(Sidebar: see also the article entitled The Myth of Adolescence.)
What Kind of People Go to BJU?
If you think you are going to attend BJU and just party for four years... well, don't. The rules of conduct are strict enough to discourage a party animal, and relaxed enough to make it very easy to excel academically, socially, and most importantly--spiritually. BJU has been called the West Point Academy of Fundamentalism. I notice that no one from BJU has ever tried to denounce that title.
I have met those who attended BJU for all four years to "get the education because it's one of the best deals" [an almost exact quote from a former student]. They were good at getting around any of the rules they considered "inconvenient," and they were probably some of the most miserable people I met during my student life.
In a nutshell, if you don't plan on taking your college career and your life in general very seriously, you won't enjoy the culture shock of BJU. On the other hand, if you're willing to sacrifice some of the typical habits of high school (such as sliding through without studying, or placing sports, computer games, popularity, or other non-scholastic things as a higher priority than your education) you'll do well. In fact, every successful graduate of BJU I've met was successful in the Real World as well.
Is BJU for Me?
First and foremost, if you're not a Christian, you aren't going to fit in.
Though BJU is non-denominational, the vast majority of the Bible faculty, Bible teaching, Chapel speakers, and student body consists of what would be called the "independent, fundamental Baptist" doctrine. Note that I'm not referring to the northern folks' stereotypical view of southern churches, with snake handling, healing services, speaking in tongues, and running around in the aisles. I'm referring to the Biblical doctrines held. The University Creed is as follows, and summarizes the doctrinal stand of BJU:
"I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments; the creation of man by the direct act of God; the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; His identification as the Son of God; His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross; the resurrection of His body from the tomb; His power to save men from sin; the new birth through regeneration by the Holy Spirit; and the gift of eternal life by the grace of God."
If you don't believe the core of this doctrine--that the Bible is God's Word, and Jesus was and is Who the Bible says He is--you will not be at home at BJU. It won't be that the faculty or student body go out of their way to make sure you don't feel at home. It's that this philosophy and doctrine so permeates everything that goes on at BJU, you won't escape it. The spiritual conviction will be quite evident.
Secondly, plan on taking your studies seriously. Very seriously.
An enforced "quiet in the halls" (called Quiet Hour) is in effect from 7-10PM Monday through Thursday, with a bit more leniency on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. In addition to quiet in the halls, you're not permitted to play radios, tapes, or CD's (recreational audio equipment of any kind, just in case someone invents something else before you go to college) in your room during Quiet Hour.
The library is open during all class hours and through the weekday evenings until 10PM as well, with the same quietness. (Hint: If you care about your GPA at all, you'll get out of your dorm room and head to the library.)
Attendance at classes isn't merely tracked--it's mandatory. Ditch enough classes, and you could earn yourself enough trouble to result in expulsion.
With a midnight curfew and no one allowed up before 5:30AM, the all-night study sessions typical at most universities aren't possible. Instead, you actually have to budget your waking hours to accomplish what you need to get done. Which, frankly, is much like real life.
Another sobering thought that bears repeating. The majority of college students were "A" students in high school. Therefore, the college "C" average is the same as a high school "A." Whatever effort gave you "A's" in high school will get you only "C's" at BJU. And if you just lazed around for a "C" in high school, you'll fail college. Been there, failed a few classes myself. Didn't like it, but learned a lot about life anyway.
Extra-cirricular hobbies, past-times, and careers may have to hibernate during your BJU career.
If you have any space-consuming hobby, expensive recreational past-time, or other career goals, put them on hold for the duration of your education. You probably won't have the space or time to juggle both if you're the typical fresh-out-of-high-school student.
Dorm rooms house 2 to 4 students in a 20 by 24 room (estimated size); comfortably full without being too cramped. Closet space is at a premium, but adequate for reasonable wardrobes. Don't expect to bring your collection of baseball cards, stamps, bugs, goldfish, or whatever and have it heartily accepted by all roommates. Savvy packers should be able to take everything you'll really need to survive at BJU into three large suitcases; everything else is added baggage that you won't have time to use.