Cecilia Bellet

Why I Chose Hillsdale: Cecilia Bellet

Written by Cecilia Bellet

How did I end up at Hillsdale College? I’m sure seventeen-year-old me would like to know as well. I had fought my family against applying to Hillsdale ever since my older brother started his freshman year at the College. As the only girl in my large family, I wanted to see the world for myself without the “protection” of my brothers. Besides, most everyone from the South stays there, so I saw myself applying to the same Tennessee schools that my friends had.

In the end I did apply. I was secretly a little unsure about my decision to go pre-med, and I knew that Hillsdale’s core would force me to explore other fields.

As soon as I received my acceptance letter that spring, the admissions department invited me to compete for a leadership scholarship. The fact that such an academically rigorous college valued leadership caught me by surprise. Still, I was not overjoyed at the prospect of attending this event—especially because it happened to be the same weekend of the prom. And if I’m being honest, I was happy to have another reason to deride Hillsdale in front of my family.

So there I was on the flight up to Hillsdale, fuming over missing prom and brainstorming reasons why I would never attend the College. “Too small,” “Too much reading,” and after landing, I added “Too cold” and “Too rural” to my list. However, my bias began to fade as soon as I arrived on campus.

Swept up in a flurry of strangers, the first thing I noticed was how attentive everyone seemed. Unlike the visits I’d made to my top colleges, people were not brushing past one another with headphones and glazed-over eyes. There was conversation everywhere.

The more time I spent on campus, the more I noticed how remarkable these conversations were. Whether in the cafeteria with other prospectives or out socializing with my brother and his friends, small talk was almost always replaced by in-depth discussions on any subject. Looking back now, I see that I was starting to understand that these conversations were linked by a greater pursuit of truth.

I had never seen a campus quite like Hillsdale. The enthusiasm and passion of the students saturated every aspect of campus from Greek life to the football field to summer internships. Was it possible that this abstract “pursuit of truth” was more than words on a brochure? After seeing how it both unified and energized the student body, I began to think about college differently.

Walking away from that visit, I realized that a college truly has the power to form the characters of its students. In my three days at Hillsdale, I felt more independent and confident that I ever dreamed I’d be at any college, and I wanted to become one of the energized and intelligent students I had met on my visit. As badly as I didn’t want to admit it, I wanted to have exactly what my brother had at Hillsdale College.

Cecilia Bellet, class of 2018, hails from Nashville and studies economics and French.