to the UTA using their ID card, which is pretty amazing. This includes the buses, the Trax, and the Front Runner!
The Honor Code
When you were accepted to BYU, you had to sign the honor code. This is something you do each year, and that you will go over with your bishop in a personal interview. If you sign it, you should follow it. Simple as that. I heard so many people complaining about it, or saying that they didn’t want to follow it. And if that’s how you feel, then you may want to consider whether or not BYU is the right place for you! That might sound intense or condescending, but I never understood why people would act like it was the worst thing ever, when they agreed to it 🙂
Internet on Campus
Internet – There is free Internet just about everywhere on campus. While it may be tempting to just connect to the “Guest” login, I wouldn’t recommend it. This Internet is SO slow. It’s much more worth while to register your device (you can find out how here) and get fast Internet. High speed Internet is available in the dorms, and wireless Internet is available in Heritage Halls. If you want to have WiFi in Helaman Halls or Wyview, you can purchase a router to set up. When I was in Heritage, they didn’t have WiFi included, so we did this, and it made a big difference (so we weren’t all stuck in our rooms on our laptops!)
You only have one freshman year – don’t waste it! I think it was one of the least stressful years for me, and I wish I had taken more advantage of the opportunities. Be silly, have fun, and enjoy yourself. Of course, do your best in your classes, but just take your freshman year as
Chances are, when you are a senior, you’ll look at the freshman and think, “wow, they are so immature/young!” Embrace that while you are a freshman. It’s really a once in a lifetime experience.
Let me know if you have any questions! I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.
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Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.