On one of our trips south we visited the College of the Ozarks. This Christian, liberal arts college is located near Branson, Missouri. Presbyterian minister, Rev. James Forsythe, founded the school in 1906. Called The School of the Ozarks, it was first a high school and became a junior college in 1956. Nine years later it became a four-year college and in 1990 took the name College of the Ozarks.
The students at the college work on campus to help pay for part of their tuition. They work 15 hours a week during the school year and do two forty-hour weeks during that time. Scholarships provide the rest of the tuition, so students do not graduate with a large debt to be repaid. This does not include room and board, but students can choose to work during the summer and that will cover their room and board for the next year.
When they first arrive, students are assigned to a service-oriented job for the first one or two semesters such as working in the cafeteria or the restaurant that is open to the public, or mowing and keeping the lawns and gardens in good repair. After the first two semesters they may apply to work in an area more suited to their career plans.
For example, students seeking a degree in agriculture work to produce the dairy, beef, fruit, and vegetables used in the kitchen at The Keeter Center, C of O’s restaurant, ice cream shop, and bakery.
They have a beautiful art gallery where students seeking a degree in Art Education can also work helping with the many events the gallery has each year.
Students seeking other degrees are offered jobs in areas where they can apply what they are learning to real life.
The campus is beautiful. Set in the beautiful Ozark Mountains the views are breathtaking.
We watched one of the students demonstrating the use of a loom. Her major was in Arts and she was working in the museum area as part of her job to pay for tuition.
There was also a mill where they made their own wheat and bread (again students working off their tuition and also learning a trade).
We loved all the water fountains on the campus.
We ended our visit with a delicious meal at the Keeter Center and enjoyed the view in the distance.
If you are ever in the Branson area it is a beautiful and interesting place to check out. While the free tuition is great, it is a very conservative college and would not be a fit for anyone who does not lean very right on the political scale.