Friday, September 2, 2011

Hard Work U (Branson, MO)

Keeter Center
in the floor

Here’s an interesting concept: what if a student did not have to pay tuition for a college education? Instead of paying tuition, how about the student works for the college?  Odd concept?  But it does work at the College of the Ozarks (Cofo) near Branson, MO, also known as the Hard Work U.

From CofO’s mission statement:  The mission of this unique institution focuses on providing a Christian education to those who are found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to obtain such training.

The college is small (less than 2000 students), but it offers their students a wide variety of academic classes from Accounting to Unified Science – chemistry endorsement.  According to HubPages, there are only 9 tuition-free colleges/universities, but the majority are geared towards a specific education like music or engineering.
Inside Keeter Center
CofO also encourages outside visitors.  After reading great reviews from TripAdvisor, we decided to visit and eat lunch.  There are no charges for visiting the campus.  The Keeter Center is a lodge with decorative rooms to rent, a dining room, and a conference center.  The lodge’s design reflects a Maine Lodge that was on display in the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  The rustic place is HUGE with massive logs, polished wood floors, and high ceilings.  The dining room’s ceiling had decorative copper tiles and all the furniture has a  handmade look.  French doors open onto a back balcony overlooking the campus.

 For luch we ordered the smoked Tomato soup, Pork Quesadillas, and grilled Reuben sandwich.  The food was tasty and reasonably priced.  They also have a bakery with a delicious looking display as you enter the dining room.

The campus was so peaceful with most students walking to classes and cows lying quietly in the fields. Yep, you read right – cows. 
View from the Keeter Center's back patio

They have a functioning farm on campus along with a working mill, and a fruit cake kitchen (you can watch them make fruitcake).  We did not visit all areas of campus, just a few, but we were very impressed with the campus and the students.

There are more photos in our album Hard Work U

Edwards Mill


  1. What a beautiful campus! And an interesting concept for their students' tuition!

  2. Hi SibStudio! I wish there were more colleges like this one.

  3. This is so cool! I still pay out the wazoo every darn month for my college education!

  4. Hi Kristal, It's a shame the loans students need to get an education today. The brochure mentioned that about students leaving debt free.

  5. What a great idea and the campus looks beautiful! In my country there's still free most of the colledge education, so I am kindda lucky.

  6. It looks like a beautiful place... and a great concept. When you work for your education you are more likely to appreciate it.

  7. Hello Ioana, Thanks for following. That's great that your country provides a college education.

    Our college educations have become so expensive that a graduate usually has several loans and is in debt for at least 10 years if not more during their working life.

  8. Hi Julie, I agree! This campus felt so different and the students had a very mature attitude. The Junior that served us our lunch was very professional.

  9. Beautiful campus with a great purpose.

  10. I agree what a serene and beautiful educational facility!

  11. Hi Tisha, It is. I really wish more of our colleges followed this policy.

  12. Hi Bellina, Some people stay at the lodge just for those reasons.


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