In 1906, Reverend James Forsythe had a vision. His hope was to provide a high school education for area students who financially couldn’t get such an education. His solution was to create a school where students worked instead of paid. His solution became College of the Ozarks. Over 100 years later, that little high school has flourished into an institution that continues to provide education in exchange for hard work.
Each student who attends College of the Ozarks works 15 hours each week at an on-campus workstation. Those 15 hours translate to $4,060 of the student’s tuition, which is approximately $17,900. So where does the remainder of the tuition come from?
Basically, College of the Ozarks provides each student with a scholarship that covers the remaining portion of their tuition. In addition to this scholarship and the work program, any state and federal grants the student qualifies for also apply to their tuition.
In addition to working for their tuition, students at College of the Ozarks have the opportunity to work for their room and board expenses through the Summer Work Program. For six to 12 weeks, students work 40 hours each week to pay for their room and board. Six weeks of summer work pays for one semester of room and board, while 12 weeks pays for both semesters.
Between working at their work stations students attend classes during the week. College of the Ozarks offers over 80 majors and minors, as well as pre-professional programs in pre-medicine, pre-law, and pre-engineering. Each student is required to complete at least one major to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. A single major contains eight to 12 courses, while a minor contains six to seven courses. Students are expected to complete that major and minor (if applicable) within eight semesters. Extensions will allow for two additional semesters, but must be approved by the Dean of the College.
College of the Ozarks also strives to develop Christ-like character in its students. The college does so through chapel services and special convocation programs held throughout the year.
The college has hosted notable convocation speakers, including Newt Gingrich, Benjamin Netanyahu, Lady Margaret Thatcher, former President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and Dr. Ben Carson.
Students are required to attend five chapel services each semester, along with five convocations, and an additional five chapels or convocations, in whatever combination the student chooses. Each of the convocations relates to one facet of the college’s fivefold mission, which includes cultural, vocational, academic, patriotic, and Christian values. Because it emphasizes working for a Christian education, College of the Ozarks encourages students to graduate debt-free. To help further that ideal, the college itself has no debt, allowing them to set an example for students. College of the Ozarks relies on donors to help fund the college, which allows them to prevent getting into debt.
If you’re visiting the Branson area, College of the Ozarks is just outside Branson in Hollister, Mo. The college is home to the Keeter Center and its restaurant, Dobyn’s Dining Room. Visitors can tour the campus, including the dairy, Gaetz Tractor Museum, the Ralph Foster Museum, and more.
For more information about College of the Ozarks, visit www.cofo.edu. Information about the Keeter Center can be found at www.keetercenter.edu.