Why I Chose Hillsdale: Daniel Ziegler

Written by Daniel Ziegler

High school swim practices in Colorado are awful. Regular breath control is hard. Breath control at our home pools’ elevation of 7600 feet could get downright brutal. In my high school swim team, we had a competition for whichever swimmer could cause the coach to become sidetracked the longest, thereby causing us to run out of time for our breath set at the end.

With that intent in mind, I asked my coach if he had any college application advice for me. His first suggestion was not Hillsdale. He spat out, “West Point, USAFA, Annapolis, and Coast Guard Academy, if you must.” I reminded him that I was not qualified for the military academies because I had diabetes; I needed a civilian school. He then stated, “Go to Hillsdale. It’s the best civilian school.”

I was confused: “How can some tiny school, located so far north that it’s practically in Canada, compete with Ivy League schools?” My swim coach, a graduate of USAFA, Notre Dame, and Stanford gave a glowing thirty-minute lecture on Hillsdale’s philosophy. It got me curious and a little excited. For starters, virtus tentamine gaudet excited me. “Strength rejoices in the challenge” – it’s an awesome motto for any institution! It sounds like it was pulled directly from a Zack Snyder film, except with the important element that Hillsdale has a plot, a direction to its strength.

Armed with a recommendation from my coach and this good motto, I decided to look seriously at Hillsdale. I took two of Hillsdale’s online classes, read multiple Imprimis issues, and eventually decided that this was the college I wanted to go to. A visit to campus in the spring of my junior year sealed it for me. Any school that has statues of the “Greats” sprinkled around its green bucolic campus and an old, historic clock tower must be good.

I am attracted to Hillsdale for a couple of reasons. I would like to say it is because I understand the important work done here, I agree with Hillsdale’s philosophy on education, and I wanted to join into a college that was established and focused on its goal. I came to Hillsdale because the campus is super cool and the people are fun. Most importantly, I came because I am curious to learn about the great men and women of our past, I am curious about what strength of conviction causes a college to reject government funding, and I am just curious to learn.


This post is part of our “Freshmen Journey” series in which current freshmen write about their academic and student life experiences, and give their perspective on Hillsdale College.