HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Senator Dancergurl” is a pseudonym specifically chosen by the author.
The thing to remember about American higher education is that it’s a business.
The goal of colleges and universities isn’t student success or an excellent education, it’s profit. Of course there are wonderful, helpful people that work in higher ed (I’m one of them). At the end of the day, however, full time enrollment numbers and meeting budget goals will always trump student satisfaction. Higher education as a whole is a capitalistic enterprise.
Patrick Henry is marketed as a different breed of college. It’s not Liberty (tighter admissions, more student rules), it’s not Bob Jones (fewer rules and denim skirts) and it’s not your local state university. It’s like Yale, only Christian. And not as old or prestigious.
A quick glance at the student body of PHC highlights just how different it is. The student body is depicted as a group of responsible, articulate young adults being sharpened to shape and lead a nation back from the brink of disaster spiritually, socially and fiscally. Students are expected to have it all together and to reflect a perfect image. There are no crazy parties, no premarital sex and no inebriation. Students are bound to a higher calling.
My experience at PHC isn’t vastly different from others. I decided to attend because, as a conservative 18 year old, I wasn’t interested in binge drinking or sleeping around. I was sold the misconception that all non-Christian schools were party schools and that the only way to avoid all the sinful influences was to attend a school that embraced Christian values.
PHC appealed to my pride. I spent the better part of my teenage years creating an amazingly perfect, Christian exterior. I obeyed my parents and followed all the rules. These actions inevitably brought me no peace. But my carefully cultivated image made me the perfect PHC candidate: white, middle to upper class, Christian and Republican. You will not find a PHC student that does not fit at least one of these categories and only a few don’t fall under at least two or more.
Rules were a massive purveyor of brand management. Sure, many believed it was unBiblical to drink, smoke and have sex, but these rules were (and still are) widely used to attract a certain demograph of student and exude a squeaky clean Christian image. What falls under the guise of Biblical guidance is also convenient for recruitment and administrators used that to their advantage.
Administrators also tout the “no government funding” rule as an example of their Godliness. The reality is PHC would be required to offer more services to students (ADA services, financial aid assistance and following the Clery Act to name a few) thus costing them more money. This fact has been spun as an exciting policy to students, when the reality is it’s harmful and discriminatory.
Further, administration actively lied about campus safety and security to keep in line with brand management. The annual campus security report regularly detailed no crime on campus, including no burglaries or sexual assaults. Because these were not reported to the police it was as if they did not happen. (Indeed, PHC’s fear of police involvement is well documented.)
Perhaps the greatest travesty for students, however, is PHC’s lack of regional accreditation. Administration continually downplays this fact, however, this essentially means that PHC is swindling students out of a four year degree. Transferring out midway is difficult without losing credits and pursuing further education after graduation usually means retaking several (if not all) general education requirements.
None of these things are particularly surprising or different from any institution of higher education. As I said, higher education is a business and businesses need profit. The problem that I have is that PHC was presented to us as different. It was special. We were sold a bill of goods.
In the end, the sad truth is that caveat emptor applies even to the Christianity brand.