Student playing piano

Why I Chose Hillsdale: Sarah Chavey

Written by Sarah Chavey

A burst of cool night air hits me as I leave the Student Union, reviving me from my long day of studying. I look around at Hillsdale’s beautiful campus and wave to the other students wandering about long after most others are asleep. After spending fifteen hours in class, at work, and in meetings, I’m physically exhausted. But something about the empty campus and the refreshing air make me think about the school I chose—a place that not only defines my education and but molds and changes me in ways that high school Sarah never could have imagined.

Hillsdale was hardly on my radar during my senior year of high school. I wanted a big school, a place to develop as a music major and journalist. The impossibly difficult core classes at Hillsdale College did not tempt a girl who didn’t care about Homer and Aristotle.

My first visit to the campus did not persuade me. Although I was intrigued by my interview—my admissions counselor showed me how little I knew about objective truth—I was still convinced it wasn’t the school for me.

After my parents nudged me a bit, I finally agreed to visit the school one more time before making a decision, and the second visit changed my life.

Maybe it was the girl who told me, “I wouldn’t go to another school if I were paid to.”

Maybe it was the number of students who took time out of their busy days to settle my doubts, insisting that a small school provides more opportunities to stand out and make friends.

Maybe it was Dr. Smith’s gripping lecture on Crime and Punishment that left me wishing to attend the rest of his class.

Driving home alone after the visit, I contemplated the mystery force that everyone on campus seemed to understand, and I realized I wanted to understand it too.

I may have been able to find good friends, outstanding professors, and riveting classes at another school, but I knew that at Hillsdale they were guaranteed.

As I walk home late at night three years later and reflect on the indescribable force that captivated me in high school, I can’t help but think about Dr. Arnn’s continual question about the good, true, and beautiful.

While I cannot pretend that I can fully answer these questions, my limited understanding (along with Aristotle’s) tells me that the good is pursuing virtue and using it to seek my direction in life. By inspiring students to question and deliberate the meaning of these virtues, Hillsdale’s atmosphere aids students in discovering their own individual purposes.

At some universities, the goal is simply to acquire a degree or obtain knowledge. At Hillsdale, the professors, faculty, and students are united in the shared mission of stimulating the intellect and pursuing virtue.

During a job interview I had as a high school senior, I was asked why I chose Hillsdale. I responded, “I loved the people, I loved the professors, I loved the classes, and I loved what the school stands for.” I may not have been able to articulate these thoughts then, but after participating in a fascinating Great Books lecture and speaking with the students who would one day become my classmates and friends, I knew I was willing to take the risk and accept Hillsdale’s challenge.

Sarah Chavey

Sarah Chavey is a music major from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She hopes to pursue journalism when she graduates in 2017.