America's newest evangelical Christian college will offer students a classical liberal arts education, a biblical emphasis, and just one major: government-and lots of it. So much, that half of junior- and senior-year credits racked up by students at Patrick Henry College will be earned not in the school's Purcellville, Va., classrooms, but in doing public-policy work for legislators.
Classes will commence on Oct. 2 at Patrick Henry, whose Williamsburg-style main buildings are still under construction. The new institution, planted among 44 acres of Northern Virginia pines, has so far accepted 80 students. More than a quarter of them hail from California and Virginia; all but two students were homeschoolers who were actively recruited by the college. While a report released this year by the National Center for Home Education shows that a majority of colleges-68 percent-have admissions policies favorable to homeschoolers, Patrick Henry is the nation's first post-secondary institution specifically to target them.
"The distinctives of Patrick Henry College arise out of the values of the homeschooling movement-a strong Christian worldview, classical education, and apprenticeship training in the major fields," explained Mike Farris, who left his post as president of the Home School Legal Defense Association to become Patrick Henry's founding president. The college will stress apprenticeships during which students will take on real state- and national-level legislative tasks. The offices of Reps. Dick Armey, Steve Largent, and Tom DeLay have expressed interest in working with the college. Professors will guide students through research, writing, and production.
To the school's core major, Mr. Farris plans to add undergraduate programs in law, journalism, computer science, and business. Meanwhile, government is the focus. Each student will be required to write on 27 public-policy subjects-budgeting, constitutional law, international issues, and religious freedom among them.