A Letter to Prospective Students
Written by Katarzyna Ignatik
Dear Panicking Prospective,
Yes, Hillsdale College is known for its large core curriculum. It touches on several parts of the liberal arts, from physics to philosophy, and it is one of the farthest-reaching college core curriculums in the nation. Perhaps that is the reason I have heard the following questions from students and prospective students:
“What if I bring shame to my family by not graduating on time? What if my GPA drops too low from taking classes that just aren’t my thing? And why do I have to take all these classes I won’t even need anyway?”
These are concerns that many of us relate to. The core is big—and has recently expanded—but for good reason: If you allow it to be, it will be a help.
As part of the liberal arts, we want to be able to study truth through different lenses. The core allows us to do that. We get to see beauty in the expanse of the sky and the rhythm of poetry alike. And besides this, the core has practical advantages.
The core gives every Hillsdale student a chance to try several different disciplines that he or she might not otherwise be able to experience. If you’ve always wanted to take an art class or learn about human psychology, the core allows you to explore some secondary interests without the fear of excessive commitment.
Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do in life, the core gives you time to think without too much pressure. Since core classes span a few semesters, you don’t have to start completing requirements for a specific major right away. All the different core classes give time to experience several things before making a final decision. You might even discover interests or talents you never knew you had—which explains why so many Hillsdale students switch majors or add minors during their four years.
As for the practical aspect of the core, it’s certainly possible to finish a major in time to graduate in four years. Even the largest major (the 63-credit International Business) can be finished along with the core and with credits to spare for electives. In fact, Hillsdale is peppered with students who find the time to double or even triple major during their four years.
If you’re still seriously concerned about time management, don’t be. Hillsdale does offer summer school courses, which many student participants remember fondly as a mere three weeks of class and summer fun. Also, many AP or college credits from high school will transfer, providing an advantage on the credit requirement.
Of course, the core isn’t a breeze. It requires a willingness to conquer it and an ability to manage a variety of classes efficiently. But come confidently, expecting that the core will teach you something new—even if you have to study something you think you hate. The classes might change your perceptions. I know they’ve changed mine.
A (Somewhat) Reassured Student
Katarzyna Ignatik is an English major in the class of 2020. She spends her time doing homework (of course), binge-reading, binge-writing, singing, and laughing at everything and anything. Talk to her about Tolkien, the 50s, or abstract philosophical concepts, and she’ll be perfectly happy.