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Hard Work Pays Off at "Hard Work U"

At College of the Ozarks, nicknamed "Hard Work U", no tuition is charged because every student works on campus.

Photo of Angela Shang
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According to a survey conducted by Citigroup and Seventeen Magazine, nearly 4 out of 5 college students work part-time jobs, but only 18% pay their own tuition. But what if an on-campus job could pay for your degree?


This is exactly the case at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. Every student at the university works 15 hours a week on campus, with jobs ranging from campus security to tending cattle, operating the school's power plant to cleaning hotel rooms (the university operates a 4-star hotel, museum, and dairy farm, among other facilities). Every student graduates debt-free, and lower income students can even work at the school during the summer to cover room and board. Even the university itself is debt-free; operating expenses come out of a $400 million endowment.


This operating model begs the question: in a country where university endowments frequently top $1 billion, what can universities do with these endowments, or their model as a whole, to make higher ed more affordable for their students?

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Photo of Raisa Lim

Hi Angela!
Fantastic! For me, I would definitely apply for the job in the college (if i go to that college). However, not all of the students are like me. I have several friends that dont want to have part-time job while they were a student. They prefer to really concentrate with their grades or they feel the subjects are too difficult, etc. Therefore, I think the best offering for a student to work on the campus must be an optional.

Photo of Angela Shang

Hi Raisa,

You raise a good point; many of my friends also feel that it is very hard to balance academics and a job, or that their other commitments will suffer as a result of holding a part-time job. However, after researching the subject, it turns out that if students don't work too many hours per week, there are actually positive benefits to working a campus job in the form of improved engagement and interactions (I found this article to be particularly educational on the subject: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/08/work). Still, I agree with you that working on campus should be optional because there may always be extenuating circumstances that prevent students from being able to work.

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