Why I Chose Hillsdale: Olivia Mulley

Written by Katarzyna Ignatik

Olivia Mulley considered attending colleges like Penn State University and Carnegie Mellon University. Of all the schools she was accepted to, she was especially interested in Princeton University, which offered her many opportunities in cultural activities and extracurriculars in her interest areas. But in the end, there was something about Hillsdale she just couldn’t let go of.

“I had to make sure I was doing what was right for me,” Olivia said of her college discernment period.
Olivia was initially attracted to Princeton’s humanities sequence, in which students read the Greek philosophers and other great works in the Western tradition. But she realized she was “trying to customize her Princeton education to be what she would automatically get at Hillsdale.”

“I told myself, ‘You are using Hillsdale as your metric for what you expect out of a good education.’ For the next four years of my life, which is my priority? Education or extra activities? I decided to invest in the fundamentals now.”

Plus, weighing her options, Olivia knew how much more cost-effective Hillsdale was than Princeton, which doesn’t offer merit scholarships. “Hillsdale had the best value through the generosity of the college—scholarships are an option here,” she said with a laugh.

As for comparing Hillsdale to schools like Penn State, Olivia liked the more personal aspect of Hillsdale classes and its healthier culture. “At Hillsdale, I could have four years steeped in a community I didn’t have to escape from. At a state school, I would be asking myself, ‘How can I avoid this and that?’, whereas in Hillsdale it was more of a question of the things I could be involved in.”

A lot of the decision to become a part of Hillsdale’s culture hinged on Olivia’s view of education, which she wanted to be formative and fulfilling. “I wanted to know my beliefs better, bolster them up, and have more intelligent stances. But if I was in a place where I was always on the defensive, I would just get practice in fending off attacks rather than learning why I believe things. We should challenge others from a place of wanting to know the right way to go, instead of wanting to break others down to conform them to what we want them to believe.”

In retrospect, Olivia can see how much of a right decision she made. “Hillsdale turned out to be a much richer place than I realized it would be.”


Katarzyna IgnatikKatarzyna Ignatik, ’20, studies English. She strives to live optimistically and deeply, with a healthy sense of the hilarity of life. Katarzyna believes that the world should have more genuine community, witty conversation, and appreciation for pleasant little things like green grass and bread pudding.


Published in September 2019