Academic Rigor at PHC: is this school the right fit for me?

Posted by Leo Briceno on 7/7/23 3:00 PM

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Patrick Henry College is built on three key ideas. One is a fidelity to the spirit of the American Founding and another is an unwavering dedication to a Biblical worldview. The third is high academic rigor.

Now, while Webster Dictionary defines rigor as “severity of life” or “austerity,” that's not at all what Patrick Henry College wants for its students. Stress is the last thing professors want their students to take away from the classroom. That being said, PHC is hard. And it’s supposed to be hard.

But just how rigorous is Patrick Henry College and—more importantly—is that level of difficulty something potential students should consider in making their college decision?

The short answer is yes; the education provided at PHC is trying and yes that’s something an incoming student should be prepared for. But, if we’re being honest about it, that’s only half the story.

That level of difficulty and uncompromising standard of excellence grows students and equips them with the ability to perform at the highest levels of the professional world. That’s why in the span of four years, students at PHC go from graduating high school to working at the White House, the Heritage Foundation, Fox News, and the like. 

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The faculty, the administration, and student body believe the ideas in a liberal arts education have the ability to further the potential of any student. Prospective students should realize that the faculty at Patrick Henry College have designed the core to grow their strengths by pushing the limits on their weaknesses.  

Dr. Haynes with Students_classtimeClasses don’t shy away from bringing some of the toughest practical and philosophical questions. It’s not uncommon to watch questions like “what is the good life?” go up on the whiteboard.

That particular question is from Dr. Matthew Roberts’s Philosophy class. It’s part of the core curriculum which all students are eventually required to take. Many core classes pose similar questions.

Learn more about PHC's Philosophy of Education

Freedoms Foundations, a class about political theory, teaches students to consider and evaluate propositions like “man is a political animal,” and such claims as “God is dead, God remains dead, and we have killed him.”

Those are challenging questions, but they merit consideration. In part, the difficulty of the academics at PHC stems from the wide range of rich, nurturing texts and ideas of a classical liberal arts education. The rigor at Patrick Henry College is not just difficult for the sake of difficulty. It’s there to develop good practices in students by addressing some of greatest topics and minds in history.

Students can reach out for help at any moment. The faculty puts its students first, and professors will often spend hours answering questions and meeting with students. Fellow classmates also lend tips, study guides, and flashcards sets. The community at Patrick Henry College wants to see its fellow participants grow.

On the night before the freshmen’s first exam, its tradition for the sophomores to buy them cookies, chips, soda, and other study snacks. The students are always looking out for each other.

Aristotle once famously said that, “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit.”

Patrick Henry College uses rigor as the tool by which it teaches its students to develop the practice of excellence—not just in academics, but in all areas of life.


Learn how PHC stands apart from other Christian liberal arts programs.

The Three Distinctives


  Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


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