|| PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE
by Michael Farris
Patrick Henry College has achieved a major milestone. On November 13, the college was informed that it had been granted "preaccreditation" status by the American Academy for Liberal Education.
The AALE denied PHC's request for accreditation in April because of the college's requirement that all teaching of origins convey the truth of God's creation in six literal days. However, PHC has always required professors to fully discuss opposing views.
The college challenged the AALE's denial in a formal appeal which culminated in a hearing before three independent panelists—all of whom were senior officials at other private colleges. The panel's decision ruled in favor of PHC—a move that required the AALE Board of Trustees to reconsider our application.
Before the reconsideration, the college filed additional paperwork with the AALE seeking to clarify our commitment to discuss all relevant viewpoints while standing firmly on the truth of God's creation. Based on this record, the AALE Board became convinced that PHC fully met all of the relevant standards, resulting in the approval vote.
Preaccreditation is the standard first step in the full accreditation process and carries with it all the rights and privileges of accreditation. Now degrees from PHC are fully recognized.
While we are very happy to achieve this important step in the life of the college, we are even happier that we were able to do so without changing in the slightest our stand for the truth of God as our Creator.
One of the most frequent questions I am asked at homeschool conferences is: "When is Patrick Henry College going to offer distance learning courses?"
A second, somewhat related question is: "When are you going to start another campus in our part of the country?"
PHC IS GOING TO OFFER DEGREES TO STUDENTS WHO STUDY AT HOME
The needs expressed by both questions have led to an exciting new development at PHC.
The short answer is: Distance learning courses will be launched in January 2003. The first courses to be offered are: Constitutional Law (taught by myself), Freedom's Foundations I, Western Literature I, New Testament Survey, Biology, and Introduction to American Government.
Of course, this only answers the first question. Some people still ask "What about a PHC campus near our home?"
There are a variety of reasons that some parents are reluctant to send their children to college in Virginia—especially if they live on the other side of the country. Others believe that this is the will of God for their child at this stage of life. PHC has students from 39 states—including a high number from California and other western states.
Offering our entire college program through distance learning would solve the dilemma for many students and their families. However, it is our firm belief that several aspects of our program—particularly our apprenticeship components—require face-to-face instruction and mentoring.
We believe that we have found a solution to this dilemma that will allow students to principally reside at home and yet obtain the necessary courses on the PHC campus. (And no, we have not perfected Star Trek transporter technology.)
PHC is going to offer degrees to students who study at home for the Fall and Spring semesters through distance learning. The required face-to-face courses will be taught during nine-week sessions held in the Summer semester. This means that students could remain at home for 43 weeks a year.
While the pace will be up to the individual student, normally it will take a student five or six summers to complete the required on-campus courses and earn a bachelor's degree. Students who begin and end their program with a summer session, could complete their college education in four years and three months. We anticipate, however, that the normal pace will require five years and three months. Homeschoolers could start their distance learning studies when they are 17 or 18, allowing them to graduate at the age of a "typical" on-campus student.
Not only will this program allow students to save money on living expenses, but many may find that they are able to retain a lucrative job at home, earning enough to pay for most, if not all, of their own college expenses.
Students who enroll in this program in January, June, or September of 2003 may "lock in" their tuition rate for the entire time until they graduate. There are, naturally, some rules about this program which are detailed on PHC's website.
This distance learning degree program allows the college to maximize our physical facility, keeping it in operation virtually year-round. It also allows us to maximize the faculty's capacity to teach more students.
We trust that many students who desire to obtain a PHC degree, but are simply unable to leave home for a full-time program, will be able to benefit from this innovative approach to a truly unique Christian college education.
"Thinking outside the box" is a common phrase meaning a desire to embrace innovative thinking. At PHC, our informal motto is: "There is no box."