Like many undergraduates, students at the College of the Ozarks here work their way through school, though they often do such unconventional campus jobs as milking cows at dawn in the college’s barns and baking fruit breads for sale to donors.I worked in college, two jobs (one on campus, one off campus), to supplement my loans, scholarships and GI bill (which I had to work to earn as well). However, those didn't come close to covering teh costs of tuition and living expenses in College Park, Maryland. As the Times points out the College of the Ozarks is unique in many respects:
But what is truly different about Hard Work U. — as the college styles itself — is that all 1,345 students must work 15 hours per week to pay off the entire cost of tuition — $15,900 per year. If they work summers, as one-third are doing this summer, they pay off their $4,400 room and board as well. Work study is not an option as it is at most campuses; it is the college’s raison d’être.
This is a college that is philosophically opposed to students starting careers with an Ozark mountain of debt — 95 percent graduate debt free — and it believes that students who put sweat equity into their education value it more.
“I find I take more pride in doing well in class when I know I’ve washed dishes to be able to take that class,” said Sarah Ledoux, a sophomore from Deridder, La.
Other students make similar remarks on this campus, spread across a thousand acres of the hardscrabble hills and hollows of southwestern Missouri. Those students and the college’s longtime president, Jerry C. Davis, think the up-by-the-bootstraps credo is one that more campuses should adopt. Too many parents, they say, think children should focus only on the “full college experience” of classes, clubs and sports, and be spared the economic realities or have those realities postponed through loans.
If work colleges have flourished through an almost spiritual faith in self-reliance, the practical economics are clearly not suited for every campus. Roger Lehecka, the former dean of students at Columbia and a consultant to scholarship programs including one at The New York Times, points out that working 15 hours a week amounts to earning roughly $6,000 for two semesters, a small portion of a year at Columbia that can cost more than $45,000.Student labor is common on campus (I worked as a tutor at the Writing Center, which aside from driving the buses on campus, was the best paying job on campus and much better hours) and many campuses thrive on student labor. To be honest, there is probably a good likelihood that more student labor could be used.
“No way a kid could do that working 15 hours,” Mr. Lehecka said.
Still, I certainly valued my education in part because is was a lot of my own money on teh line. I generally earned enough money (plus the GI bill payments) to pay for most of my living expenses and then used loans and scholarships to pay for tuition. It kept expenses down as much as possible.