proud of my alma mater

I’m Proud of My Alma Mater for Getting Ranked “Lowest Return on Investment”

proud of my alma mater

Saturday, Ozark Christian College was ranked as the number 9 college “not worth the money” by Business Insider. I couldn’t be prouder. No, that’s not sarcasm – I’m beaming as I write and I’m proud of my alma mater.

See this kind of thing puts my little Alma Mater on the map while drafting up a stark contrast against those other 12 colleges Business Insider deemed “worthless.” At Ozark, they teach things like “who we teach you to love is more important than what we teach you to know.” The goal of the college has never been high-profit careers, and in an age plagued by greedy banks and out-of-control stock markets, that’s a beautiful thing.

proud of my alma materAs Seth Godin taught us in Linchpin, it’s the old forms of capitalism and communism that ask, “how much will we make?” The New Creatives, on the other hand, ask “how much do we care?” The latter measures the amount of humanity and excellence brought to the table. That in mind, Ozark has always taught us to do things well and to do them with great love.

When the ’08 crash kick-started the “Great Recession,” Ozark already boasted hundreds of alumni who served in some of the poorest nations on the planet, alumni that stand in solidarity with the poor. Countries like Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Haiti know nothing but constant recession year-in, year-out. While Wall Street whined about profit-loss, Ozark alumni cared for the poor.

Proud of my alma mater for lowest return?

This is the college where, during one chapel, I remember Dr. Mark Moore (University of Wales) requesting poverty relief for D.R. Congo. “I want you to go back to your dorms, back to your apartments and imagine a Congolese orphan or former child soldier standing next to you. And then I want you to grab anything that’s worthless compared to a fresh set of clothes or a meal and bring it back to give away.” The chapel stage that day filled to brimming with televisions, iPhones, computers, rare commentary sets – the list goes on – that were all sold to raise funds. This is the college whose alumni started refuge houses for sex-trafficked girls before that kind of thing came into vogue. This is the college whose grads were first on the ground during the Joplin tornado.

This is a college of world-changers.

proud of my alma materEven the men in my dorm who grew up to become graphic designers, film makers, storytellers, and audio engineers all excel in their fields. Guess what? Ozark doesn’t teach a single class in any of those areas. We Americans live in a culture that offers transitive education – you do this task, you perform this skill. That’s not working out so well for us, is it? In the middle of a transitive culture, Ozark offers an intransitive education – learn to think for yourself, speak for yourself, write for yourself. You don’t perform tasks at Ozark. You bloom. Every class features some piece of logic, rhetoric, or grammar that accelerates the maturity of her students. While other universities raise students up for now non-existent factories, Ozark expands minds and hearts so her students can create and enrich humanity in whatever context they find themselves. It’s a school unconcerned with the bottom line, because it digs toward a deeper bottom line…

“The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the neerest by possessing our souls of true vertue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.

– John Milton, “Of Education”

My friend Stephen responded to the survey with W.E.B. DuBois:

“Whither, then, is the new-world quest of Goodness and Beauty and Truth gone glimmering? Must this, and that fair flower of Freedom which, despite the jeers of latter-day striplings, sprung from our fathers’ blood, must that too degenerate into a dusty quest of gold?
…the true college will ever have one goal — not to earn meat, but to know the end and aim of that life which meat nourishes.”

If learning how to sell everything I have and give to the poor, to walk the second mile, to love my enemies and neighbors, to put a tornado-devastated city back together piece-by-piece is “unprofitable,” then I don’t know if I ever want to make a profit again. That in mind, I suppose Mother Theresa’s work among poor lepers was “unprofitable.” Martin Luther King Jr.’s work among poor African Americans was “unprofitable.” Francis of Assisi’s peacemaking work among poor Europeans during the crusades was “unprofitable.” Ozark’s a school that follows a homeless, crucified savior who gave himself for everyone else. Profitability’s not an A-priotity. Nor a-priori. Ozark’s a school of alumni that keep founding non-profit organizations. They care more about observations and experiences that exegete the human condition and invent workable solutions than about profit.

READ NEXT:  Will My Alma Mater Save 9 Million Dollars ?

In an academic climate where students will most certainly enslave themselves under the tyranny of near-unrepayable debt, Ozark remains the only college I would choose for a master. If they are “unprofitable,” it’s only because they choose to work in the framework of a broken system where American banks get a hall-pass to solicit ignorant freshmen and lobby for jacked-up tuition prices. We need more schools willing to crawl down into the mud and offer sanity, more schools that care about enabling their students to learn and mature rather than to take the next class. Open courseware’s a good start, but we need more ideas, and good ideas come from good-idea cultures. Ozark’s unprofitable by an outer association, but not an inner culture. If our education system’s broken, then Ozark’s one of the few schools mending it: they refuse to worry about profit and maintain the lowest costs compared to her peers, all while driving her students toward sacrificial generosity.

And no, I don’t work for the college. I’m just one more graduate who passionately cares for the work of the school.

As for the survey, basic statistics theory asks this question first: what are the demographics of this study? How big was the sample size? A bit of digging revealed that only 31 people filled out this survey (thanks, Troy).

I don’t know if they will – I’m just some no-name recent grad – but if my fellow alumni choose to pass this post around, I guarantee we can easily get over 31 grads who think the Ozark experience was well worth every penny, interest included.

If you read this and you stand for, in, with, or by Ozark – just comment below with a simple “worth it.” You might also add where you serve, your age, your chosen profession, your degree, or a story about how Ozark influenced your life for the better.


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PS> UPDATE (5.10.13) :: For those who choose to tweet this, I believe they’re using #WorthIt


  1. Worth it! Though I did not attend, and have never visited, three of the most influential people in my life today graduated from Ozark. Their leadership at our SoCal church has guided me and hundreds of others into serving as the hands and feet. My small contribution has been with media production and helping out as a volunteer during services. It has also sent me on two international mission trips so far (one with my 11-year-old son), and another for my wife and daughter. Our lives are changed for the better because of grads Rusty George, Steve Meyers, and Michael DeFazio. Thank you, Ozark, for making a true difference in thousands of lives across the U.S. and the world.

  2. I’d have to say, as a current student who sometimes worries about school debt, that every dollar I spend here is worth it. This is a place that will change the lives of many leaders who will leave this place and be the spark to a chain reaction of sparks. We are the people of God. Each and every one of us are a spark to the dark world. We will be a city on a hill, burning brightly. What we do after we leave this place will exponentially and eternally change the world.

    What was the price on my head, because of sin, that Jesus was willing to pay? The answer to that is certainly worth every dollar I spent going to Ozark Christian College. Worth it.

  3. totally worth it! Founder of Christ’s Word For All Nations, laboring in Kenya to teach and train leaders in the Word of God, helping with adult literacy, transforming cultures through theGospel of Jesus Christ.

  4. This pretty much proves how wrong that original ROI article was. It’s hard to quantify how worth it OCC has been to so many graduates and people ministered to by those graduates!

  5. So worth it!
    I didn’t graduate from there, but the 2 years i spent there i learned so much about serving and was inspired by passionate professors. I was encouraged to get involved in churches in Joplin and started working with teens. Now i’m a youth coach with my husband (unpaid) and i feel so richly blessed by the teens that i get to encourage and nudge in the right direction. Now when i go to Christ In Youth functions with the teens from my church, it is like going to a college reunion. I always see other former OCC students with the youth groups and love getting to talk to them. (i’m a stay at home foster mom who volunteers with teens, so i make no money, but i wouldn’t change it for the world.

  6. Worth it. Graduated from OCC in 2007 with a BTh in Missions. We may make very little by the world’s standards but we have been able to see God do great things here in Honduras and it is definitely worth it.

    Good job, Lance. Excellent article.

  7. Worth It…Best BAD investment I have ever made!

    I did not get the opportunity to be a student at Ozark…and lose count the number of times I think about wishing I had been given the chance to attend there. I have walked on campus, shot hoops on the bball court outside, ate plenty of food in the Caf, attended many classes, stayed in the dorms, attended Chapel, played ping pong in the Student Center, visited professor’s offices, purchased books at the bookstore, made a few visits to the Financial Aid office and have even attended Commencement…in some ways it sounds kinda like I was a student…

    I can tell you that I have made my share of St. Louis to Joplin roadtrips…hauling more stuff back and forth on I-44 than Two Men & a Truck. I may even hold some kind of record for the number of times I have walked up and down Dennis Hall stairs (thankfully, usually only to the 2nd floor), and waited more hours in the Dennis lobby than most boyfriends have. I have traveled the 600 miles (roundtrip) for long weekends, short weekends, HS retreats, surprise birthday visits, and even made the trip there and back in the same evening once.

    Everytime I arrive on Ozark’s campus it feels good to be there…it just feels right. I have cried on trips down to OCC and shed many a tear on the way back north after leaving. I have memories that I cherish and gained lasting friendships from meeting people for the first time there.

    My wife and I have invested heavily in OCC…two daughters who are graduates and daughter #3 soon will complete her freshman year…my son has plans to make it four out of four children to attend Ozark…I continually browse The Compass trying to find that “buy 3, get the 4th one free coupon” to no avail…yet. I have gained two sons (thru marriage) – both Ozark graduates also – and even walked one daughter down the aisle in the Chapel on her wedding day. I have another daughter graduating this month who is not like family – she is family to us. So my math skills compute the following: started with 3 daughters and now have 4 + started with 1 son and have 3 (so far)…that’s a good investment for starters…

    I could go on and on and list the Essential knowledge learned, the maturity displayed, the Gifts made known and shared with others, the sacrifices made, etc…but if you’re reading down this blog this far still, you already get the picture…

    My children have Served and continue to Serve in Jesus’ name.


    But let’s get back to the numbers…By the time #4 child graduates I will have invested more in OCC than I originally paid for my house – need I say more? OCC is an investment that does not depreciate…like brick & mortar seems to do these days…or any other material thing in this “material world” does.

    Oh, one more thing…the author of this blog is one of those “bonus” sons as my wife likes to put it…so proud of how he can put stuff down on paper to communicate and then watch and see how God can do so much more with it than we can ever imagine…that’s just one of those “intangible benefits” that the world seems to have so much difficulty in quantifying…

    Lance, you made me cry this morning while reading your blog at breakfast…as I prepared for a day of sightseeing in Jerusalem today…imagine that timing…that was sure a good investment that paid many dividends to me as I walked where Our Savior walked and as I reflected on His teachings – especially to those He spoke in the very city I was in today!

    Press On Ozark Christian College! You have the most important job in the world…and I am thankful you are willing to do it.

  8. Worth It. 2012 Graduate, 24 yo and a youth minister in Fort Collins, CO. My life was changed at OCC. Huge steps in my faith made that are still pushing me to Christlikeness. Met my wife there (of course) and formed relationships that will last my entire life. So thankful for my mentors and professors, as well as the older and younger students who influenced me.

  9. Worth it! I graduated with an Associates in Ministry (music emphasis) in ’86 and then worked on a PHT (putting hubby through) with my late husband, who graduate with his BS in Christian Ed in ’89). We had 20 wonderful years in children’s ministry, mainly in California and Colorado. I was finally able to complete my BS in Management in 2006 by transferring to Hope Int’l University’s online program. The only “bad thing” about Ozark that I had to deal with was the regional accreditation issues. I was very limited in where my credits would transfer. However, I don’t think I would want Ozark to have to sacrifice any of its integrity just to accommodate the accreditation committee. I think the best bet is to continue working on cooperative programs with Missouri Southern and PSU in order to get facilitate the needs of those wanting to be in the service-minded atmosphere as well as seeking a degree plan in another area that Ozark doesn’t or can’t provide. I know that I wouldn’t trade my experience at Ozark for anything. It was fantastic.

  10. WORTH IT. I love Ozark. I got the BBL in 2000 (before it was a BA) and when I went to seminary on the West Coast, I was shocked at how much Bible I knew compared to seniors in the MDiv and ThM programs. OCC not only formed my knowledge, but my soul. I found out who I was there, and fell deeply in love with the Gospel. I still cherish friends from there and talk to them regularly.

    Ozark is definitely worth it… not sure if the world is worthy of a place like OCC 🙂

  11. WORTH IT! Bachelors of Ministry Emphasis on Church Planting.
    OCC has taught me so much. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better place to be prepared for ministry. You learn much self-discipline, courage, and MUCH BIBLE! Blessed to be a part of this body.

  12. Oh, so worth it!! I graduated from Ozark with a BBL in 1994 before serving on the mission field nine years. I currently serve on a church staff in the Northwest as the communications director. After graduating from OCC I’ve never wanted to have just “a job” that isn’t first a place of ministry and growing as part of the body of Christ. No, OCC didn’t train me to fight for the highest paying position in a major company, but I did learn a lot about making a difference in light of eternity. Totally worth it!

  13. Worth it. Met my bride here, first of all. Challenged by great profs to think critically. Gained a passion for visible unity across all lines society draws. Now part of the team working on this important affordability piece -for current and future students. To keep costs low, we need to do a better job of cultivating relationships with our younger alumni and the churches and individuals with which they serve. I know this: nobody working at Ozark is getting rich in the earthly sense. It’s not like there’s a small contingency pocketing money. :0). Anyway… humbled to be on staff and proud of this place. Thanks for your post, Lance.

  14. Worth it !! My wife and I have seen how our daughter has grown in many ways… She is radiant as ever when she talks about the love that she has for the Lord. OCC has helped blossom that beautiful Texas rose. Thanks to the blogger for speaking up. As we say in Texas, “Bless there heart” to the ones who choose NOT to go to OCC.

  15. More than worth it!!!
    Not only do I take issue with the methodology of the article that spawned this discussion, but the premise that money is what we seek from our education is flawed.
    When I was going through school at Ozark I worked for Wal-Mart so I could cover my bills. I am a person that has difficulty separating my work and personal life. This caused stress and frustration in my life because I would get incredibly stressed by the intense revenue-driven environment. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe that I am working this hard, and being this stressed for something as temporary as money.” I thought that if I was going to be that stressed it should be for something that really mattered. My life is honestly still filled with stress, but I am changing lives and bringing the light of truth into a dark world. My payoff will be in Heaven when I see the lives that are there because of my work.

    The ultimate test of ROI will be shown when all those who came to Christ because of OCC and the students she produced are compared with Harvey Mudd College (the school ranked first in the article). I have a very strong feeling that the ROI that matters will be HEAVILY in OCC’s favor.

    Minister in Amoret, Missouri.
    Met my wife at OCC as well.

  16. Hi Lance and friends,
    let me say first that Ozark is very much a family school; my brother Levi and sister Heidi attended there, and I married into the “Lang Dynasty”. Ozark is very much a family school, but I did not graduate from there.
    I have graduated from Houghton College, another Christian school which was documented recently in Forbes Magazine as being in the top 4% of colleges nationwide for the same criteria.
    I do not “post to boast”, but as an “Ozark brother” I believe I have a unique perspective from attending both colleges. At Houghton I graduated more properly from the Greatbatch School of Music, named after the Houghton professor Wilson Greatbatch who developed and patented the implantable pace-maker. He was a scholar-servant whose life-long motto was: “if, in the LORD’s sight it is right, then do it with all your might.” and so from this we have an example of a man who worked to serve the Lord, and yet was rewarded in earthly terms.
    It is a basic truth that if you serve someone, they will often thank you in the currency most meaningful to them. If you serve a close relation, often you will be thanked not with money but with time, simple gifts, spiritual gifts and affection. (one part that makes Ozark “worth it”.) If you provide a service to the world, they will often thank you with money (the most meaningful currency to them).
    My observation is this,
    it is the Ozark graduates’ glory if they did not choose the higher paying job,
    but it is not the Ozark graduates’ glory if they could not choose the higher paying job.
    – what if the linguistics department were so strong that a graduate could just as easily be hired as a United Nations diplomat, as become a Bible translator in a third world country.
    – what if Ozark had a computer sciences program that a graduate could make evangelistic videos of professional quality just as easily as they could earn a job at IBM?
    the Bible gives us the model of fishermen becoming Jesus’ chosen apostles, but it also gives the model of Paul, the true academic who also chose the path of the servant: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more…” (Philippians 3:4)
    as J.S. Bach wrote at the end of every manuscript,
    Soli Deo Gloria

    1. Interesting thoughts. I’ll be interested to see how the others on here respond to this.

      I’ll mention in passing at the start that the linguistics department is that strong assume you talk to the right people and create the right classes. I took both Latin and German extra-curricularly at Ozark for fun. Those boys above who got full rides to SLU got them by having Ancient Sumerian, Accadian, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin on their transcripts as well as some practice in German and Jordan’s now learning French while in France. He and his wife could easily do UN work down the road if they wanted. As for Bible translation, Molly French planned on doing just that with a similar degree. Computer sciences is a better argument in my opinion, but I think I could still point to some autodidacts who taught themselves the craft because they learned to learn.

      For me, the question would be this: Does Houghton (as the representative ideal) live up to the the criteria posted in my response? I believe that there are even liberal arts institutions around the country that offer intransitive educations and have nothing to do with Christianity, but they are even fewer than those Christian colleges that practice this — perhaps because Christian colleges are more readily medieval in their mindset? In any case, few institutions practice this sort of education, an education that can easily meld in and out of various fields of employment / production.

      In other words if we simply because a task-teaching school, then we’ve missed the point. But I would argue that degrees mean little to nothing in today’s climate, that you can get a $100k education for a buck-fifty in late fees from the library and simple interviews from experts in their fields. Open courseware simply further expands the possibilites here, as indicated by the man who recently patched together a liberal arts education for $10k and guys like Steve Jobs that never went to college. All of those I linked to above (the graphic designer, the audio engineer, the filmmaker, the storyteller) are autodidacts — they taught themselves. Heck, I taught myself photomanipulation by reading posts and entering contests on Do I do that any more? Well no, but I learned it in the same way those career designers and more learned it — I looked it up and read and watched and studied.

      The question is not “does college teach them to perform task in their industry of choice” but “does college teach them to teach themselves?”

      If it cannot do the latter, it cannot do the former.

    2. Lance, I appreciate your thoughts.
      Houghton College is not “the ideal”; the ideal is beyond a singular institution, although it does fulfill the requirements of your question: a liberal arts institution that teaches creative thinking beyond rote-learning.
      I agree that we must “get the point” of the gospel first, and everything beyond that is secondary. My observation is that the majority of graduates from Bible Colleges do not take up pulpit ministry for their vocation after graduation; and that is fabulous because we need passionate Christians in every workplace. And so after being “sent out” we rely on the tools we have been given and the tools we have sharpened ourselves to do work in the Kingdom (the work that these boys and girls above are doing). The question I am asking is, can we do a better job at being prepared in the medium we have been entrusted with? (graphic design, audio engineering, etc.) because I believe that if a Christian ethic and vision transforms Wall Street and Broadway and Silicon Valley, the world will soon take notice.
      In many ways, Lance, I think we are fired up about the same vision. I have been doing in western New York exactly the same things you are talking about. the number one music school in America is here, and annual tuition alone is over $44,000. I decided to take an alternate route. I banged on doors at this school for four months and was turned down by three violin professors before I was given a single hearing by one professor after I prayed and prayed. I have continued on with this teacher and I believe that I will make a difference, but the Christian community needs, in this generation as in every generation, to create new poetry that holds the same truth.

    3. Thanks, bro.

      Yeah, I didn’t mean the “ideal” thing to sound snarky — I just meant Houghton seems to fill the requirements you mentioned, so if we extrapolate it out as an archetype, where does it leave us? Good to know they’re teaching the same…

      I agree with you about getting to the gospel, but I was even going beyond that with this article. Intransitive teaching, in my estimation, needs to happen first — starting as soon as the child enrolls in school. It doesn’t. We teach math to our kindergardeners and, rightly so, they ask as highschoolers “When are we going to use this in real life?” That’s not a problem with algebra. That’s a problem with learning in general. Unfortunately in this culture, we must wait until college to have any hope of learning to learn. The high schools that show us working exceptions prove the rule: none of us modern Americans know how to learn at an early age. We simply prepare for the factory. 2 + 2 = 4 and you’re good. We must set a higher standard and lean in toward the right side of the bell curve, not the left.

      That said, you’re talking about Bible College graduates not going into preaching ministry. Agreed that we need solid people of integrity in the workplace, I think we can and should be better prepared in the medium we have been called to… but if that’s the case, we don’t need Bible Colleges in general. In my opinion, we’d be better off if the churches did this work and I think they will in a hundred years from now, but we must work with what we have — right now, the Bible College model is how we disciple AND the good ones happen to be providing the majority of what little intransitive education remains in the Americas. If any give person has already gotten an intransitive education, I say they’d best move on to learn their medium however they can. Heck, I learned to knit through YouTube and a four-dollar book.

      Which is what the majority of OCC grads say: go to Ozark for a year and then go wherever you need to go.

      Which is also what you yourself seem to have done.

      Which is why both your assumptions and your argument are predicated, even if only in part, on an Ozark education.

      Again, I’m not being mean here. Not in the least. I’m merely pointing out the logic undergirding this line of thinking…

      As for culture-creators, the best ones I know have been influenced by Ozark or Ozark-like institutions. I spent a weekend getting oriented to my forwarding agency, which is a collective of artists who care deeply about giving grace to the world through service. I met Leann Rimes’ guitar player, a grammy & dove award-winning producer, a lady whose paintings currently hang in the European Parliament, all influenced by this kind of education and all taking good care of the people in their lives. I still maintain that excellence in your given craft is just one of many hues in the spectrum of an intransitive education and those who listen will naturally bloom in whatever field they find themselves within. You seem to have done so, even if it meant jumping from one to the other.

      But yeah, you’re right. In the end, we’re fired up over the same thing. I just really REALLY believe in the power of autodidacticism within the life of the young adult. SO glad to hear that you’ve been living and working this out in upstate NYC. Gosh, that tuition’s high. Which school? You seem to have the kind of tenacity and ambition I admire — the sort that was in James and John and was diverted by Jesus toward service for the other. Such an awesome story and so glad you got picked up. How many years have you been at it?

      “Create new poetry that holds the same truth.”

      Man after my own heart. That’s exactly what we talk about on here all day every day: How do we recast language to express our own relational thoughts? In short: How better Imago Dei?

    4. hey Lance, thanks for your dialogue and heart.
      I think that you’re right about beginning an “intransitive” education from a young age- my main criticism is that I have met many people who follow this model, and the only thing truly intransitive about their approach to learning/success is their wardrobe and blackberry. “fake it ’til you make it” is sometimes a motto for this. In the primary education system (ages 5-18), maybe we should not ask questions like: “what is the meaning of pi?”, rather, “what is the process that must take place in order for me to come to the mastery of this skill?” that is truly an intransitive process that imbues meaning to 2+2 at age 5 and you + editor at age 25.
      you are correct, my time at OCC had influence on me; I learned what it means to be a disciple there. my conviction, though, was a “yes, but” conviction. “yes, I know that who you teach me to love is more important that what you teach me to know. But what you teach me to know is very important.” My conviction was influenced by the research of psychologists such as Anders Ericsson (10,000 hour rule), Oliver Sacks, Daniel Levitin, and others who insist that a base-level of training must occur in the brain before a certain age (usually 26) or certain neural pathways shut down. And so, insisting that I would be the best God-glorifying artist that I could be, I decided that the present growth pattern I was in was not working, and made a change, Which brings me back to the original recommendation of a liberal-arts education in a Christian context, and in that sense my argument is not predicated on an Ozark education. here, I believe there is the organic growth of the entire person, not putting any potential “on-hold” for even a year, but allowing growth spiritually, socially, academically, and professionally at the same time.
      What is your forwarding agency? that sounds like a blast! are you in NYC right now?
      the school I was referring to is the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. I have been in the Rochester area 2 years now.
      I must say, I heard your senior sermon at Ozark, I was impressed with you then, and I know God will continue to do great things with you.
      What is happening with you right now?

    5. Yeah, unfortunately some pretty lame people have taken a really great word and applied it to a nonexistent education system. I think that’s a good question to start off. Also “what does it mean ‘to know?'” or “what does it mean to work?” or “how small is small?”

      In response to the love/know dichotamy, I’ll quote Socrates:

      “I know nothing.”

      And Paul:

      “I know nothing except Christ and him crucified.”

      I try to start there with every endeavor. It’s when I try to assume knowledge that I actually lose. But there is still this base-level training thing…

      Question: what would you consider “base-level” knowledge? Perhaps it’s not “I know [this]” but rather “I know how to admit ‘I don’t know’ in every endeavor;” not “I feel [this]” but rather “I have felt that which goes beyond feeling;” not “I have achieved [this]” but rather “I have achieved failure and loss and now see their value;” not “I have done [this]” but “I have been undone” ?

      I like the sound of what you’re saying, but I feel as if I’m still miscommunicating my own: we cannot learn tasks until we’ve learned to unlearn our very selves in the face of any task left undone. I know that sounds eastern or whatever, but I actually mean it: I don’t know anything. That assumption has made me an autodidact. I read a half dozen books based on Warren Buffett’s investing this weekend and trade far better than I did. Why? Because I know nothing about investing. Ozark taught me how to admit my ignorance, my apathy, my ambivalence, my inaction so that I can learn from the wise, stand with the zealous, feel with the hurting, act with the activists. I think it impossible for me to learn, feel, will, or do until I discover how ignorant, heartless, stubborn, and passive I truly am. And I actually don’t think those can be taught at the same time. I’ve had to relearn mathematical equations I “knew” in high school, reread books that were assigned and have now taken on new depths, etc.

      Artists in Christian Testimony. We’re not there yet. Currently raising support, but even the support raising is fun because we get to cast vision and get people excited about the work in Brooklyn!

      I think I’ve heard of that school now. Sounds like a blast.

      Thanks so much for the compliments, but I assure you that if there was anything good in that sermon, it came from the Holy Spirit, not from me. I’m just a vessel that tends to get in the way — like a jerky transmission in an otherwise brand-new car.

      As for me, I’m publishing as often as the editors of various journals allow me. I’m copywriting for businesses and marketing agencies as well as writing short scripts and long research reports for nonfiction writers and non-profits. Occasionally I’ll do a manuscript evaluation or a story consulting session with a writer, but those happen less than the copy and scripts. Fun stuff, but working my way into the fiction market bit by bit.

      Thanks for asking, Isaac. Good to have you on board here.

  17. I will say that I am a graduate of Ozark Christian College (2000). I understand that the survey that places Ozark on the “not worth it” list was/is flawed. However, I do not see Bible College worth it. No, it isn’t about money we don’t eneter ministry to make money. This doesn’t change the fact that is costs more money (5-10k per year more on average than a State University) to attend a Bible college. It doesn’t change the fact that debt is the number one reason for minister’s getting divorced. It doesn’t change the fact that debt is the number one reason ministers leave ministry – becuase they have to make a living that will provide for their families and pay off debt. I have read a lot about Ozark Christian College being worth it based on the ministry it’s students have been doing around the world. I am with you, this is great stuff! – BUT, are you meaning to tell me that Bible College is the reason? Brothers and Sisters, the reason marriages have been mended, people have come to know Jesus and ministry of all stripes is accomplished in the lives of people belongs to Jesus Christ living through your life…This is not the result of attending Bible college. The simple and practical fact is that a Bible College education will cost you more than your earning potential in most student’s cases. This isn’t the case for State Colleges, in fact, a BA in Theology may earn an average of 40k year salary, while a BA in say Buisness Managment will earn 80k a year salary and cost you half of what that Bible College Education charged you. And guess what? This world could use some godly Christian buisness men with integrity.

    1. It ain’t about the Benjamins John

      Many go to OCC because God calls them there

      I wasn’t worried about earning a lot when I got outta there. I was interested in putting into action all that I’ve learned.

      I think the BA in Theology salary compared to a business degree is a weak argument

    2. I understand its not about the money. I get that. I am just making the point that Bible College causes a lot of debt. The BA in Theology vs. BA Buisness Management is used to show the comparison between a high theology undergrad degree that costs half again as much and in many cases twice as much with a n earning potential at roughly half when compared to a BA degree from a State college. I am not comparing study load… I am comparing tuition cost and earning potential. NO… minsitry isn’t about the money, I agree. However, our Bible colleges places their students in debt. Am I not to be a goodsteward of what God has given me? Am I being a good steward by paying outragious Bible College tuition that will keep me in debt for most of my adult life? When it comes down to it, in my opinion, those who graduated from OCC and its administration has had a knee jerk reaction to the practical facts of tuition cost not correlating to the degrees they are offering and then scrambling to justify it by claiming that alumni’s ministry accomplishments were some how only possible becuase they attended Ozark.. this is ridiculous. I love Jesus, I am nothing without Him and His grace is overflowing and I will always strive to be more like Christ. This was and is not the result of attending Ozark, this is the result of Jesus in my life. That is my point. Then, where does this leave the facts of a Bible College tuition and earning potential for those who want to support their families and make a reasonable living all the while trying to pay off student loans that are unreasonably high?

    3. Thanks for the response, John. Good thoughts.

      Again, I’d point out that *education* causes a lot of debt in the current climate, and only assuming a student is unwilling to take their time in paying off school by alternating work and schooling — something that more and more people are willing to do since experience, not degrees, are governing the workplace. The most consistent phrase I heard from my youth minister growing up (James Hauser above ^) was “go to Ozark for a year, then do whatever you want” — the education equivalent of Augustine’s “love Jesus and do what you will.”

      I maintain that unchecked rising tuition costs (shown in the chart from the article you share below) coupled with a deregulated financial industry (I paid interest to US Bank — which was backed by the government — for my loans), signed by individual students puts students in debt. Bible Colleges have enslaved spare few, in my experience, but the principalities and powers along with a radical capitalism seem hell-bent on creating a utopia of usury through slaves named “debtors.”

      Granted, better financial counseling would encourage students to avoid this, but the ladies in OCC’s financial department were some of the best advisors I had at the school. I was debt-free after two short years thanks to their help, a massive scholarship from my home church given to anyone that went to bible college, my own part-time work, and grants provided by the school. I stand by what I said — those who create innovative options for the future are making the financial end of Bible College easier, but applying statements that affect the general climate of education to Bible College in a specific, isolated, superlative sense cannot help. It can’t. Talk about reform of our current education climate, talk about innovating new forms of education, talk about how churches could reinvent this unchecked assumption in America — that “we need” a degree to thrive in the workplace — but don’t blame it on Bible Colleges.

      Especially not on one of the cheapest in our movement.

      So let’s say “worth it” in a financial sense, if we insist on going that route. I’m nuts to talk like this since Christ, not money, is my God. But if you insist on speaking of the virtues of an ROI argument, then let’s use me as an example. I’ve been debt-free for three years thanks to the empowerment put in place by the college, my home church, and my desire to work. I married a woman whose father paid for the remainder of her education after a church scholarship, a scholarship from the school, and grants. The whole no-debt thing was further emphasized while we were at college. We have an emergency fund (also encouraged through Ozark mentors), though it’s low right now due to some significant dental bills and some chronic illness. We’ve grown an investment portfolio thanks to the help of a former financial consultant we met at Ozark with money we earned through skills acquired while at Ozark and additionally as a result of Ozark’s intransitive education that grew us into life-learners. For me, that means copywriting and other skills that I picked up after learning to learn through Ozark, something many of my peers from high-school have yet to learn even after education. That’s not an us-verses-them statement, nor am I insulting their intelligence. I’m simply communicating something Ozark does that few universities accomplish: helping students become the best versions of themselves they were created to be.

      For The Schauberts, following this path has already put us in the black. And then some.

      Again, I’m nuts to talk like this because, as I said above, the money doesn’t matter. What matters is immaterial. Literally and literally.

      Which brings us to your statement about following Jesus. I firmly believe that the thousands of Ozark grads out there (going off hit counts) who shared and agreed with this post in person, on facebook, on twitter, and in the comments here are in agreement because they felt called to Ozark. For them, the call to follow Jesus was in part a call to attend Ozark. For them, the journey on the road to discipleship was inseparable from the journey through an intransitive education.

      And had the case been otherwise, had they merely stumbled onto that campus on a hill at 1111 N. Main, Joplin MO, they would have found a depth there that they may or may not have found in their walk. To say they offer an “intransitive education” is to say they open the mind in a very particular way that accelerates the maturity of those who choose to follow Jesus. One of the guys who lived in the dorm with me, a popular, well-known preacher, scoffed at the idea of accelerated maturity. He thought that we would have matured anyways.

      But I’ve looked at age-for-age, degree-for-degree comparisons and I’m telling you that the 24- and 25- and 26-year-olds (or non-traditional students) who graduate from Ozark possess a maturity that far surpasses the maturity of their peers. It’s more than an intellectual thing, although that’s a piece. It’s a depth of character and depth of wholeness in “every category of their metaphysical being” as Mark Scott would say.

      My other path would not have created this. Indeed, in retrospect, I may have left the faith completely had I not come to Ozark.

      Students of OCC find a depth there that they might never have found. I know I wouldn’t have. I know where my road was headed, and it was (and often is) a selfish road without Ozark speaking into my mind.


    4. Thanks for the comment John. I’m just getting back to work, so I don’t have enough time to respond to this in full at the moment. Know that I’ll respond in full soon. Also know that I really appreciate your thoughts, your heart, and the presence of something other than a monochromatic response on this post. Yours may generate some dialog on here, so thank you on several counts.

      One quick note. Had I gone to an out-of-Illinois State University (which I would have picked over a community college), I believe the costs would still outweigh that of a private college. For instance coming from Illinois to Missouri, degree-for-degree, a BA in “Theology” or “Intercultural Studies” at Ozark Christian College runs you roughly

      • $14,800 per year.
      • $36,180 per year, on the other hand,

      would land you a comparable degree in “Religious Studies” or “Intercultural Studies” from Missouri State in Columbia. My good friend graduated from U of I in music and then pursued an advanced degree. His ROI on the $100k of debt will be insubstantial at best, a negative return at worst. This is a not a problem unique to Ozark, but — as you wisely pointed out — hits all Bible Colleges in general, and universities at large in the United States. The problem stems primarily from current legislation concerning tuition prices and the deregulation of the finance industry. I maintain that in the current academic climate, the questions we Bible College alumni should be asking are the following:

      1. As a student, am I truly called to vocational ministry? If not, could I content myself to a shorter stint at a Bible College?
      2. As a parent, can I proactively involve myself in my child’s education early by educating myself through free courses available online and so supplement their education (whatever it looks like) with healthly doses of Bible College thought from an early age? And can I consider becoming a financial supporter of our colleges as well?
      3. As a supporter of Bible Colleges, what can I do to innovate new ways to reduce costs? Can we create full-ride options for students? Grants? Memorial funds? Can we donate more to the general mission of the school?
      4. As a member of Christ’s body, can I help create new modes of discipleship and christian education by studying the ways in which the Church has educated her people in the past? What can we learn from monasteries, catechism, the Trivium, and the origins of Sunday School as a method of teaching literacy? Can we create something new so as to steer around the involvement of the state in the affairs of the Church’s education?
      5. As a Christian reformer in culture with relational connections to those in power, can I talk with those governing powers God has put over the constituency to which I’ve been assigned to help them rationally see the problems with rising tuition and deregulated loans? I’m not talking about voting, protesting, or bumper stickers here. I’m talking about a phone call or a conversation with whoever happens to be a representative in your area. Paul didn’t vote or protest, he just talked with Felix and Festus (the current governing powers) as he carried out his mission. Could conversations help us more than political involvement in the American system? I think so, if you look at the history of the Church’s influence on the world. We have always accomplished more by influencing those who happen to be in power than we have by attempting to start revolutions and involve ourselves in political coups. Historically, we’ve neutered our power when we sank to the level of a ruling statehood compared to when we transcended to the level of a serving Church.
      6. As an educator, whether faculty or staff, can I involve myself in the innovative track of open courseware and create ways to accept credits from free or near-free online classes that students can take prior to highschool graduation? Can I make a way for them to have a literal headstart on their completed credits and so reduce their tuition load?

      There are other questions to ask, but I think these address the issue more head-on. Hopefully more to come…

    1. I can agree that as a student, parent, supporter and as a Christian we should be concerned with making Bible College accessible and affordable. I whole-heartily agree. But this isn’t the point. Sure, from your comments above, I agree again. There is much a would-be-student could do to plan ahead for their educational costs. However, many student like myself did not have available to them the scholarships and church support to attend Bible College. Honest to goodness…I heard about David and Goliath, but not until I heard the story in Woody Wilkinson’s class did I know it was in the Bible! I was called to full-time ministry, I do love what I GET to do for God’s kingdom. I do believe that Ozark produces maturity in it’s students that far exceeds their peers (humbly speaking). It seems to me that you agree with me that Bible Colleges (education in general) are way out of line in their tuition costs when compared to earning potential. I am looking at it this further and saying, “if tuition costs are far exceeding earning potential, how can education be worth it? it practically and logically does not add up”. The simple math proves that education (at least in this economy) is not worth it. I can agree that Ozark and other Bible college educations teach much more than academics. They teach a way of life that not only blesses their life but also the lives of others. I suppose an honest question for myself would be…”had I known the financial cost of earning a Bible education so that I could enter into the ministry of chaplaincy, a ministry I feel called to would I have still gone to Ozark?” … the answer to the question would have to be, “Yes”. Even if I have to be indebt most of my adult life. It’s a catch 22 at best.

  18. $325.00 – Ozark Christian College Tuition (in-state or out of state)
    $173.20 – Missouri Southern Undergrad Tuition (In-State)
    $346.40 – Missouri Southern Tuition Undergrad (Out of state)

    Unless you are an out of state student your tuition at Southern is far greater than Ozark. This is my point using the facts about ROI. Not sure why it bothers me so much when I hear people using the blessings of ministry as ROI for Ozark. Yes, the survey has some real flaws in it, but it still points to simple math. It also shows that a Bible college vs. a State University, the State College is able to provide an undergraduate degree at far less tuition which translates to a better ROI. This is a problem unique to Bible Colleges. The reason I says this is because Bible College train men and women for ministry and ministry in any vocation (with the exception of very few) will not generate an earning potential substantial enough to meet the demands of paying off the loan, especially at a Tuition rate that exceeds most State Universities. To me this is not rocket science. Does this make me an ungrateful student? a bitter person? or am just trying to look at this from a practical stand point ? People will judge me the way they wish, but, 2+2 will always equal 4.

    1. Then you should’ve gone to a state school. Or a Christian liberal arts university like Biola, Liberty, Wheaton, etc

      It’s not Ozark’s fault that you decided to go there. Seems to me that for many of us it was worth it, and if someone thought it wasn’t–that’s on you because it was your choice.

      Also, it wasn’t Ozark’s choice for anyone to take out loans. Students and parents make that choice. Solution: take longer to get your degree and pay as you go if you don’t wanna do loans. Many are doing it

    2. Caleb, You have replied to my post on two occasions. Both times you have answered me without reading my reply in it’s context (something we learn at Ozark). I am not blaming Ozark. I am stating the facts of tuition vs. earning potential and the facts about tuition at a Bible College vs. a State School. Then, drawing the conclusions using simple math that tuition costs are now 50% + than most student’s earning potential. I am not casting blame on anyone or saying Ozark was a mistake for me. As Christians we need to learn to look at things for what they are even when the name “Christian” is attached to it. Just because Ozark is a Christian college doesn’t mean you are obligated to pay such high tuition without question. They way many people sound when defending the ROI of Ozark “Just shut up and pay it! its a Christian college for gosh sake!”. So, how high of tuition would it take for you (Caleb) to begin to question if its worth it or not?

  19. We met at Ozark Bible College (now Ozark Christian College) our freshman year in 1967. We are still married after 45 years. Having raised 3 daughters who married and have given us 6 grandchildren and one great-grandchild expected next year we exclaim, “Worth it!” After a full life of 4 decades pastoring and public school teaching, we know that the strong foundation for a life of selfless service had it’s foundation at OCC. With the Summer 2013 edition of OCC’s “Compass” magazine, no doubt many more students are taking issue with Business Insiders article. BTW, we had never heard of BI and don’t believe they have much credibility when it comes to their taking such and apparently ill-informed position on the value of college education. For us, and thousands of other OCC students, our education their was not just “worth it” but beyond worth!

  20. $325.00 – Ozark Christian College Tuition (in-state or out of state)
    $173.20 – Missouri Southern Undergrad Tuition (In-State)

    I would like someone to atleast comment on the facts. Please understand it is not appropriate to claim the blessings of ministry to indicate a Bible College education is worth it. I would hope that you follow Jesus becuase you love Him and want to honor His Father through service and personal devotion. These things are the result of a relationship with Christ not the result of having gone to a Bible College. Many have claimed that OCC is/was foundational to their willingness to serve Christ… This is sad and makes the claim that anyone who does not go to a Bible College cannot serve Christ as well as those who have gone to Bible College. Are you beginning to see the craziness yet? …

    Now back to the issue and I promise to let this conversation die. I have given the tuition facts of both a State College and Bible College from the same city. Facts are the facts and given these facts I would like to know how anyone can justify that an undergraduate degree from a Bible College can in any possible way be a better investment than a State College? Keep in mind the earning potential of a Bible Degree compared with an Undergraduate Degree from A State College. A Bible Degree will be suited for ministry positions ONLY and a Degree from a State College can be in any number of areas. I understand that students from Bible College may go into other fields (But, not without further education outside of the Bible College). No..I am not against OCC or any Bible College education. I just want people to look at the facts without giving a Bible College the credit that only Christ deserves.

    1. I’m not irritated at all with the conversation, in fact I’m enjoying it. No one’s been mean, so I see no reason to let this talk die.

      I would tell you, though, that this post was a complete and utter fluke. There really aren’t that many people reading any more short of you me and this Caleb guy. People from Ozark, in general, don’t read my blog. I have a larger readership from book readers living in big cities thank from my alma mater. I tell you that so you know that it might only be me and you continuing this conversation.

      Something I enjoy, by the way, but might have to take time between responses due to my schedule.

      There’s a significant difference between what you’re addressing and my main point. An “intransitive education” is a phrase used often by advocates of Trivium education — education beginning with logic, rhetoric, and grammar and ending with things like math. This is what I’m pointing out. I’m not pointing first and foremost to the benefits of ministry and of following Jesus as the number one reason to justify the cost. My main argument is this:

      Ozark, unlike other colleges, teaches you to teach yourself. Other colleges judge their ROI based on performance in the transitive tasks learned at the college. Since Ozark seldom teaches tasks, the ROI would come from the an effect intransitive education has on learning any given task. I, having learned logic, rhetoric, and grammar, at Ozark Christian College find the ability to think for myself, speak for myself, write for myself far more valuable than learning a specific trade for the ability to learn trades is greater than any given trade.

      In specific, I learned finance from people I know in the finance industry — something I may not have done had I continued with the “high school part 2” approach found at many undergrad universities. I learned finance because I loved to learn, not because I was getting a finance degree.

      That’s “Intransitive.” Transitive verbs have an object: I balance check book. I drive truck. I build my business.

      Intransitive verbs affect the subject: I bloomed. I thrive. I mature.

      The latter happens at Ozark, but seldom at other schools. That has less to do with my walk as a Christian or with my ministry and more to do with Ozark’s heavy focus on the way you think, the way you talk, the way you write.


    2. I would fundamentally disagree with you. I do believe a State College teaches it’s student how to think for themselves, write for themselves and teach themselves. This is what education does on any level. This is not primarily a Bible College attribute. I might even argue that it happens better at a State College….why? Think about the college’s purpose. At Ozark (and I agree with their mission) they are focused on training up leaders for ministry and thus, how to think ministry, write ministry, teach ministry in the name of Christ. Ozark is heavily focused on ministry which it should be. At a State College the students would be more apt to study more broadly in any given area. This is why Ozark has a BA Theology and A State College may offer BA in World Religious Studies.

    1. Not to teach you what to think, but to teach you how to think. I like this and believe this is and should be the direction of any education. Does this new “educational approach” give license to demand a tuition cost for a degree that will be overwhelmed by it’s potential earnings? Not trying to be hard nosed about this issue – but this doesn’t aswer the statment made about OCC’s ROI? – I just hope students will be able to “think for themselves” before it’s too late and end up to their ears in debt and find that thier “calling” is placed on hold because the the debt collector is calling on the other line. Even if you plan for your education, the tuition for any Bible college is nearing 3 times the tuition at local state colleges.

  21. Not to teach you what to think, but to teach you how to think. I like this and believe this is and should be the direction of any education. Does this new “educational approach” give license to demand a tuition cost for a degree that will be overwhelmed by it’s potential earnings? Not trying to be hard nosed about this issue – but this doesn’t aswer the statment made about OCC’s ROI? – I just hope students will be able to “think for themselves” before it’s too late and end up to their ears in debt and find that thier “calling” is placed on hold because the the debt collector is calling on the other line. Even if you plan for your education, the tuition for any Bible college is nearing 3 times the tuition at local state colleges.

    1. Thanks.

      Again, no it doesn’t. But the problem is a systemic problem weighted by the influence of administrations over that of faculty. To bring the chaos back to order, ALL American schools must stop running themselves like businesses and start running themselves like… well…


      Monasteries. Catechestical societies. Scriptoriums. The lecture halls of Athens.

      Again, and this is the point you’ve yet to address short of with alternate articles: is this an Ozark issue or an American issue. I believe I have argued that the questions we must ask are not unique to Ozark and that, in the terrible education climate — and it is a terrible, awful education climate — if there’s any school worth going to, that school would be an institution committed to giving a holistically intransitive education. Not trivial, but trivium. This kind of thing.

      I do agree with this statement about debt — in fact I’m encouraging my sister not to go to college unless it makes business sense, which right now I’ve yet to see an institution in which this is the case.

      My argument is not in favor of going into debt.

      My argument is assuming this:

      If the American college experience has any value left in it whatsoever, then that value starts at places like Ozark Christian College.

      Of course, I have no debt left from US Bank which profited off of my stay there, so it’s kind of something for another person currently in-debt should process through.

    2. I agree Lance.Wholeheartedly in fact. The reason I am “singling out” Ozark and Bible college in particuliar is becuase Bibles colleges are doing much worse than State colleges. In a previous post I compared Tuition costs of MSSU and Ozark. This comparison can be made in any State. My argument is based on the factual math – regardless of the “kind of education” that is offered the education must be able to afford the student a livable wage considering that 90% of students must pay off atleast some of their student loan once out of college. Also consider that most of that 90% holds atleast 60% of their total loan as debt. My point also being…a Bible college graduate, unlike a State school graduate, will have limited opportunities with limited earning potential while holding a debt on average 2x that of a State college (see tution comparison above). It isn’t that I am picking on Ozark, it is the nature of it all.

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