I enjoy visiting colleges when time allows and the campus seems interesting enough. While in Branson, we visited the College of the Ozarks situated just outside the city.
College of the Ozarks is a private Christian liberal arts college also known as “Hard Work U”. It was founded by a Presbyterian minister in 1906 and offers an interesting model for post secondary education. No tuition is charged of its students, and the college tries to recruit students who demonstrate financial need. Every full-time student is required to work at a campus job to help defray his or her expenses (this work is supplemented by scholarships and gifts from donors). If accepted, students are expected to work 15 hours a week on a campus program and two 40-hour work weeks during breaks to “pay” for their education. A summer work program is available to cover room and board costs. So it is possible for a student to get a degree at the College of the Ozarks with no expenditure of money — just for an exchange of their time and labor.
The types of jobs available to students are highly variable, ranging from working in the college’s mill, to making candles, working in the greenhouse, to serving and cooking at the campus restaurants. The idea is that hard work builds character and provides the students with a sense of having earned their college degree through their labors.
The College was originally founded as a high school (School of the Ozarks), and has been offering bachelor’s programs since 1965. Its name changed to College of the Ozarks in 1990. The College is highly rated for its academic programs and offers majors in more than 40 subject areas. There is a tremendous demand for spots and only a minority of students who apply are accepted (I believe around 10%). Its enrollment totals 1,565 students and the campus is situated over 1,000 acres. Alcohol, drugs and tobacco are forbidden on campus.
My wife and I visited the college with my brother and his wife, and enjoyed strolling around the beautiful grounds with our two dogs. Our dogs served as people magnets and dozens of the co-ed students were drawn to us, missing their own dogs while away at school. In any event, we had to opportunity through our dogs to meet and converse with several dozen students, all of whom wanted to pet the canine members of our family. Some of these conversations lasted several minutes and we meet nursing, education and phys ed majors, among others. I was highly impressed by the fine character, kindness and warmth of all the students we met. Each had excellent communication skills and nice personalities.
There are a number of worthwhile spots to see while visiting the college campus:
Lake Honor seems at center point to the College of the Ozarks. The clocktower shown below is beside the lake. Lake Honor has a fountain and a small island home to a lovely swan. There are a series of plaques honoring students of high academic achievement situated beside the lake.
Edwards Mill, funded by the Edwards family, is powered by a twelve-foot water wheel fueled by the drainage of Lake Honor. Student workers grind whole-grain meal and flour, available for purchase inside the building. Upstairs is a weaving studio where students design and produce an assortment of items like rugs, shawls and placemats which are also available for purchase.
Williams Memorial Chapel is of beautiful neo-Gothic architecture and was dedicated in 1956. It has a tall nave and a bell tower. It’s supposed to be beautiful inside, but was closed when we visited. Sunday church services begin at 11 a.m. and are open to the public.
Point Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ozark hills and the beautiful Lake Taneycomo.
The Hoge Greenhouses, are home to an impressive orchid collection. Individual orchids and other houseplants are for sale at the greenhouse.
We spotted this copy of the Liberty Bell during our wanderings — a nice replica.
There’s more to see at the College, but it was getting dark and buildings were closing, so it was time to leave.
I enjoyed my visit to the College of the Ozarks and was impressed by what has been achieved here. Guests are welcome on campus and you can stroll around at your leisure, as we did.
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