Below, we address some frequently asked questions that people often have when considering Augustine College.
No. You only need to be committed, open-minded, eager to learn, willing to work hard, and able to write near freshmen college-level (unless you have a qualifying learning disability).
We are not accredited, nor are we currently seeking accreditation, largely because we want to remain independent and not be subject to academic demands incompatible with the traditional model of higher learning that we are bringing back. We are modeling ourselves after Augustine College in Ottawa, Canada, which is also unaccredited. However, proof of the quality of their program may be seen in the credit it is accorded at other colleges and universities and by the esteem in which their students are held at those schools. We certainly intend to match that level of quality and create an equally positive response to our graduates.
Instead of accreditation, we are seeking to create transfer agreements with colleges and universities.
Transfer agreements are made when another institution accepts coursework performed at ACUS and uses it for credits toward their own degree program. Augustine College in Ottawa has transfer agreements with many institutions, including the following:
- Dominican University College — Ottawa, Ontario
- Redeemer University College — Ancaster, Ontario
- Saint Paul University — Ottawa, Ontario
- Francis Xavier University — Antigonish, Nova Scotia*
- Stephen’s University — St. Stephen, New Brunswick
- Trinity Western University — Langley, BC*
IN THE UNITED STATES
- Baylor University — Waco, Texas
- Calvin College — Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Hope College — Holland, Michigan*
- Houghton College — Houghton, New York
- University of Chicago — Chicago, Illinois
- Wheaton College — Wheaton, Illinois
* Schools granting Augustine College graduates credits equivalent to more than a year
We believe ACUS will also be able to achieve transfer agreements for three reasons: (1) all of our faculty have graduate degrees and are qualified to teach at the college level, and most have experience doing so; (2) our courses are as comprehensive and rigorous as those at other institutions; and (3) we expect that the quality of our students’ work will speak for itself. Our small class size enables us to work personally with each student headed for another college or university to establish what credits the institution will accept.
“Liberal arts” does seem like a strange term with limited applicability. After all, “liberal” means “the opposite of conservative,” among other meanings, and “arts” tends to make us think of painting and sculpture. The reason the term “liberal arts” is found in higher education is because it was present at the beginning of Western thinking about education. “Liberal” descends from the Latin word “liber,” which means “free.” “Arts” descends from the Latin “artis,” which means knowing combined with practice; action joined with reason—that is to say, a skill. This usage is still with us today in phrases like “the art of negotiation,” or “the art of translation.”
Thus, “liberal arts” is the traditional term for the knowledge and skills suited to those who had liberty as opposed to those who were servants or slaves. Servants and slaves were not taught the liberal arts but only how to do their jobs. (It is ironic that today many people want nothing more from their college experience than job skills.)
The liberal arts are not meant to be a sufficient education in and of themselves, but the foundation for education that every free person ought to have, so that they can be lifelong learners, as well.
We agree with Robert M. Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago during World War II and founder of the series Great Books of the Western World, that “The tradition of the West in education is the tradition of the liberal arts. Until very recently nobody took seriously the suggestion that there could be any other ideal.”
Other ideals currently include that of helping each student fit into a rapidly changing, highly technical society, and allowing students the freedom to pick from a wide variety of electives according to their interests. As Dr. Edward Tingley (dean of Augustine College, Ottawa) has said that Augustine College has brought back the original Christian college model once dominant in North America. That model of college included the above and was generated by a Biblical concern: renewal of the mind, or reversing the mind’s fallenness.
The first European colleges “baptized,” we might say, the classical concept of a liberal arts education. On this model, the college offered a specialized instruction: liberal arts studies focused on mankind’s true purpose. Beginning with Harvard College in 1636, all the dozens of colleges founded in North America until 1880 were created by a Christian denomination or church, either Protestant or Catholic, for the purpose of training of clergy and discipleship of lay people. They described their mission as educating youth for “learning and virtue” and “forming the rising generation to virtue…and thus preserving in the community a succession of men duly qualified for discharging the offices of life.”
It’s clear these colleges were not about job training nor about merely acquiring “head knowledge” as we usually think of what education is doing. This type of liberal arts education was intended to equip students to be the type of person beneficial to their community, no matter what job or role they later took on.
Throughout your life you will have many “offices” or roles, such as parent, teacher, citizen, voter, friend. “If you know what you are doing,” says Dr. Tingley, “if you know what acts are virtuous and just, then there will be life and health in your community in you. That is because everyone in society is visible to others and is leading others by their example.”
We seek to present the most important, core knowledge to carry out the mission described above: to form women and men of Christian character and prepare them for benefiting others in all areas of life. To that end of formation, our brief program seeks to provide the most essential wisdom and knowledge. This includes not only knowledge of God’s plan of salvation and its outworking in society, but also the features and faults of the West’s loss of Christian faith, in order to prepare students for the contemporary world. An explanation of how each course aims for these goals can be found in our “Description of Our One- and Two-Year Programs.” After such an education, it is typical that students at that age will begin the specialized learning toward a career.
Certainly! ACUS does not adhere to any political party or theory of politics. In addition, as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt institution organized solely for religious and educational purposes, we are prohibited by law from supporting any political party, organization, or candidate. Our curriculum and educational philosophy are not a product of, or tied to, any political theory or stance.
Tuition is $8500 for each year, which is markedly lower than that of similar programs at private colleges. For example, tuition at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, a traditional Great Books four-year program, is $35K per year. At Thomas More College in New Hampshire, a Roman Catholic Great Books residential school, the tuition alone is $21K per year.
In addition, we offer five St. Monica scholarships for $2000 each for the first five applicants.
Classes will take place at St. Philip’s Anglican Church and at the River’s Edge, a two-room facility rented by The River Church. St. Philip’s is located one block from Main Street and downtown Blacksburg. The River is also located in downtown Blacksburg, close to the edge of the Virginia Tech campus.
No, but we are theologically conservative. We believe in the Divine verbal inspiration of Scripture. Most faculty and staff are evangelical Protestants, but we welcome those of Orthodox and Roman Catholic faith traditions, and all faculty must subscribe to either the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed. Because ACUS wants to teach students to think and reason using their faith, the faculty will not attempt to persuade students with the traditions and convictions of any particular denomination. Regarding secondary or controversial doctrines, we want students to learn to reason Biblically and theologically to arrive at their conclusions.
Housing costs are not covered by the College. However, housing of many types near ACUS is easy to come by because we are located in the same town as Virginia Tech, which has more than 30,000 students.
More importantly, our aim is for our students to live communally in two separate buildings, one for men and one for women. We believe this arrangement builds Christian fellowship, helps students learn, and encourages lasting friendships, as it has for 22 years in Augustine College, Ottawa. However, that situation depends on the number of students enrolled and how many students are local and choose to commute from their parents’ home.
One of our local board members is a successful realtor with many years of experience. When you are ready, let us know what features you want in an apartment or house, and he will create a list of potential apartments or houses that match.
Regarding meals, students are on the their own. However, we will have a weekly communal meal with the entire student body, as well as a number of faculty and staff. Our two classroom spaces, at St. Philip’s Anglican Church and the River’s Edge, are both equipped with kitchen facilities. In addition, Blacksburg is home to dozens of restaurants of all types, many being only one or two blocks from our classrooms.