HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Adriel” is a pseudonym.
I’m a current student at PHC (about to start my junior year) and I happened across your call for stories. I’m very interested in sharing my experience thus far! I’ve shared your call to a few other PHC students as well. Hopefully many of them will e-mail you. (I also hope that many of them will think to e-mail you from their student e-mail accounts. That serves to prove that this e-mail is actually coming from a PHC student.)
While I know that some people have had a negative experience at PHC, mine has been mostly positive, although there has been a bit of both. I’ll provide you with a sampling of events from my time at PHC, in the hopes that some of them will prove informative.
My school experience.
Like many PHC students, I was homeschooled through high school. Like quite a few PHC students, I also spent a year at a local community college before attending PHC.
Homeschooling, while an overall positive experience, left me very socially awkward (part of that was simply my introverted personality) and sheltered. Community college, while also an overall positive experience, left me independent in a way that was more like isolation.
When I arrived at PHC, I was distant from others, depressed for my future, and angry at God. I was nervous and unable to make decisions on my own. If PHC were the hyper-conservative ‘Homeschoolers University’ that it is made out to be, all of those problems would be exacerbated, with more besides. Rather, PHC has repaired me. I am strong, confident, capable. While still occasionally angry at God, I am learning to trust. I have friends, and I love people. I have hope.
PHC is not a perfect school. No school is a perfect school. But PHC has been good for me.
I rather like my school and my fellow students.
If I had only read about PHC online, and not actually been there, I might have a negative opinion of the school. But, having been here, I see a beauty and life in the school that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
I do not agree with everything that has been said by my fellow students. I do not agree with everything that has been said from the podium. I do not agree with everything that has been said from the podium and agreed with by the student body. (Those two sentences are very distinct, PHC is good about bringing in challenging speakers.) But I love my fellow students, respect the professors, and have grown significantly as a person in my time at PHC.
We grow at PHC.
A lot of PHC students, in my experience, enter PHC with a lot of growing up left to do. We’re sheltered in our understanding of the world, awkward in our interactions with others, and untempered in our views. Occasionally students will say or do things that reflect badly on the school. But that’s because we’re all growing, and PHC is a major part of that growth. PHC was a very healthy place for me at a time when I needed it, and it continues to be so. I’ve mellowed out, normalized. I’ve become more confident. I’ve decided that I disagree with my parents and PHC on some issues. I don’t feel ‘immodest’ in form-fitting clothing. Thanks to classes, readings, RAs, fellow students, work, professors, and many other aspects of life here, I’ve grown for the better.
I’ll give you an example of what this looks like on a larger scale: When the freshman classes come in, for the first several days, they seem to, of their own volition, sit at gender-segregated tables. Boys at this table, girls at that table. Sophomores and upperclassmen disapprove of this behavior. My class apparently desegregated quite quickly, and the upperclassmen were proud of us, as we are proud of the now-sophomore class for desegregating as quickly as they did.
I remember reading about the allegations of the mishandling of the sexual assault cases.
It sounded like it was about a completely different school. There was no moment in my readings about the allegations that made me say, “Yep, that’s my school.” For such an idiosyncratic place, I found it strange that that didn’t happen.
For example, the first thing that stood out to me was the depiction of Dean Corbitt.*** I could not reconcile the woman in those articles with the woman who spoke kindly and understandingly to me and ~4 other girls on why it is okay not to be perfect. I see her on campus frequently, and she is a real person, not the monster that the articles made her seem to be.
Regarding those cases, I trust my personal experience more than the writings of someone on the internet. I strongly doubt that the case was handled in the way that it was portrayed.
A note on PHC before my time there.
PHC has changed. The structure of rules for the students to follow has changed. In the past, there were some crazy rules, I’ve heard. But the current system is one I highly respect. We put virtue before legalism.
One specific example that I know about: There used to be a rule that students could not watch R-rated movies on campus. So, students would sit across the street from campus and watch whatever movies they chose. Now, we are simply told to exercise good judgement. If we believe that an R-rated movie would be edifying, we are free to watch it. If we think that a more mildly-rated movie would not be a good movie to watch, we can exercise our own judgement. It’s up to us to decide what we will watch, and we are encouraged to learn the skill of deciding for ourselves what is and is not beneficial.
Other rules have changed along similar lines. So if you hear, “PHC has a rule that the students can’t…” be aware that that statement may no longer be true.
We respond healthily to criticism.
There was a student in my class who left after freshman year. She was unique and interesting, and I respected her. She helped me pull a prank on another student and it was hilarious. After leaving, she posted her reasons on Facebook, and many of us read them. While some of what she’d seen at PHC took me by surprise, much of it rang true and pointed out flaws in the student body and the way we interacted.
At the beginning of sophomore year, my class held a student-organized prayer time in front of Founder’s Hall. We prayed for our class and for the incoming freshmen. One of the students delivered a brief prepared ‘sermon’. He quoted directly from that FB post, with his point being that we need to be more careful not to be the sort of people that she felt that we were.
A student criticized our school, and we read the criticism aloud with a determination not to be what she saw in us. I was proud of my fellow students for doing that.
I hope that this e-mail has been helpful, and that the e-mails that you receive will help you to better understand PHC.
I hope that the article which you write will be accurate to the stories that you have been told, as well as accurate to the reality of PHC.
I hope that you will tell others things that they may not expect to hear; that there is a healthy place full of homeschoolers who are growing and learning together.
I hope that you will tell us PHCers things that we didn’t expect to hear, that the anonymous format will allow my fellow students to deliver timely and accurate criticism, like that of the student I mentioned earlier.
I hope that no one will send you lies about our school. (Of course, knowing the internet, that is certain to happen.)
*** UPDATE 2 pm Pacific, 07/28/14: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the dean’s name as Thornhill.