|| PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE
Why I'm glad I chose PHC
by Marian Braaksma
When I chose to attend Patrick Henry College I didn't realize how different my college experience would have been at another school. If the brochures were any indication, all small, private, Christian colleges were pretty similar: chapel, dress code, curfew, theology classes, lush campuses, photogenic students, and of course, some form of supervised romance.
Fortunately, God knew what those brochures didn't display. And I'm very grateful that he brought me to PHC instead of the other colleges that I considered.
Ironically, I've become most thankful for the things that I never expected to appreciatefor all the things that were not in my "Why I Want to Attend Patrick Henry College" admissions essay. I cited academic rigor, small classes, and spiritual fervor as reasons why I wanted to attend PHC. And yes, I have found all of those things here. But the full Patrick Henry College experience is difficult to capture in a glossy brochure.
My first semester here, I began to see what daily life on this campus was truly like. My roommates had godly dreams and goals and were willing to work hard for them. The professors voluntarily ate their meals with us. President Farris worked out in the weight room every morning, talking with us about current events. The HSLDA lawyers helped with our legal writing. Upperclassmen assisted lowerclassmen, editing papers and teaching them how to study. The faculty, administration, and staff often stayed late to answer our questions.
I'll never forget one night when, around ten o'clock, I walked past Dr. Noe's office and was surprised to see a dim light still on. I squinted and looked closer, expecting to find him busy with his personal work or writing. Instead, I saw him attentively talking and playing a game of chess with Travis, a freshman student. I was stunned by this image. But I soon learned that such selfless mentoring was typical here.
The professors are our advisors, both academic and personal. They pray with us and for us. Even our dining hall and housekeeping staff want to know what is going on in our liveshow they can encourage us. Every faculty member has an open-door policy if we need to talk. We learn as much outside of the classroom as we do in it.
When I talked with friends who attended other colleges, I found out firsthand how much more I was benefiting. We were reading original documents and being required to critically evaluate them. My friends were simply regurgitating textbook paragraphs and promptly forgetting them after their tests. We were being pushed beyond our comfortable limits, and we were growing up because of it. My friends were getting easy A's. We were working for national campaigns, writing for publications, teaching secondary school, writing amicus briefs for the Supreme Court, and interning on Capitol Hill. Many of my friends were just hanging out at coffee shops, sleeping late, and playing racket ball.
It was not uncommon for President Farris to walk in during breakfast and ask if 20 or 30 of us wanted to go to the White House for a press conference that morning. We grew used to having baffled reporters and education professionals on campus, watching us with amazement.
See, we're just not like other small, Christian, liberal arts schools. Even the secular media know that. I remember overhearing an interview in which a national reporter asked a PHC sophomore, "Don't you ever wish that your college was more like other schools? Isn't it hard being so abnormal?"
Without hesitating, the student replied honestly, "It's true, we aren't like other colleges. But that's the whole point! There are plenty of average schools. PHC was created to fill a void in education, not to duplicate existing colleges. If we wanted to be average students, we wouldn't be here."
It is these candid conversations that show exactly why we chose to attend this college and willingly rejected all others. The true hallmarks of PHC cannot be captured in the brochures, or through the website, or in the press releases.
That's why I wanted to write thisto explain why I'm so glad I chose Patrick Henry College.
About the author
Marian Braaksma is a junior literature major (Creative & Professional Writing track) from Gilbert, Arizona.
PHC in the news
The Washington Post ran a story on October 20, 2003, about Patrick Henry College students and how their training is impacting the world. Below is an excerpt from the full story, which can be accessed at www.phc.edu/news/docs/200310200.asp.
. . . Although the school [PHC] has graduated just 21 students . . . and its student body remains small, Farris said they are having a disproportionately large impact. Two Patrick Henry students have worked in the White House. Another is serving with the coalition authority in Iraq. Some have been interns at the Heritage Foundation think tank and the Interior Department. They have volunteered for political candidates across the country and have been especially active in statewide races and in the college's home county of Loudoun.