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Charging Towards Greatness - Hillsdale College

Creator: 001 Douglas Coon

Copyright: Copyright 2011 © Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College, a small, faith-focused, liberal arts college is determined to help students become their best selves, along with creating a comfortable community to feel at home.

Hillsdale College is focused on strengthening its 1,500 undergraduates’ education, with all the advantages of having a small community. A student-faculty ratio of 8:1 provides an opportunity for students to have an easier time getting help in classes. Hillsdale also offers 28 honorary societies for students who wish to build an even stronger foundation for success.

With over a hundred clubs and organizations, seven Greek houses, twelve Division II athletic teams, intramural and club sports, and artistic programs, the campus is busy. Over 30 percent of students become members of Greek organizations to discover an even smaller intimate group.

The college offers men’s football, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, track, and cross-country varsity sports. Women’s varsity sports consist of basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis, swimming, track, and cross-country. Overall, the school has 67+ sporting teams.

The school embraces faith in all its academics, organizations, clubs, and sports teams. Hillsdale welcomes students regardless of their faith, therefore religious services aren’t required. Students lead various Bible studies, gatherings, and worship services to make sure peers can participate in a vibrant spiritual life on campus.

This private liberal arts college offers financial benefits such as scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment. 99 percent of students receive financial aid.

Hillsdale’s campus is a mix of 78 remarkable modern and historic buildings. Freshmen are required to live on campus, which can be helpful for finding friendships. Hillsdale’s downtown area retains its historic charm and nature’s beauty along with its many local shops and restaurants.

Recently, Hillsdale started a unique opportunity to study abroad on a cruise ship. These cruises incorporate lecture programs and land tours featuring leading professors, scholars, and journalists. In 2024, the cruise starts in Monte Carlo and sails across the Mediterranean Sea to Barcelona. Hillsdale has much to offer with advancing education and a dynamic community that will make you feel welcome.

Interviewing Mr. Scoles, Mrs. Marillier, and Samantha Otting revealed captivating information one could not get from Hillsdale’s website.

Mr. Scoles, Hackett’s Principal, studied at Hillsdale for 5 years and received his Bachelor’s Degree in History, Bachelor’s Degree in Music, and secondary teaching certificate. Hackett’s Latin teacher, Mrs. Marillier, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Classics in 4 years. Samantha Otting graduated from Hackett in 2023 and is currently studying history and politics.

For those interested in hearing a direct account, here are two interviews, one with Hillsdale alumni and one with a current student:

For having a smaller student-to-faculty ratio, were there any benefits compared to being at bigger schools with 500 student lectures?

Mr. Scoles-

Absolutely. I knew each of my teachers and my teachers knew me. I could ask questions in class or ask questions about completing schoolwork. You don't get that personalized attention in a lecture hall of 500.

Mrs. Marillier-

DEFINITELY. They could demand more of you individually and you could actually build a relationship with your professors. You could go to office hours. They came to student events. There is no comparison between a big and small college/university.

What was Hillsdale's student life like?

Mr. Scoles-

Student life was fun and largely carefree. We left our bags in the EAR before going to eat, we would leave our dorm rooms unlocked. My schedules were busy, but we still made time to hang out together. It was great.

Mrs. Marillier-

Very friendly and religious/conservative, but frat houses and sports houses (like baseball) were wild party scenes. Overall though a safer environment. Lots of events and clubs to participate in.

What clubs, groups, or programs were you a part of?

Mr. Scoles-

Phi Mu Alpha, Mu Alpha, Theater, Choir, Chamber Choir

Mrs. Marillier-

Honors program, Eta Sigma Phi (classics honorary)

Were you involved in any religious activities? How did you focus on strengthening your faith in college?

Mr. Scoles-

I attended Dr. Willson's church--I was not a member of any denomination at the time (I'm Catholic now).

Mrs. Marillier-

Yes. Went with a group of friends to church.

Is there anything you miss about the school or the area?

Mr. Scoles-

I miss the community, but that's part of growing up. I'm 40 now and fully involved in raising kids and my career. I don't have the time I did when I was 18-21.

Mrs. Marillier-

I miss it all sooooo much. The town isn't great but the campus is beautiful. I had so many good friends there, and learned so much. I love Hillsdale.

Looking back, what was the transition from high school to college like? Was it challenging or difficult?

Mr. Scoles-

Transitioning to college was relatively easy. I had a challenging high school, so the biggest challenges were things like registering for classes and navigating paperwork. It was a bigger challenge than normal because I grew up in Alaska so I enrolled at Hillsdale site unseen. The first time I stepped on camps was freshman orientation.

Mrs. Marillier-

Yes it was like a smack in the face. Hillsdale made me a much better scholar and person, but it wasn't easy. They have high standards.

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to inform students who are interested in Hillsdale about?

Mr. Scoles-

Hillsdale is proud of being a "trustee of the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian" heritage. When students engage in the Great Conversation of political philosophy and the classic works of literature, students join a part of a culture and conversation that has spanned 3,500 years. There is a context to life's questions and a greater ability to dedicate your life to a purpose and vision that is greater than yourself. That vision is lacking and I believe that people are starving for an opportunity to give of themselves to something greater.

Mrs. Marillier-

Go visit! If it's right for you, you'll know.

What are the professors like?

Samantha Otting-

I love the professors! Each of them really takes time to meet with their students. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them very well over the past few months. Each of them offers office hours, which I have taken them up on. Many students at Hillsdale use office hours to connect with their professors.

What is significantly different from Hackett?

Samantha Otting-

Well, there are a lot of differences between Hillsdale and Hackett. The major difference that I’ve seen is the amount of freedom given to each student in college. There’s also a huge difference in the student body and the bond between students.

What is student life like?

Samantha Otting-

Hillsdale is very busy, even though it’s in the middle of nowhere. Lots of student organizations keep the student body busy all year. The Student Activities Board plans lots of events to keep us occupied, there's campus rec for intramural sports, there's Greek life to get involved with your peers.

Are you currently involved in any sports, clubs, or organizations?

Samantha Otting-

Right now I am currently involved in the Catholic society which provides lots of opportunities for prayer, adoration, confession, and mass during the week. I participated in intramural volleyball and reffing, I play beach and indoor! I am hoping to get involved in Greek life after winter break. I’m also in the accounting club which gives you skills for the accounting major, but you can really do any club even if you’re not majoring in that particular field.

Are you involved in any religious activities like chapel, bible study, etc. How is your religious life different from being in a community other than Hackett's?

Samantha Otting-

I am involved in the Catholic society. I would say at Hillsdale, my faith life has definitely grown a lot more. It’s allowed me to challenge my way of thinking and force myself to understand why I believe what I believe. I’d say that my religious life is very different from the way it was at Hackett, it’s a lot stronger.

What is campus life like? Have you been to any campus activities?

Samantha Otting-

Campus life is pretty entertaining and packed full. We’ve had two big events, the welcome party and garden party (which are two concerts where student bands typically perform). Our homecoming week here is pretty insane. We have banners drawn up and “Mock Rock''. This is where all the houses for students on campus participate in dances and things of that nature. There’s always something to do on the weekends or the weeknights so you’re never really bored.

What are the biggest differences between college and high school?

Samantha Otting-

I think the biggest difference between college and high school is the maturing that you need to go through. Your parents aren’t there to tell you what to do anymore. You have to figure yourself out because you can’t just float around and hope for the best. You really have to decide what you want for yourself in college because it could really go one of two ways. You decide if you want to either go out and not do anything, or go out and be involved and accomplished a lot.

Is there anything you miss about the Kalamazoo/Portage area?

Samantha Otting-

I definitely miss Chick-fil-A. I also miss a lot of my friends from high school. I definitely miss my family and my dogs but I really enjoy the city of Hillsdale. It’s very beautiful.

Finally, is there anything you would like to inform current students interested in Hillsdale about?

Samantha Otting-

I’d like to tell current students at Hackett who are interested in Hillsdale that it’s definitely a school for people who are willing to work hard, and want to accomplish more in their life. It’s pretty daunting when you get to campus and they tell you that you’re going to fail, but failure is a part of life, and it will push you to grow. If that’s what you really want out of life and that’s what you want in college, then I suggest going to Hillsdale. It’s also a place where you can really grow in your faith, so if you’re interested in that, Hillsdale is definitely the place for you. You can also make a lot of great connections for jobs later in life through Hillsdale.


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