August 23, 2019
Thales College: A New Kind of College

“Mr. Herring - did you hear about the rock wall?”

“No - what rock wall? And what about it?”

“XYZ University just built a rock wall next to the student center! And it’s close to the lazy river. I know where I’m going to college!”


This paraphrased conversation is based on a real discussion I had with a student two years ago. The student had just returned from visiting a nearby university, and he came to Senior Seminar ready to tell me all about it. I expected to hear something about the professors, the degrees, the class sizes, or even the cafeteria food; I would have been excited for commentary on a protest, or even the architecture. I was not expecting “the rock wall” to be the highlight of his two day campus visit.


This conversation was not unique. Each year, my students visit colleges; unfortunately, they focus on the wrong aspects. Flash and dash impresses them; shiny new buildings are all the rage. It’s even better if they visit on a game day! Students return convinced that they have to go to the school with the new tennis courts and the massive gym complex. In being impressed by such things, they miss the point of collegiate education.


Colleges gamble on students being an easy sell. It is not hard to sell a vision of college as entertainment. “Come join our party! Have a good time - life is always like a football game!” And the method works: When colleges build new dorms and shiny new classroom buildings, applications rise.


I can hear the question now - what’s wrong with all of those things? Two problems exist with the status quo (the way things currently are), and they are why Thales College emphasizes academic study over superfluous non-essentials.

Problem 1: Distraction

The purpose of college lies in studying worthwhile subjects for the acquisition of skill, virtue, wisdom, and knowledge. College is not about sports, nor is it about a rock wall. Both of those things can be good when in their proper places, but when they move from the periphery to the center, a cost is involved. When the student thinks the point of college is to party (like in Animal House or Revenge of the Nerds), or attend every game, then he misses the purpose of a period of years to delve deep into knowledge. Philosopher Michael Oakeshott describes the undergraduate years as a “the gift of an interval,” the space before life becomes crowded with the responsibilities of a career, a family, or a home. This interval exists not to be filled with ephemeral things, but rather is the space within which students learn what is worth spending a lifetime becoming.


As mainstream colleges have grown in size, they have begun a sort of competition for students. In that competition, the question is not “How do we get the best students to study here?” but rather has become “How do we convince students that college is fun, and that our college will be the most fun?” Fun has its place, but that place is on the periphery; the fun of college is a byproduct of reaching the purpose of collegiate education. When fun becomes the purpose, it displaces the goals which should rightly be at the center.

Problem 2: Cost

The rock wall, the lazy river, the sports stadium, all of the extraneous things that accumulate on the calendar of the college—all of these contribute to raising the cost of tuition. Duke University just published their tuition for 2019-2020; add in room and board, and the incoming freshmen are paying just over $73,000 per year for at least 4 years! All of these costly amenities contribute to the ongoing problem of excessive tuition prices.


Thales College exists as a response to the status quo. TC will not astonish prospective students with the latest dorms, stadiums, or rock walls. Thales College has a different set of impressive features. We offer world class liberal arts and sciences education, unparalleled internship access, and a price point no other private liberal arts college can approach. We do this by following our vision: “knowledge” and “wisdom” are our goals, and Thales College believes that collegiate education can be accessible to all. We streamline our processes to make that vision possible.


If you want a snazzy dorm with smart appliances for your college experience, many schools offer that life. If your college hopes ride on a school mascot and D-1 status, wonderful. But that’s not Thales College. We are looking for a different kind of student. If you are serious about study; if you want to be done with undergrad in three years; if you’re self-motivated; if you want to go into business or a trade (but also want a college degree); if you want all of the above without debt, check us out. We just might be the school for you.

Previous Posts

When Learning Goes Deeper: The Tutorial Method
Josh Herring, Humanities Instructor
The Choice is Yours
Josh Herring, Humanities Instructor