College of the Ozarks Unveils Mandatory Patriotism Class

Aerial photo of campus by KTrimble/Wikipedia

College of the Ozarks in Missouri recently announced that it will now require incoming freshman students to take a course that encourages “an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and willingness to defend it.”

The class is called “Patriotic Education and Fitness.” This course will educate students on modern military customs, U.S. politics, and flag protocol. It will also teach skills such as rifle marksmanship, map reading, land navigation and rope knotting.

College President Jerry Davis acknowledged that it’s unusual for a non-military institution to require a course that blends patriotic education, physical education, and first-year academic curriculum for Army ROTC. But he believes “understanding the military now is more important than ever because we have 99 per cent of the population being defended by one per cent, who are in uniform.”

“Patriotic education is not inherited: It must be taught, it must be modeled, and it must be emphasized,” said Davis. “If we don’t pay attention to this type of education there is a danger that within a few generations, we’ll have a population that doesn’t understand the privilege of living in this country [and] all that has been provided for us.”

Davis also says that the military science course is “a balance against a pervasive negative view of America. I don’t think it’s a partisan issue. It’s an American issue, how we feel about our country.” The college president said he’s concerned that too few leaders respect the military and the role it plays in preserving America’s way of life.

“I want them to have an appreciation for the country in which we live. They should understand how it works, and they should understand more about the military and how it operates,” Jerry Davis told Inside Higher Education. “If you’re going to be a good citizen, we can’t think of a better way to prepare you than to take a class like this.”

The college is correct in their assessment that we “should be more intentional about patriotic education … from kindergarten all the way through college.” It’s sad that some native-born Americans don’t realize how lucky they are, or have the same respect for their country as naturalized citizens do.

The required class also builds camaraderie among students, according to Talan Saylor, a freshman at the college. “We all go through kind of the same thing, so going through a patriotic class where we are learning about our country and fostering a love for that country together is really special,” he told the Springfield News-Leader.

All colleges, both public and private, have certain mandatory classes. This college is also teaching respect – respect for the country, for the flag, and the principles that made America great. As the college president said: “It’s the United States of America, not the diversified states of America.”

About College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks (C of O) is a private Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. This unique institution is committed to a five-fold mission of encouraging academic, Christian, cultural, vocational, and patriotic growth in its students. C of O also emphasizes character education and offers the opportunity to learn a great work ethic through a mandatory word-study program.

Thus, a course like “Patriotic Education and Fitness” is less unusual for this campus than it would be for others. Students at College of the Ozarks are used to learning practical skills as part of their college experience. The college also has a Patriotic Education Travel Program for students.

When you accept an offer of admission to College of the Ozarks, you make a commitment to uphold the standards of an institution that is different from the norm. In addition to the required patriotism class, C of O has strict chapel requirements and dress codes. It is not a school where drinking and partying are acceptable.

The Wall Street Journal described College of the Ozarks as “one of the most unusual little liberal arts colleges in the country.” C of O is ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, one of Princeton Review’s Best Colleges, and is listed on the Templeton Honor Roll as a “Character Building College.” C of O was also Number 4 on the Princeton Review‘s list of Top 10 Stone-Cold Sober schools.


C of O is unique among higher education institutions in America. One of the top liberal arts colleges in the Midwest, this highly rated school gives students a disciplined, well-rounded education. The college has a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 16:1.

The college offers degrees in Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, with over 30 academic majors: Agriculture, Art, Biblical and Theological Studies, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Communication Arts, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Education, Engineering, English, Family Studies and Social Services, Fire Science, Foreign Language, Graphic Arts, History, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Mathematics/Physics, Military Science, Music, Nursing, Nutrition and Dietetics, Physical Education and Recreation, Psychology, and Theatre.

C of O also has Pre-Professional programs in Pre-Law, Medical Technology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Physician’s Assistant, and Veterinary.


The College of the Ozarks teams are known as the Bobcats. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes as an independent. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, and cross-country;  women’s sports include basketball, volleyball, and cross-country.

The college announced this fall that its athletic teams are required to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and they will not compete against other teams whose players don’t stand for the national anthem.

This move comes amid a controversial trend of some U.S. athletes protesting racial injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem in a movement started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

“We want to make it clear that we are not going to participate in a game where we think disrespect for the national anthem or the flag is being displayed,” President Davis said.


College of the Ozarks has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,442, with a gender distribution of 47 percent male students and 53 percent female students. Despite all of its strict requirements, C of O is a popular college that is sought after by nearly everyone in the Midwest.

The school caters to students who are found worthy but who have financial need. But the interview process is lengthy and the acceptance rate is low. Only about 14% of applicants are admitted. Admission is typically granted to those students who do the best job of selling themselves to the college (financial reasons, patriotism, or whatever).

Students should be in the top half of their graduating class and have at least a 19 on the ACT or a 910 on the SAT. Ninety percent of each entering class must demonstrate financial need. The college is also known to have accepted homeschooled applicants.

Hard Work U

A work college since its inception in 1906, College of the Ozarks requires you to “work” for your education. That’s why this college is nicknamed “Hard Work U.” The C of O Work Education Program provides over 130 unique work stations on campus.

Students are required to work at least 15 hours a week in exchange for free tuition. You can work outside on the farm, milking cows, mowing grass and doing landscaping, overseeing the campus fire station, or you can work inside an office doing paperwork, or work in the library or bookstore, or any number of jobs that are available to students.

Students can also work summers if they want their room and board covered. Students are graded on their work performance in addition to their academics. Where else can you attend college for free and learn practical life lessons on how to work to achieve your goals?

Student-Made Products

C of O students also work to produce some of the most delectable treats around: world-famous fruitcakes, delicious fruit spreads, and student-milled products. Order Christmas gifts online.

Visit the Campus

College of the Ozarks is a great college run by true American patriots, who welcome all visitors to enjoy their beautiful campus.

Take a day trip to see the Vietnam Veterans memorial, 9/11 Memorial, and history museum. The museum also contains a large firearm display. While you’re there, visit the one-room schoolhouse, tractor museum, Edwards Mill, and Hoge orchid greenhouse.

Then stop by the Fruitcake Kitchen where a variety of jellies and delicious apple butter are made, and the College Creamery to enjoy student-made ice cream made with fresh dairy cream.

Point Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ozark hills, Branson 76 highway, and beautiful Lake Taneycomo. Located just a short walk from the Willams Memorial Chapel and Ralph Foster Museum, this is a tranquil and breathtaking must-see. Plan your visit.

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