There's a 30-person college in the California desert where students work off their tuition on a cattle ranch -- and it produces Rhodes Scholars and Pulitzer Prize winners

Deep Springs FacebookDeep Springs College FacebookDeep Springs college, located in the high desert of California.
  • Deep Springs College is a two-year school with only 12 to 15 students per class.
  • Student attend for free, but must work 20 hours a week to pay their way.
  • Students hold jobs on the farm and ranch, and cook, clean, and maintain vehicles.

Deep Springs College is a tiny 30-person-or-less school located in the desert of eastern California.

But the size isn’t the only factor that sets Deep Springs apart. It is currently all male, tuition free, and located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm where students work to pay their way through.

“The desert has a deep personality; it has a voice. Great leaders in all ages have sought the desert and heard its voice,” the school’s founder L.L. Nunn said in 1923.

Men — and in 2018 for first time since its 1917 founding, women — who want to experience college in the high desert of California flock to the college for two years.

Read on below to see what it’s like to attend Deep Springs College.

The college is located on a 155-acre ranch in eastern California, and is the only habitation in the Deep Springs Valley.

The physical isolation and natural beauty of Deep Spring's location are integral parts of the educational program, according to the school's website.

The school was founded in 1917 by L.L. Nunn, and entrepreneur and philanthropist.

It's been an all-male school since it was founded, but in the summer of 2018, Deep Springs plans to admit its first class with women.

Classes are small. Only 12 to 15 students are admitted each year, meaning there are only 24 to 30 students attending the school at any given time.

Deep Springs is a two-year school, and students graduate with an associates degree upon completion. Many go on to transfer their credits toward a four-year college.

Every student attends free of tuition, room, and board, but they must also do at least 20 hours of work each week. They work on the farm and ranch, cook, clean, and maintain vehicles.

First year students take a horsemanship class. They also help with tasks like branding cattle and feeding bulls.

Students who work in the garden rise before the sun to harvest vegetables.

The application process includes several essays, standardised test scores, and a visit to the school.

But Deep Springs even notes that their essay questions are 'unusual' from typical admissions essays. One of the prompts for the class of 2018 was, 'Is there anything you would rather not know? Why or why not?'

An education from Deep Springs sets students on a path toward success. Alumni have gone on to receive MacArthur Grants, Pulitzer Prizes, and Rhodes Scholarships, the school notes.

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