College Tips from a “Wise Fool”

Written by Aaron Andrews

Freshman year presents itself in a flurry of new faces, and unfamiliar routines. It doesn’t matter if you were private-schooled, public-schooled or home-schooled; college is nothing like high school. Freshman year will present challenges to all students, no matter how prepared they fancy themselves.

With this uncomfortable truth established, here are a couple of tips that might help.

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  1. Sleep. There is something going on all the time, especially in the dorms. If you make it your goal to live inside of every joke and witness first hand every breaking event, then you’re going to die from sleep deprivation. Practice a little self control; pull the plug around 1:00 am tops.
  2. Do your homework first. Shenanigans abound at Hillsdale. You are sure to have a blast, but don’t let it come at the expense of your education. Remember why you came here. I recommend working in the morning and in the daylight until you can say that you are on top of the massive heap which is your workload; then cut loose.
  3. Keep it under 18 credits. I get it. There are so many classes you want to take. Let me reassure you: There’s so much time. You have eight semesters ahead of you. There’s no need to feel rushed. I recommend, especially for your first semester, that you stay in the 15-16 credit range.
  4. Don’t try to shoulder the 5th academic. Don’t be crazy. That’s hard for seniors to do…seniors! You might be able to stay on top of five academic classes, but I promise you, unless you’re some kind of Stephen Hawking, you won’t be able to study well. Start out with three or four academics and really dig into them.
  5. Tackle the core first. Take it from a student who hasn’t taken physical health and wellness dynamics yet: just get it out of the way. There’s nothing worse than feeling behind.
  6. Don’t specialize just yet. I can’t tell you how many times my freshmen classmates and I answered the question “So what are you majoring in?” with a curt, decided “Economics” or “English.” The truth is, most of us still have only a shadow of an idea concerning what we want to pursue here at Hillsdale. This is why the liberal arts are so great. You get to try your hand at everything! If someone asks you, you’re majoring in the liberal arts.
  7. Sssssssh. You don’t know. There’s nothing that is as much fun as a student union bullfight over philosophy, religion, or politics. I encourage you to engage in these impromptu debates; however, I urge you to listen before you speak and to examine your thoughts before you do. This school is going to challenge all of your presuppositions. Don’t be surprised if you come out the other side of graduation thinking about philosophy, religion, and politics in a totally different way. Avoid regret. Be polite.

That’s really all of the advice that this “wise fool” has to offer. It’s good to have you with us! Let me know if you need anymore help.


Aaron AndrewsAaron Andrews, ‘18, is studying English, Latin, and whatever else crosses his fancy. He spends his summers in North Eastern Washington, rural Stevens Country, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where he goes for weeks on end with no internet. He spends his free time photographing local herds of cattle, and frolicking in Washington’s famous amber waves of grain.