Tucked into a remote area of California, Deep Springs College is considered by many to be the most exclusive college in America. It’s fine that you’ve never heard of it because it doesn’t have an athletic program, a huge network of alumni or female students. The school has been one of the great mysterious of modern academics but one website was allowed to take a peek inside.
What if I told you there was an elite college as exclusive as Harvard and as remote as the North Pole? That it consistently tops Harvard’s yield rate and evades suspicions of being a cult, that it requires its students to engage in 20 hours of manual labor per week and doesn’t let them leave without express permission?
Well, this is the true story of Deep Springs College, where there are 26 students total at any given time, all of them male. Despite its constant admissions competition and solid interest, the college remains as committed as ever to its exclusivity and small size.
Sounding more like the premise to an M.Night Shyamalan movie than a place of higher learning, Deep Springs is fully run by students — and I’m not talking in the Animal House-type way.
Founded in 1917, Deep Springs College is located in the remote High desert of California, settled on an alfalfa farm and cattle ranch just northwest of Death Valley. The students run the farm themselves, which stays true to the school’s history since it was built upon the tenets of self-governance, manual labor, and rigorous academics and upholds a deep commitment to serving “humanity.”
The entire school is set up as an interconnected web, meant to bolster each student’s connection with his fellow community members as well as the desert landscape itself. The few buildings on campus are arranged in a circle and each has an outward-facing porch, looking out into the vast expanse of land.
The boys often spend their rare moments of free time smoking and in deep discussion with one another out on the porches. Alcohol and drugs are strictly forbidden, but tobacco and cigarettes are allowed. However, smoking is not allowed anywhere near the hale bales, since should a fire break out in the dry underbrush of the California desert, Deep Springs is “45 minutes from the nearest emergency services.” Perhaps not the best place for weekend bonfires.
It’s basically the opposite of every single reason young men go to college. But, obviously, there are men interested in Deep Springs’ way of life and learning. If you are interested, you’re encouraged to apply, because if accepted you’ll be going to school almost for free.
Every student accepted receives a scholarship covering tuition, room, and board, all valued at over $50,000. The only remaining fees amount to less than $2,800 per year for travel, books, and incidentals.
If students do get desperate, and want to give up the life, the closest piece of the real world is a brothel named the Cottontail Ranch. This begs the question of “which came first — the brothel or the brotherhood?”
For even more about Deep Springs, check out the full story and pics here.