Each Forge student is responsible for contributing towards the total cost of the program. While some students will donate the entire amount out of their own pocket, there are many students who are unable to do so. Those who cannot afford to donate the program cost themselves usually decide to fundraise the program cost instead. So, essentially, most students fundraise their own scholarship in order to be able to attend.
With the exception of textbooks, all expenses are covered in the program cost. The only expenses the students need to be prepared to shoulder are their own personal expenses (cell phone bill, car insurance, gas, etc.). Most students will find that the value of the Forge is extremely high in comparison to basic living expenses for 8-months (not to mention additional education and travel expenses). The Forge is an excellent value. See our cost page for more details.
The Forge is an excellent pre-seminary track to ministry. Seminary will focus on equipping the student with the competencies necessary for ministry. The Forge will focus on the development of the person who is going to be doing the ministry. An academic environment is not the best place to work on your character, your sins, your calling, or your giftings. Seminaries assume that students have most of that figured out before they enroll. The Forge is an excellent way to be evaluated and encouraged in one’s personal development before receiving the final training necessary for a lifetime of ministry. In fact, we have partnerships with Dallas Theological Seminary and Dallas Baptist University just for this reason.
A typical week in the Forge is never typical. We like to say, “you’ll never really have the same week twice.” We like to keep things fresh, new, and adventurous. When we are not traveling, however, there is a basic schedule that looks like this:
Each month we give the students a lump sum of petty cash that they use to purchase both food as well as personal items. The students are in charge of determining the distribution, accounting, and reconciliation of the petty cash each month. We teach the students how to grocery shop and prepare meals for large numbers of people. In general, the students must work together to manage not just their food money, but also budget enough time to prepare their meals each day. Each of the Forge cabins has an oversize kitchen adequate for all of their meal preparations.
Thanks to the generosity of a large number of people, the Forge was able to build two brand new living facilities for the students in 2016 – one for men and one for women. Each building has four rooms that house four students. The rooms have two toilets, two showers, two sinks. The rooms have a small living room downstairs for study and lounge with a lofted upstairs for sleeping and dress. Each building has a large great room, oversize kitchen, covered porch, and panoramic view of the woods and lake. Check out this blog post for some pictures.
The calendar of the year is fairly similar to a traditional school calendar. Students get a week off for Thanksgiving, just under three weeks for Christmas, and Good Friday as holidays.
Forge students are required to work six weekends each semester of the program. So, in a 15-week semester, each student will work just less than half of those weekends (some of those weekends may occur at the beginning or end of holiday breaks). While working a weekend, the student should expect to be busy from Friday evening until Sunday lunch.
When students are not scheduled to work a weekend, they are free to use their weekend as they please. Classes recess around 12:30pm on Fridays and do not resume again until 1pm on Mondays.
Although not guaranteed, each student can expect at least one weekend free each month. Sometimes work schedules and the Forge travel schedule makes that hard, but generally speaking students have sufficient time off.
For those prospective students who have worked at Pine Cove in the summer, the Forge is not like camp. You are allowed to use your cell phone, you can leave when you like if you are not supposed to be in class, etc. We can and do make it possible for you to attend weddings and other special family events if they do not conflict with the Forge calendar.
This is one of our most popular questions and also one of the most difficult to answer because each situation is unique and different. You are welcome to still apply and attend the Forge if accepted, but whether or not you should is a decision you and your family should make together. We have seen many students successfully defer their loan payments until after the Forge. We have also seen many students receive support from family who were willing to make the loan payments on their behalf while in the program. Since each situation is different, we would love to get to know your story in order to be able to give you a more specific recommendation.
Students are required to work 6 weekends each semester. Each semester is around 15 weeks, so the student should expect to work 12 weekends over the course of the eight months.
During College: Students who take a year off of college to do the Forge tell us that the Forge is one of the best things that has ever happened to their college education. Many Forge graduates have also told us that they saw a sharp upturn in their grades as well as their passion for learning because they learned how to learn while at the Forge. After the Forge, our alumni tell us that they were eager to return to school because of their newfound purpose and direction in life. Those that had come to the Forge without a vision for their post-graduate life (or who didn’t like their majors) wound up returning to school either with renewed enthusiasm for their major, or made a significant change in major that they were excited to pursue. Bottom line: the Forge much to enhance the remainder of a collegiate career.
After College: Students who come to the Forge as a post-graduate opportunity tell us that it has really helped prepare them for their family and career life. Lots of our former students communicated to us an immense pressure to get a job and be ‘on their own’ as soon as graduation happened. However, as great as their college experience was, they felt largely unsure about their own life skills and ability to navigate life on their own. College prepared them for a vocation, but not adulthood. College gave them credentials, but it did not give them confidence. Post-graduate experience in the Forge helps to solidify those loose ends and give the graduate confidence and specificity about his or her life direction.
The Forge is not a gap year program. We require at least a year away from home to be eligible to apply.
The size of the Forge program makes it unique. At no more than 30 students, the Forge is significantly smaller than most other gap year and discipleship programs. Our staff is able to offer one-on-one mentoring with each student every other week for the 8-month experience. This allows us to excel in another area that sets the Forge apart from other programs: whole person development. We are not interested in indoctrinating students with information, we desire that they become who God has designed them to be. So, many of our experiences, classes, and trips overlap with each other to create a learning environment that helps to develop the whole person rather than just the intellect. Finally, most students will say that the community at the Forge is one of its biggest hallmarks. Students emerge having learned the tough stuff of friendship that will enhance all of their relationships in the future.
Students in the Forge program should expect lots of reading and writing. The reading is at a fast pace and graduate level. The writing is regular and the quality is expected to be on par with a college graduate. Students should expect to read around two books each month and write at least one major paper each month. Students should also be prepared to do a heavy load of self-introspection in the first semester. They also need to take into account the workload of living life: budgeting, food preparation, cleanliness, leisure/rest, etc.
We welcome friends, family, and any prospective students to come visit. Please contact us to make arrangements and to insure that your visit fits well within our schedule.
Yes, all Forge students are required to have health insurance before entering the program. Most students remain under their parents insurance. Pine Cove will provide supplemental health coverage in the event of sickness or injury, but it is not full coverage.
No, we do not permit students to hold a job while they are at the Forge. We expect the students to consider this 8-months as ‘turning-aside’ from the world of work to make sure they are prepared to enter into it as faithful servants of Christ. Our schedule is too erratic and irregular for a student to hold down a regular job. We do make minor exceptions for students who have freelance careers, but generally students expect to be full time learners at the Forge.
There are several ways that students can earn walking around money while at the Forge:
Please contact us if you have additional questions.