Pulitzer Prize winners graduated from this cattle ranch

Universities with low acceptance rates have always fascinated students, scholars and the public. This is because institutions like Harvard, Oxford, Stanfordand Cambridge don’t just have single-digit acceptance rates for fun – as the best schools in the world, they maintain a rigorous selection process. Gaining admission to one of these universities can open the door to a bright future, thanks to the rigorous academic programs they offer as well as a powerful alumni network – some of which include Pulitzer Prize winners.

When you think of the best universities, what comes to mind are big campuses, sprawling football fields, and state-of-the-art buildings — not a cattle ranch. Believe it or not, there’s a cattle ranch forty miles from Bishop, California that moves 300 applications each year, but admits only 14 students. Here is what you need to know about this one-of-a-kind institute called Deep Springs College.

Deep Springs College not only produces Pulitzer Prize winners, it also fosters a deep sense of responsibility in all of its students. Source: Leigh Vogel/AFP

It was built by a tycoon who wanted to staff his business

The college was founded by an electricity magnate and philanthropist LL Nunn. He realized the importance of using electricity for mining and started a business that required him to build and take over power plants all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. He needed bright young men to run these factories, so he began recruiting them so they could receive extensive training – for free – before taking on leadership roles in his business.

Each “student” received a internal education system it required both work and tuition before receiving scholarships to continue their education at elite universities like Cornell University. Soon after, education became a priority for Nunn who wanted to build a college that would prepare students for a “life of service to humanity”. Deep Springs College admitted its first class of 20 students in 1917.

This is a two year program

Deep Springs College is a unique institution of higher learning. Its educational program is based on three pillars: academics, student autonomy and manual labor. Each student receives a full scholarship; the college covers tuition, room and board for each student offered.

Many outstanding colleges have begun to adopt the “microcollege“model – any form of concentrated post-secondary education – pioneered by Deep Springs College, as Tideline Institute and outer coast. Despite differences in location, curriculum, and goals, all schools share Nunn’s vision, which was to revitalize higher education in the outdoors and produce well-rounded, independent graduates.

There are no majors

Like alone 12 to 15 students are admitted each academic year, all students must bring a high level of preparation and commitment to their courses, which are usually built around seminar-style discussions.

However, there is a catch. Unlike most American universities, Deep Springs College has no majors. Most students take two to three courses per semester, choosing from offerings in areas such as the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the arts. Some mods recently offered include Conservation Science, Aristotle’s Ethics, Painting, Mathematics in Politics, Modern Essay, Race and Education, Magical Realism, Congo War and Peace and the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

After completing Deep Springs two-year programmost students to transfer to four-year institutions to complete their bachelor’s degree. Students receive support and guidance throughout the transfer process, and many continue to attend famous institutions like Yale University, brown universityand the University of Chicago.

pulitzer prize winners

The students must operate a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere, to prepare them for a “life of service to humanity”. Credit: Justin Sullivan/AFP

Students are subjected to manual labor

In addition to their course load, each Deep Springs student works approximately twenty hours a week on a fully operational cattle ranch. The students have to do everything from milking the cows and irrigating the 155-acre alfalfa farm to preparing meals and cleaning the dishes of the community three times a day.

Deep Springs students change job every two to four months, so that each of them learns to be useful on a farm. Most students rotate positions every two months, although some positions require a four-month commitment. However, the work is not done in exchange for the scholarship, but rather allows students to envision their role in a community. Students will learn to work hard, be independent and develop a sense of belonging and responsibility.

The students govern the college

The Student Council is responsible for many aspects of College management, from admitting students to hiring faculty, and even reviewing student and faculty performance – something not possible in traditional institutions. The student body exists as a separate and autonomous entity within the College, responsible for governing itself and working with staff and faculty in the day-to-day running of the college.

Students elected to leadership positions within the student body meet at least once a week to deliberate and act on matters concerning community life, work, academic planning, disciplinary matters, election of student office holders, etc.

pulitzer prize winners

If you aspire to be the next Hilary Clinton, it’s worth applying to a competitive university and receiving a top-notch education. Source: Michael Loccisano/AFP

It has distinguished alumni

Perhaps the most telling evidence of a world-class institution is its ability to produce outstanding graduates. For example, Oxford University was where one of the most influential writers in the English language – JRR Tolkien – graduated. Hillary Clinton was one of 27 women of a class of 235 law students to graduate from Yale University.

Just like these remarkable universities, many graduates of Deep Springs College have gone on to achieve success in life. The college has distinguished alumni; Raymond Jeanlozgeophysicist and MacArthur Fellow, journalists Philippe Kennicot and Zacharie Mider – both Pulitzer Prize winners, Andy Kimmember of the United States Congress, and Michael Putneyan Emmy Award-winning television journalist.


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