Calli Townsend

Why I Chose Hillsdale: “Choosing the Challenge”

Written by Calli Townsend

I look at the daunting to-do list on my desk and am reminded that this school is challenging. No doubt about it. But I was expecting that. I chose the challenge.

I had lacked confidence in my intelligence and feared being unable to understand my professors and relate to other students. I’d heard stories of older friends going off to college only to find themselves amongst a hundred other students in a lecture hall, listening to a professor speak incredibly quickly. I had enough trouble at times understanding my high school math teacher. I didn’t think I was ready to handle a college education.

And so, during my visit to this small, beautiful campus, I asked my host, Ashlee, “Will I even be smart enough to come here?”

“It’s not easy,” she said, “but it’s definitely not impossible. It’s just hard work.”

This comforted me. But I also worried about fitting in. I toured campus on a Monday, which means one thing: Pin Day, when all the sorority members dress up in skirts and heels. As I walked around in my comfy pants, sandals, and messy hair, I had one more reason to fear not being good enough for this school. Thankfully, Ashlee was quick to explain Pin Day to me, and that this attire was not an everyday occurrence.

As I talked with the students on campus, my fear of fitting in slowly shrank. I met a lot of girls from the track team, whom I now thankfully call teammates. They were kind and inviting, and even a little goofy. They weren’t afraid of being themselves. We just sat on the couches and talked as a video of Bob Ross painting a landscape played in the background. This reminded me of the laid-back nights I was used to with my high school friends. There was no pressure of fitting in. It felt like I was already part of the team.

After arriving freshman year and training with my teammates, I learned that they had come to Hillsdale with the same fears of fitting in but had overcome them and even chased more challenges. Some are composers, scientific researchers, singers, and more. No one here is just one thing. They are special people who know they’ve been given special talents, and they’re eager to use them. For a while I was intimidated by my teammates and again feared failure. But as I saw their strength and motivation, I went from being intimidated to being inspired.

The same has been true of my relationships with professors. I’ve had many opportunities to walk into a professor’s office with one simple question, and then end up talking about life and its many lessons for twenty minutes. I learned quickly that my professors truly care about me as a person, not just me as a student and the grades I receive.

College is more than what is learned in the classroom. It’s about the life lessons learned along the way and the character that is built. The environment at Hillsdale is certainly challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been strengthened physically, mentally, and spiritually here. I wanted a school that would shape me into a greater version of myself. Hillsdale wasn’t exactly everything I was looking for in a college, but it’s everything I needed.

Calli TownsendCalli Townsend, ’21, is studying sports management and journalism in the hope of becoming a sports journalist, author, and popcorn store owner.

Published in November 2018