Harding University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Harding is going to be a good school for basically one type of person: a conservative christian with a desire to simply get a degree, land a job and live out their lives. If your aspirations extend beyond that I would be incredibly wary of this school. Of course, as a caveat to that statement I will say if you're goals are mission-oriented in nature or you want to stick around Arkansas you'll do fine.
Academics: I sort of stumbled my way into the biological sciences program at Harding. Somehow I cruised under the radar with no advisor (actually until after I graduated amusingly) by simply choosing classes that eventually built my degree. I had plans to attend medical school in the future. Having now gone through the medical school process I can see the shortcomings in the program. First, zero research experience at all - that's okay if you want to devote your summers to research or don't care about going to a top medical school. In fact, Harding seems to sort of funnel it's students into about three or four different medical schools - UAMS, UT Memphis, TX schools, or DO schools. So if you have that little desire to shoot higher choose elsewhere please. In general the academics in the biology department are OKAY... but the teachers are more about living in the Searcy atmosphere than creating a challenging program. It's very possible to 'BS' your way through many classes, especially the online ones. I suppose it is somewhat the students prerogative to do that, but I would have liked to see some more independent study to force individual work and understanding. Lack of research in undergrad is a huge oversight in my opinion - as doing research allows you to see the actual applications of what you're doing more than canned labs photocopied from some teaching manual. However, the program overall is a pretty good prep for future studies and will not leave you too much behind the curve overall. The academics in every other class I took outside of sciences was sort of laughable, I never received a single B in any of those classes -- even with minimal effort. I actually got an hour of college credit once for building a sand castle (not joking).
Faith: Well.... let me be up front in saying that my faith was lost while at Harding. I was a very conservative ultra-devoted christian until the age of 20. The forced chapel, bible classes, and basically the perfect-person fa?ade definitely were a root frustration which may have begun my questioning and subsequent 'deconversion'. However, let me say that my reasons for no longer being a believer are purely from an intellectual standpoint. I neither feel angry at God, nor do I feel like he turned his back on me. I simply do not see enough evidence to merit belief in such an entity. The strict conservatism of Harding will either make you feel at home or make you feel insane. So I would say if you are a conservative christian this is a great atmosphere for you. If you find yourself to be a little more liberal than what people might term 'bible-thumping' I would probably try to look into some other schools.
Rules: I find the rules to be incredibly belittling and unnecessary. Most people I know had far more freedom in highschool than they did during their years at Harding. Curfew at midnight, basically you can't hang out with girls anywhere but at a table in a public location, or at sonic. I've seen people get kicked out for having wine with their parents, or having a single beer. Some of those people did not even have the funds to return home - so the students had to raise funds to buy them a plane ticket home. I'm not sure how this meshes with Harding's goals of spreading compassion and mercy to a world of sinners. I think maybe the administration should break out the Strong's Concordance and look up what those terms really entail (admittedly, their could be some nuance to the Greek or Hebrew that I don't quite understand.) Anyways, these rules will eventually lead to a decline in Harding's enrollment i'm sure. Just make sure you read the fine print carefully and realize what you are subjecting yourself to. If you're thinking is in line with Harding's you will do fine.
Social atmosphere: I really did like Harding in terms of its social climate. Of course you will end up in some sort of clique depending which decisions you make early on (social clubs, personality type, what dorm you're in etc..) That is just fine and happens at any school. The only downside is that your options are limited in terms on things to do. Searcy has sort of an endearing ratty/boring quality that you will learn to love. You can't hang out with mixed company in too many locations without breaking rules, but you can live with that for a while. The people really are great and I cherish my friendships from Harding greatly. For me, that is one of the saving grace's of Harding when I look back.I think I have written quite enough. Bottom line: Don't go to this school unless you feel very confident in your alignment with their goals and beliefs. Half of the people coming out of Harding look at it with some sense of disgust, and the other half don't stop raving about it. You will definitely be subjected to some ridiculous rules, get very frustrated at the administration, and very likely break out into a rebellious stage in your later semesters. The academics I would grade as subpar, the social scene okay but constricting. There aren't many weeks when I don't wish I could travel back in time and tell myself to at least make a more informed decision and go to a school with more connections and a bigger name. Every school will tell you that they are a world-renowned academic center, but don't believe them. Find that information out for yourself - you are paying an arm and a leg for an education so please take the time to be an informed consumer. I hope I was somewhat fair in this review and didn't let me frustrations surface too blatantly.