LAYTON — Sibling rivalry is a staple in the Clark household.
An A- posted next to another's A on the refrigerator can be devastating in the Layton home where triplets Sarah, Bryan and Melissa have grown up going through the same classes and running in the same circle of friends.
"If somebody else is doing better than you, you strive to achieve what they have," said Sarah Clark, who was born a minute after Melissa. "In a way, it's beneficial."
That extra competitive push has paid off for the Clark triplets as they take their next step in unison to start classes at Brigham Young University in the fall.
Numbers six, seven and eight in a household of nine children, the Clark triplets had a few months of panic as their acceptance letters arrived separately. Sarah found out in January, while the family waited anxiously until Bryan got his a month later and Melissa received hers in March.
"We couldn't really celebrate for Sarah until we heard about the other two. It was a little bit touchy until we got that last letter," said Cindy Clark, the triplets' mother.
Now all three are packing for BYU and hoping to pursue medical careers as the first triplets at the Provo university.
The three Clarks are also trying to find a way to foot the bill for that education. With a brother on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and five siblings before them who all went to college, the Clark family couldn't shoulder the roughly $1,900 per semester tuition that BYU charges per student.
That price tag is on top of living expenses and computers for each child, which were a gift after graduation from Layton High School.
"We knew it was coming, but when you're still trying to put food on the table, how do you pay for college?" Cindy Clark said.
Bryan, Sarah and Melissa plan to work to put themselves through school, along with a mix of scholarship money and student loans. Their parents will help fill in the holes, Cindy Clark noted, but the triplets are expected to get by mostly on their own.
Although Bryan received a scholarship to Weber State University and other schools might have been cheaper for the girls, the Clark children say they never considered going anywhere else. "We just grew up as BYU fans," Melissa said.
Sarah and Melissa will shave some costs from their living expenses by sharing an apartment with their older sister who already goes to BYU. The regular freshman dorms were just too pricey, Melissa said. Bryan plans to live in the same housing complex as his sisters, ensuring the threesome won't be broken up for now.
As for Dad, he's bracing for the inevitable quiet once the whirlwind of teenage friends and late-night talks comes to an end.
"They just overpower any setting with their energy. Now that energy is going south," said Antone Clark, the triplets' father. "It's going to be weird sitting around the table and only seeing two other people."
Contributing: Joseph M. Dougherty