It wasn’t too long ago that I came upon a YouTube video entitled, “College of the Ozarks: How To Go To College For Free.” Naturally, my interest was piqued, just as it had been when I first read and then wrote about tuition-free Berea College. You can watch the College of the Ozarks clip yourself, but these are the highlights:
- “College of the Ozarks is a four-year liberal arts college. It is also a work college…our students graduate from college debt-free.”
- “We have a very unique setting. We’re a thousand acres campus in Point Lookout, Missouri. We have more than 100 work stations that they (the students) can avail themselves at. We have a fire department. We have a print shop. We have The Keeter Center, which in and of itself makes up our largest work station – it is a four-star lodging, dining, and conference facility.”
- “After their freshmen year, students are allowed to select their top-three choices of work stations on campus.”
- “This college is giving us the opportunity to work for our education. That’s valuable. It’s something you’ll take away from it – it builds your character, and your work ethic, and it also means you’ll graduate without debt.”
The school has certainly earned its nickname (first bestowed upon it by the Wall Street Journal back in 1973), Hard Work U, but the students, for all of their hard work (a minimum of 15 hours per week to cover tuition, along with their academic work), certainly benefit hugely, graduating from college with zero debt. Furthermore, and as is pointed out on the school’s website, “The College openly discourages debt by not participating in any federal, state, or private loan programs and leads by example through having no institutional debt of any kind.” The school will also not accept “students who insist on taking out loans“! College of the Ozarks is certainly unique – but what about the quality of the education students receive there?
A recent article from Business Insider shines further light on the school, for instance, reporting that “it accepts just 8.3% of applicants and has small class sizes, with a 15:1 student teacher ratio.” Furthermore, College of the Ozarks offers 27 majors and 32 minors, and can boast of a strong academic program.
Keep in mind, however, that the college is a Christian school, so it may not be a “best-fit” college for everyone. As their Public Relations Director, Valorie Coleman, pointed out in the aforementioned YouTube clip, “Our vision is to develop citizens of Christ-like character, who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic – it’s for the development of the whole citizen.” The College Scorecard also reveals that while 63% of students graduate after six years (which is above the national average of 43%), that Hard Work U may not fit the bill for all students, even if attending does pay the bill! As ever, do your research, visit if you can, and determine for yourself if College of the Ozarks would be a great undergraduate institution for you.
Along these lines, beyond College of the Ozarks and Berea College, there are five more work colleges in the United States. They are (drum roll please!)…
- Kentucky’s Alice Lloyd College
- Illinois’ Blackburn College
- Arkansas’ Ecclesia College
- Vermont’s Sterling College, and
- North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College
To learn more about work colleges, visit The Work Colleges Consortium!
As the consortium writes in reference to College of the Ozarks, “For more than 100 years, College of the Ozarks has educated the head, heart, and hands of countless young people.” In short, this unique school is one to have on your radar screen! You can visit this page for more general information about the college (including its many accolades), here to read more about the school’s Work Education Program and, if you’re interested in applying, you can find out about that process here. If you’re willing to work hard, a debt-free college education may well be in your future!