Dylan Strehle

Evacuating the Comfort Zone: Why I Chose Hillsdale

Written by Dylan Strehle

If you were to ask me to enumerate the times I’ve apologized to a Subway sandwich artist for messing up my order, I would laugh in your face and then apologize profusely for coming across passive aggressive. I might be the most passive and least confrontational of God’s beings. Despite that fact, for the last three years I’ve attended a school that prides itself in confronting and debating preconceived notions and personal beliefs. I did not go to Hillsdale to continue to be this person. I chose Hillsdale because the people here inspired me to be a better person.

I first heard about the College in my mother’s Nissan minivan while eating fruit snacks on the way home from theater practice. Michael Medved—a voice commonly heard over the radio in my home—told my mother and me about a small liberal arts college in Michigan that wished to “Pursue Truth and Defend Liberty.” While I was too busy thinking about Beyblade battle tops to listen, my mother absorbed every word. Before you could count to 1776, my parents were subscribed to Imprimis, calculating tuition rates, and scheduling a college visit for my twin brother. I, however, was not involved in this whirlwind of a-type activity. My passivity had gotten the best of me, and I was curious but largely ambivalent about the school.

Throughout my years in public education, I had never thought much about college. I’m indecisive about tough decisions, and choosing a college was the most paralyzing decision I had ever come up against. I had even considered kicking the can down the road and working through some community college classes before heading off to a university. It was going to take a very special school to get me away from the comfort of my home and the safety of indecision. In the meantime, my brother was visiting Hillsdale.

As I lay on the couch watching television instead of enjoying the nice spring day, I received a call from my brother. He spent ten minutes describing all the ways in which Hillsdale had impressed him: the classes, the dorms, the dark-furred squirrels that invade the campus seasonally. My interest was finally piqued. I had to visit Hillsdale and see this for myself.

The visit would be the turning point in my life. It was the shot of adrenaline I needed to be inspired about college. I was lucky enough to sit in on Dr. Hart’s American Heritage class, and I was thoroughly impressed. Sitting in on class made me realize that in-class discussion could move past the milquetoast I had seen in public school. While I could not tell you what was discussed that day, outside of the fact that it had something to do with Benjamin Franklin, the difference in seriousness and complexity of the discussion blew my AP U.S. history out of the water. The reverence in which the students pursued education astounded me. They were motivated and decisive people who knew what they believed and were willing to act on it. They were the kind of people I wanted to be.

I won’t pretend that I have been completely transformed from the non-confrontational person who could not decide whether he wanted to go to college. I have come to accept that as just a piece of my personality that I will struggle against until the day I meet my maker. Still, Hillsdale has assuredly pushed me in the right direction. Hillsdale’s culture has inspired me to find the strength to struggle with that indecisive and cautious person I tend to be. I will never be able to repay the school for that strength.

Dylan Strehle, ’19, is an English major from the rainforest of Washington State’s Puget Sound. A performer by trade, he writes to entertain.

Published in June 2018