I still remember that day in the fall of my junior year when I realized that college was actually approaching, and I had to make my own decision about a major step in my life. I felt unable to choose from all the options; being the introvert that I am I planned to be cautious by choosing a small Bible college close to home. It had nothing unique to what I was interested in, didn’t offer my chosen major, and was really just a cop-out because I wanted to attend college. However, my entire perspective on what college could be for me was changed when I attended a college fair and found out about Patrick Henry College.
Getting into a college like PHC
PHC is small (less than 300 students), classical, and (in my opinion) one of the few Christian colleges in the United States that still follows true Biblical doctrine. After finding my dream school back in 2016, the next step was the application process. I submitted the required materials and then spent two and a half hours on the phone with my admissions counselor discussing my spiritual life, high school classes, community involvement, life goals, and biggest failures. Next, my counselor committed to push for my acceptance. The day I was accepted is one of my favorites even now.
What do classical colleges look for?
When I visited the school, I learned from current students and my admissions counselor that PHC was looking for a specific type of person—not necessarily the person with the best SAT score or the longest list of AP classes. This was what I heard when I visited Grove City College in Pennsylvania as well. Private classical liberal arts schools often prioritize phone interviews over submitted work.
Patrick Henry was interested in the fact that I worked at Chick-fil-A, taught a kindergarten class at my church, and had a passion for classical education. They appreciated that I played the violin and participated in a couple mock trials. I realized that the team at PHC focused on the character of the students they accepted more than the standardized test scores they received. This became a new draw for me to attend the school because I knew that they valued full people, not just numbers.
Did my education equip me for life at PHC?
As a second-semester college freshman, I can’t say that I always fully appreciated my classical homeschooling journey back in high school. The hours I spent wrestling with Latin homework, digesting classic literature, and discussing philosophy were taken for granted when they passed by, but they are definitely paying off now. Instead of drowning in my first semester of college Latin, I was able to enjoy it most days.
Attending a classical academy one day each week equipped me to be comfortable with participating in class discussions at PHC. Reading many of the Great Books back in high school gave me a chance to get a deeper understanding in my second read here at PHC. My freshman year has still been the hardest venture I’ve ever attempted, but I can’t imagine going into it without the high school experience I had.
If I could send one message to high schoolers and their parents at this point, I think it’d be the cliché saying repeated to students all the time: fight the good fight. What you are doing now may seem mundane and insignificant. It may feel like you’re peddling only to come around a bend to more of the same.
However, one day you’ll sit down to reflect and realize that in those seasons of hustling to and from activities and squeezing schoolwork in between it all you were doing good, true, and beautiful work to further your earthly walk and, more importantly, to further the kingdom.hustling to and from activities and squeezing schoolwork in between it all you were doing good, true, and beautiful work to further your earthly walk and, more importantly, to further the kingdom.
Olivia, or Livvy, Dennison is an 18-year-old freshman at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. A native of Mt. Hope, WV, she plans to major in History with a minor in Classics. When not working on school, Livvy loves reading, playing basketball, and living life with her two younger brothers and her dog, Amos. Livvy was always homeschooled by her mom and, for her last two years of high school, attended Appalachian Classical Academy, a Christian homeschool tutoring program that meets one day each week.