Emily's BGS Journey

BYU Bachelor of General Studies

Emily Ruben began her college journey as a freshman at BYU in the fall of 2010. But after four semesters, health issues sidelined her plans. She returned home to Mesa, Arizona, to recover.  

At home in Mesa, Emily took BYU Online semester courses and Independent Study courses, but staying matriculated as a BYU student while living in Mesa became tricky. Emily explored her options and discovered that the BGS program was perfect for her. “I wanted to keep studying and get my bachelor’s degree from BYU, so I joined the BGS program.” 

The Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program is designed to help former BYU students finish their BYU studies and graduate. While BGS student stereotypes persist (e.g., wives who left school to become mothers), the BGS student body includes students who had to stop their undergraduate work for a variety of reasons.

What Emily really appreciated was the ability to complete her coursework on her own schedule and at her own pace. “The Independent Study classes allowed me the flexibility to get rest when I needed it without getting behind like I would in a standard semester-bound class. Independent Study enabled me to be successful.”  

Emily chose an emphasis in English after taking Persuasive Writing in a BYU Online semester class. “My professor’s enthusiasm for writing helped me develop my own excitement for the English language.” But even from her earlier years, Emily has found joy in reading and writing. “I had a knack for diagramming sentences in 8th grade. It was meant to be that I studied English at BYU.”

Emily deeply values the experiences she had in the English emphasis. “Creative Writing was one of my favorite English classes at BYU. I learned how to read, live, and write like a writer. I learned that writing creatively can be fun! In British Literary History 1, although the list of reading assignments seemed daunting at times, I learned a great deal. By reading a wide variety of texts in my English classes, I’ve expanded my perspective of the world and honed my critical thinking skills.”

While Emily completed most of her classes online from her home in Mesa, she did also attend in-person classes at BYU in 2018 and during the 2021-2022 school year. Emily thoroughly enjoyed being back on campus. She participated in as many learning opportunities on campus as she could. During the fall of 2021, Emily edited an article for the student journal Criterion. And even though Independent Study students have online access to the BYU library resources, Emily’s favorite place on campus was the Harold B. Lee Library. “I learned not only from my textbooks, but also from awesome classmates and especially from my instructors. My professors cared about me and believed in me.” 

Emily now hopes to become an editor, and her BGS degree with an English emphasis can help her achieve that goal. She is quick to emphasize that this program really is for anyone. 

Just about anyone who leaves the traditional four-year undergraduate path can make up for lost time and cross the finish line. All you need is at least 27 hours of coursework completed as a matriculated BYU student in Provo (about two semesters) and you can set up an appointment with a BGS advisor and chart a plan.  

Online courses available from BYU Independent Study comprise the main curriculum, but Evening Classes, Spring Term, Summer Term, and Salt Lake Center in-person courses are also available to those who can attend. 

Emily loved her experiences with BGS. “Despite my difficult obstacles, the BGS program gave me the opportunity to progress toward graduation. BGS empowered me to reach my goals.”  


Would you like to join the BGS program? See the BGS Support page for resources and ways to contact an academic advisor!

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