Patrick Henry College, which will initially offer only a major in government, is not entering the world of higher education as a lightweight. According to one home schooler headed to college this fall, the admissions application for Patrick Henry College is tougher than Harvard's. Besides Harvard, home schooled senior Jeremy Sewall applied to America's oldest and youngest colleges William and Mary, founded in 1693, and Patrick Henry College, which opens fall 2000. He was accepted at both schools, but gave up an attractive scholarship at William and Mary to attend Patrick Henry.
I find the apprenticeship model offered at Patrick Henry is more appealing than other college programs, Jeremy said.
Apprenticeship at Patrick Henry College means professionals teaching the next generation of professionals, one-on-one. Students will receive more individualized attention at Patrick Henry than at most U. S. colleges. It should surprise no one that this sounds like a logical extension of the Christian home school.
Jeremy points out that Harvard was also founded as a Christian institution, but things have changed. Patrick Henry College has a mission like Harvard originally had to train Christian leaders for public service, said Jeremy.
Patrick Henry College was authorized in December 1999 to admit students. The approval from the common-wealth of Virginia for admitting students to a new college normally requires a two-part process with a month between a committee hearing and final approval. How-ever, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and its planning committee both unanimously approved on the same day Patrick Henry's application to enroll students which seemed miraculous.
It was a ringing affirmation of our commitment to Christ-centered academic excellence, said Michael Farris, president of Patrick Henry College. The college's next step is to gain approval to grant degrees. This will begin when SCHEV representatives visit Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville, Virginia, after classes begin this fall.
Kerry Medaris, a home school graduate also from Northern Virginia, also felt God's call to Patrick Henry and faced a decision similar to Jeremy's. By attending Patrick Henry College, she will walk away from a grant from a prestigious state university.
But, as Kerry puts it, she would benefit from matriculating at a smaller school and learning in her own style, just as she did in home school.
At Patrick Henry, I will be one of 200 students, not one of 2,000 honor students. A small school has real advantages. I would be a real person, not just a face, Kerry said. Apprenticeship is hands on, and that's how I learn. Students will be mentored. I think it will be more in depth, more personal, and more rigorous. Patrick Henry has the right focus. Faculty at the college will know what makes the students tick.
As for public service, Kerry doesn't think she'll ever want to run for president That's just not me but there are other public offices she might like to pursue, and Patrick Henry would be good place to start.
Jeremy Sewall said he thinks Patrick Henry College will provide an ideal environment for self-starting students who possess the impulse to start clubs and other college organizations. It will all be new. There are no established traditions at Patrick Henry as there are at other colleges. There are great possibilities.
College President Michael Farris knows why these students are interested in Patrick Henry College: We have a different vision. The idea of home schooled students preparing for political leadership in a college atmosphere that encourages private virtue is so different that many journalists seem utterly fascinated. America's home schoolers have learned to achieve academic success in a manner that represents the finest in outside-the-box' thinking. One-on-one education is the best way to deliver first-rate academic instruction, and this is what we're offering, Farris said.
But the minds of college students sometimes wander from book learning to interest in each other, and this may be where Patrick Henry students reveal their greatest maturity. College or not, parents are still the ones to turn to for guidance in relationships. Jeremy says, I was raised to expect parental involvement in my relationships, and it will make all the difference.
Patrick Henry College is not exclusively for home schoolers, or Virginians. Admissions requirements include strong academic skills, a good high school record, solid SAT or ACT scores, an essay on personal faith, a passion for the college's mission, letters of recommendation, and an excellent personal interview.
Potential students for the fall of 2000 are still invited to complete the admissions packet. These packets should be returned with a non-refundable application processing fee of $50, payable to Patrick Henry College. The application form and much more information can be found at the college's Web site, http://www.phc.edu.
If a college-age Christian you know is seeking preparation for the arena of public service, encourage him to consider Patrick Henry College. It could be the choice of a lifetime.
- Rich Jefferson