There is a community college that is isolated in the middle of a California Valley at which students live on campus but pay almost nothing, and are instead required to work at least 20 hours a week in jobs such as cook, butcher, or “cowboy”
“Deep Springs is a private, alternative college in Deep Springs, California, in the United States. A two-year college, the institution currently aims for a student body size of 26, though the number is occasionally lower. After completing two years at Deep Springs, students may elect to receive an associate’s degree, although this rarely happens in practice. Most continue their studies at other universities, out of which two-thirds go on to earn a graduate degree, and over half eventually earn a doctorate.
Deep Springs is in Deep Springs Valley in Inyo County, California near the larger Owens Valley and about 25 miles (40 km) over mountain passes from the nearest town, Dyer, Nevada, and 45 miles (72 km) from the nearest town of significant size, Bishop, California. The official name of the institution is “”Deep Springs College.”” It was founded under the name “”Deep Springs, Collegiate and Preparatory.””
From its inception in 1917, the college has been all-male, until its board voted, in Fall 2011, that it will begin accepting female students in the summer of 2013. There are currently active legal challenges to the Trustees’ action, disputing their power to circumvent the terms of the Trust, including an injunction preventing the college from accepting female students and delaying coeducation until the 2014-2015 academic year at the earliest.
Organization and philosophy
Deep Springs is founded on three principles, commonly called the “”three pillars””: academics, labor, and self-governance.
Deep Springs, in some respects, resembles a work college. In addition to studies, students work a minimum of 20 hours a week either on the ranch and farm attached to the college or in positions related to the college and community. Position titles have historically included cook, irrigator, butcher, groundskeeper, cowboy, “”office cowboy,”” and feedman. Deep Springs maintains a cattle herd and an alfalfa hay farming operation. Deep Springs Ranch’s brand is an upside-down capital T, known according to traditional branding terminology as the “”Swinging T””.
Students pay only for incidental expenses such as textbooks. Tuition, room, and board are not charged, a point noted as critical by the college’s founder, L. L. Nunn, in his correspondence with the early student bodies. Sometimes the lack of tuition has been said to be a scholarship. According to Nunn, the labor program was not intended as a substitute or exchange for the scholarship or tuition, but rather as a fundamental part of the educational experience.
Self-governance is a critical part of the Deep Springs educational program. Students hold decision-making authority in determinations about admissions, curriculum, and faculty hiring. Every student serves on one of four standing committees during his time as a student: Applications (ApCom), Curriculum (CurCom), Communications (ComCom) or Review and Reinvitations (RCom). The Communications (ComCom) was created In the early 1990s and charged with shaping the policies that define the college’s relations with the world at large. (Physical isolation is a key aspect, philosophically as well as geographically, of life at Deep Springs.)
The college also supports three administrators, eight or nine professors, and a staff of five. Professors may not hold tenure. Three long-term professorships can be held for up to six years, and four short-term slots are filled for one or two terms of seven or fourteen weeks each.”