Grrr! BYU Indpendent Study

Grrr! BYU Indpendent Study

When is it okay to question authority? To put up a fight? To not graciously submit? I’m not really one make a stink about anything, but I have, nevertheless, found myself in a tussle with the powers that be at BYU Independent Study for the past six months. It may, finally, be drawing to a close, albeit not altogether satisfactorily. Let me vent my frustrations to you.

The saga began back in August when I took the final for my Geography 250 class. I hadn’t done so hot on the midterm, so I was hoping to make up for it by acing the final. I studied for at least 8 hours in preparation for the test–as much as I have studied for any other test, I’m sure–and came out of the testing center feeling horrible about it. The first question had a major typo. Or was it a typo? How was I to know? Don’t they proofread these things? The whole meaning of the question was changed. An entire word was wrong. And things went down hill from there. When I got the score for the test, I was not happy. I knew I didn’t deserve that score. So I called BYU IS and asked them to send the test back so I could review it. I was given 1 hour to look over it and argue for any questions I think I got right. There wasn’t time to make comments on all of them, but I hoped that the fact that over half of the ones I had “missed” we not actually wrong might convince them to go over the test and make sure everything was correct. While I am sure that this is what should have happened, what should happen does not always happen. Independent Study informed me that the professor had looked over the questions I had argued and decided that no changes were warranted. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it. Instead, I had Micah call (I was afraid I wouldn’t be very nice) and ask them if there was anything else I could do. I filed another complaint and asked them to find out from the professor why there were no changes, citing as many specific examples of questions I’d missed but shouldn’t have (even though it had been two months since I’d taken the test).

For months the only thing I heard from them was that the professor was very hard to get ahold of and they would keep trying. (What kind of a system is this?) I wouldn’t hear from them for weeks and weeks, but I refused to give up. Finally, about three weeks ago, they said they had some answers for me. The professor had looked over it, made some comments–including that many of my answers were “okay”–but didn’t award any more points. Excuse me? What does “okay” mean, if not that my answer was acceptable, if not 100% correct? By this point I was almost ready to give it up. But I decided to ask them one more time to find out what “okay” meant and why I didn’t get any more points. (I know, I know. I sound like a grade schooler having a tantrum. “Give me more points! I want more points! Pretty pretty pretty pretty please can I have some more points?”) And finally a few days ago they were able to tell me that I was, indeed, correct. I did deserve more points. Almost all of the ones I had argued for were correct. Unfortunately, it didn’t raise my grade in the course at all. But I just have to wonder what would happen if they went over the whole test–and the midterm too. Would they find more mistakes? I may never know, but I’m willing to bet that they would.

And now come my questions: Who is accountable for the content of the course? If there is no accountability, how do they ensure quality courses? Why does the professor get away with putting together a bad course and not caring about his students? What did my $357.00 of tuition pay for? Should I keep badgering them to look over the tests some more to see if I can get my grade raised?

Yes, it is true, I have graduated. I have my degree. I should move on. It is only bringing my GPA down a little bit, and the grad schools probably won’t care. I think it has been worth the trouble so far, even though my grade didn’t change, if only because I have worked out some of my frustrations towards BYU. Still . . . grrr! for taking so long, for not believing me, for making me do all the work rather than looking into it themselves . . . and then still not taking any initiative after my concerns were validated and I proved it was a bum test.

13 thoughts on “Grrr! BYU Indpendent Study

  1. Don’t worry Liz, it is not just you. Have changed positions at work and working more closely (and hearing the gossip) I realize how messed up the process is. At least you are not the lady you sent the professor a 4 page email criticizing that “how could a LDS history professor at BYU teach that there is evidence of man 6000 BC when we know that Adam was around 4000 BC.”

  2. I say keep going. If at all possible, get the professor to be reviewed by a board or something. You worked hard, and if it were me I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to give up until I saw a change in the grade. I mean, if I got it wrong then that’s my fault, but if it was the system’s fault then something needs to be changed so that credit is given to where it is deserved. I’m sorry for your frustrations (and I urge you to vent them, it’s better than keeping them bottled in). Who knows, maybe the professor really is a good person, and just thought that if they changed yours they would have to change everybody’s and they didn’t want to do that. I don’t know, but it is seriously messed up and I’m sorry.

  3. Sorry for commenting on this two years after the post, but I just found it on Google.

    Thank you for voicing your complaints about Independent Study. I’ve had similar problems with two of the three IS courses I’ve taken. The one course that wasn’t full of errors was my Chinese History class (History 341), run by a professor who has since moved to BYU Hawaii.

    BYU’s Independent Study HEPE class is horrible, filled with outdated information (I learned that through independent research) and trick questions. I failed the final at the first attempt and had to pay a fee to take it again. I passed the second time with a 71%, good enough for a B+ in the class (I got around the 90 range on every single quiz). I am certain that some of the test questions were worded incorrectly; however, there is apparently no way to check this.

    I’m currently enrolled in German 321. It is run by Lore Schultheiss, perhaps the worst teacher ever to set foot in BYU’s German Department (she doesn’t even have an office there anymore). In addition to her utterly useless essay comments and remarks, I’m faced with a class that requires an ungodly amount of homework per week. I’m talking about well over 200 problems per section, plus two or three handwritten essays, plus a typed essay, plus a translation exercise, plus a grammatical analysis. The list goes on and on, and my headache grows worse by the day.

    Had I known IS was going to be such a painful experience, I would have planned my college schedule out better ahead of time. I don’t recommend BYU Independent Study to anyone. It’s a good way to ruin an otherwise good and fulfilling academic experience. I just wish there were more people on the internet willing to stand up and say what Independent Study is really all about.

  4. I am finishing my last semester through byu independent study, and am very unimpressed. All they do is tell you to read this certain book, write lots of papers (which receive basically no feedback), and take a huge proctored final. There’s no teaching involved. All the information must be laboriously gleaned from obsolete, incomplete textbooks. There is no interaction with either professor or other students. So far I have yet to see any interactive media, etc.. It is impossible to even e-mail the teacher to ask a question. I really wonder what I am paying for here (tuition is just as high as campus instruction), and if they didn’t already hold all my previous credits hostage, I would definitely go elsewhere.

  5. i cant believe this page got 14 hits just for today… 2 and 1/2 years after the fact. I punched in “byu independent study is impossible” into google, and this was the first this that popped up. After trying to take a geography 120 (i think) class, and loosing all my money (now a whopping $400) because i couldn’t “complete it in time”… i’m about 6 months into another i.s. physical science class.

    Of course i’m working full time, and yes, byu continues holding onto about 122 credits of coursework until i finish my last few classes which all could be completed through i.s. But i had such a horrible experience with i.s. that i’ve now moved back to provo just so i can finish the classes on campus; (anything to avoid i.s.:(

    it’s like ya’ll were saying, soooo much money for soooooooooo little support. after having spent about 6 years in the “real” business world i have to say byu and their academic counterparts are really in their own little “bubble.” they overcharge for their “services,” which rarely, if ever, are provided; and us students have to just grin and take the heat… if this were a truly market driven education, we (the consumers) would be able the to effect some kind of change…

    but alas… my sunk investment in this institution forces me to ignore the reality that, like most big entities, BYU is simply a name too big to have to worry about us little guys. no matter how many times they abuse, ignore, discrimate and underserve certain populations it will never affect their bottom line. investments in big name athletics assure a positive return and stadiums will always be more important than students.

  6. How is/was Physical Science 100??? I’m thinking about taking it while I work this summer but won’t have tons of time to really “study hard.”

  7. I personally didn’t take PS 100 through Independent Study, so I can’t really comment on it. Sorry.

  8. Hey, I know this post is two years old, but I just wanted to let you know I feel your pain. Personally I think that the tuition is just going to pay for the BYU name and the reputation they have built up, since there are much better online schools but that no one has ever heard of (and could thus be wary of if they are looking at your transcript).

  9. Oh my goodness, you guys got hit by it too? I thought I was the only one experiencing these ridiculous problems that BYU IS manages to throw back at me. I can't express how much pain and frustration this single institution has inflicted onto me these past 2 years.

    Speaking of these past two years, I've only enrolled into BYU IS because I traveled a lot and just needed to complete my senior year. It's take TWO F-ing long years just to complete a senior year with BYU IS. I enrolled in the IS standard high school transcript program in May 2008; it's Jan.2010 as I write this. (I've one more course to go)

    I had to take 16 courses just to complete the senior year; about 2-3 were what I call "surprise courses" where I call up to ask what courses I need to complete a subject in which they tell me that they "miscalculated" my credits and I need to take extra courses. Bullshit. I don't believe they're trying to "enrich" our educational experience, I think they're trying to bleed money out of any poor soul that manages to get caught in these traps.

    Quite frankly, I regret taking these online courses. The more I do research about BYU and the IS, the more I realize that they esteem themselves too highly (I mean the authoritive figures in the institution, not those who enroll–I've got no beef with the latter). Everytime I get the questionnaire at the end of an exam and get to the question where they ask if you'd like to recommend BYU IS to a friend, I always ALWAYS say no.

    But don't get me wrong, perhaps there ARE some people out there who have enjoyed these courses, and that's fine, but there are also those who have experienced frustration from seemingly simple problems that haven't and aren't being solved properly by the BYU IS. I mean, sometimes I send an email asking about something and then they send me an email that did not answer the question at all–perhaps I didn't word the question right, but I believe I couldn't have been more concise– but maybe it's just me.

    What I'm trying to say here is that BYU IS glorifies themselves through the "success" stories of the students who have claimed to enjoy their IS courses. But there are those who have had a damn hard time going through these courses. For all of you who have had these frustrations–whether you've complete the program or not–I feel you. We are the unsung heroes of this little world called BYU IS (or whatever program you're enrolled in with them).

    I honestly don't know what to do to get the world's attention (or whoever WOULD care) about our troubles with BYU. I can't help but think of BYU IS ads as false advertisements, as empty promises. I see them as a business, nothing more, and it hurts me to hear of other people suffering from these courses. I don't hate easily, but BYU has indeed merited such an intense sentiment from me and I don't think anything can ever alleviate these feelings.

    Am I afraid of them reading what I've written here? No, let them read. To be honest, they taught me how to write well from their English courses, so I'll use that against them.

    If anyone knows of anything or of any way of getting peoples' attention of these problems with BYU IS, don't hesitate to contact me. Just contact me on

    I am truly sincere in what I've written here. Those of you who've had the patience to read up till here, good luck. Those of you who are considering enrollment into the BYU IS, please don't. It'll save you a lot of time, money, and effort.

    Good luck,

  10. I was just perusing around looking for some help with my BYU course and found this.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I found myself nodding my head to everything you said. I'm taking three courses thru byu (ugh) and it is full of typos and errors. Some of the information is nearly ten years old, therefore making it obsolete.
    Do they even READ the survey they give after grading a final?

  11. I completely agree but i need the credit to get my diploma. it sucks depending on byu because the site it soo complicated and you get 0 help and 100 percent pressure since i need to finish this within three weeks before graduation! >.< I wouldn't recommend byu….instead take a course in community college or make it up during the summer

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