Reevaluating My College Criteria
Written by Catherine Fassett
It has always been hard for me to pin down why exactly I chose Hillsdale, and now I realize it’s because I didn’t. In the end, Hillsdale chose me, and it just took me a while to realize that.
I was first introduced to the College as a freshman in high school, and it was then that I swore on my life I’d attend literally anywhere else. When my older sister decided to attend that small school seemingly in the middle of nowhere around Jackson, Michigan, it only made me more certain that I wanted what I’ll call the “American Dream” of colleges, as showcased by Hollywood and PAC-12 football. My criteria for a school were simple: that the school had a football team, a Greek system, and a large dynamic student body.
Flash forward to senior year of high school. While I wanted Hillsdale to be at the back of my mind, it simply refused. With an older sister who absolutely loved the place, parents who brought it up every time there was an opening in the conversation, and a very persistent admissions counselor, I found it harder and harder to ignore that tiny school surrounded by cornfields and dirt roads. I continued searching for the perfect college, from California to Alabama and everywhere in-between, but couldn’t shake the nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that maybe everyone else was right. Maybe Hillsdale was where I was supposed to be. Maybe this little place had everything that was missing from the other nine schools I’d applied to, researched, and visited.
Coming to this realization and coming to terms with it were two very different processes. I began to recognize that Hillsdale was a better choice for myself only once I started seriously looking into other schools. With each new visit, I optimistically stepped onto the campus with high hopes. Every time, however, that little voice piped up, always eager to let me know what this particular school was missing that Hillsdale offered. Then I got an invitation to Leadership Weekend at Hillsdale College, one of a few existing scholarship competitions, and it was during this visit that I began to visualize myself as a student for the first time. Getting to interface and work closely with peers who could become classmates in less than a year, attending real classes that I could soon be enrolled in, and candidly chatting with my host about life at Hillsdale introduced me to a different view of campus than the formality of tours and day-visit schedules.
I sat in my host’s room in the Kappa house between lectures that weekend and realized that these girls were not so unlike me. It was obvious that they had developed a deep love for the College, one that had only deepened during their four years here, and that I, too, was beginning to develop. Still, I remained reluctant to give up on the dream of attending a big state school and persisted until my admissions counselor called four days before the decision deadline. He warned that if I didn’t commit soon, there wouldn’t be space for me in the freshman class of 2019. As a testament to my stubborn nature, I proceeded to wait an entire day before calling back and putting down my deposit on that little school that had surprised me by being everything I never knew I needed.
Looking back, Hillsdale delivered on all of my seemingly arbitrary “dream school” criteria, but in unexpected ways that fit me more than my original goals. I got my football team, found my perfect fit in this smaller-than-average Greek system, and have built those lifelong friendships my mom often talks about. And though I didn’t get my huge student body, the one I did get is better than any I could have imagined.
Catherine Fassett, ’19, is an economics major with minors in graphic design and Spanish from Beverly Hills, MI. When she isn’t holed up in the library or spending long nights in Sage, she enjoys football, all works by Hemingway, and a good cup of Checker Records coffee.
Published in June 2018