The Ashbrook Scholar program contests the current wisdom about how to build strong undergraduate programs. Instead of emphasizing training in cutting-edge workplace skills, it offers an older ideal: a thorough grounding in the great texts of our civilization. Rather than importing new-age technology to make the past seem interesting to a generation that grew up with the ever-shifting, instantly gratifying visual stimuli of our current digital world, it teaches the ancient and laborious art of closely reading each text. Instead of scaling back standards so as not to intimidate ill-prepared students, it sets very high standards.
The program sets out to do what many educators believe can no longer be done in any but a few elite settings: to inculcate a love of books and the great questions about human life they contain. Judging by grade-point averages alone, the program succeeds. Ashbrook Scholars consistently rank among the highest achieving Ashland University students. But when one applies less sterile measures, such as the testimonials offered by current students and alumni of the program, one again takes notice. Students call the program life-changing.
Students who enter the Ashbrook Scholar program are already academically accomplished, and during their rigorous course of studies at Ashland University, they maintain this level of achievement:
- Among Ashbrook Scholars, the average GPA of incoming freshmen during the past five years has been 3.7.
- During their time at the University, Ashbrook Scholars are required to maintain a GPA above 3.0. In the past several years, Ashbrook Scholar classes as a whole have graduated with an average GPA of 3.6.
Ashbrook Scholars participate in a selective program operating within a larger university. The program has discretion to design only a portion of the academic program in which the students are enrolled. At present funding levels, it offers only a fraction of the financial support many of the students require to fund their education. So how does the program achieve so much? Over the coming weeks, as the newest class of Ashbrook Scholars arrive on campus, we will share how scholars are recruited to the program and mentored upon arrival.