Kate Vanderstelt

Choose Hillsdale for the Challenge

Written by Kate Vanderstelt

I am an obsessive planner. It is not uncommon to see my planner filled with play-by-plays of each day, and if something goes wrong, I am a little thrown off. The same was true on a larger scale when I was searching for a college. My future had always been mapped out to a T in my head. I had a perfected vision of attending a large school where I could carve out my own path. When my parents recommended I apply to Hillsdale College, I was taken aback. Why would they think a small school would fit in my plan?

And yet I applied, and I awaited the decision with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. My older sister had graduated from Hillsdale just a year before my application was sent, and my biggest fear was to attend a college where I would simply follow in her footsteps. Upon receiving my acceptance letter, I knew my fate was sealed. Hillsdale College was the best financial option for me, and it would allow me to compete at the collegiate level on its cross country and track and field teams, which had always been a dream of mine. So I called the coach at the time and informed him I would be attending Hillsdale in the fall of 2016. He seemed thrilled. I felt desperate.

Eighteen and nineteen are confusing ages. Half the population tells you that you are all grown up, while the other half tells you how little you truly know about the world. It’s a time where truth-seeking is the ultimate goal; you just want to know something so that you can say you’re grown up. For me, my college search revolved around this idea: Where will I be able to grow into this person I crave to be?   

Upon reflection two years later, I realize that I chose Hillsdale College for immature, unthought-out reasons. I was eighteen years old and panicky, and I chose Hillsdale because I would be obtaining the most financial aid and would receive the opportunity to compete in a sport I loved at the collegiate level. Now I am almost twenty years old, and I am extremely confident in the choice that unconfident eighteen-year-old me made. Hillsdale College has placed my closest friends and some of the best people I have ever met into my life. These people have pushed me to grow in ways I never imagined when I was a senior in high school.

I believe in investment. I believe that if you give your heart to something, it will pay you back in big ways. Hillsdale’s culture seems to embody this idea. If I had to pick the most important way in which I have grown in my underclassman years at Hillsdale College, it would be that I have learned this extremely important lesson. Hillsdale demands a lot. However, extensively embracing its culture and immersing myself fully into what I am looking to accomplish here have already driven me toward being the woman I aspire to be.

I chose Hillsdale due to an overwhelming feeling of obligation. I regretted the decision upon making it. If I had known that Hillsdale College was going to push me to be a woman who is challenged day after day to find truth and a purpose in life, I would decisively choose to be a Charger time and time again. I am forever grateful for the eighteen-year-old me who hesitantly told her college coach that she would be attending Hillsdale.

Kate VandersteltKate Vanderstelt, ‘20, studies English and chemistry. She is an athlete on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and a member of Chi Omega Fraternity.

Published in November 2018