Madison Cooney

Freshmen, Don’t Make the Same Mistakes That We Made

Written by Chandler Ryd

I asked an eclectic group of established Hillsdale students to reflect on what they did well—or what they would have done differently—during their freshman year, and how incoming students can avoid making classic freshmen mistakes.

“I wish I had done more of the readings.”     —Madeleine C., Senior

Madeleine suggests diving into the texts at Hillsdale. She assures that they are worth reading, and freshmen can benefit from reading on a deeper level than that required to pass an exam.


“I wouldn’t have been intimidated by the other students here.”     —Aaron S., Sophomore

Aaron came from a public high school and immediately felt like he had “something to prove” to the other students due to the academic atmosphere on our tightly-knit campus. However, he realized that he didn’t need to feel intimidated after seeing the welcoming and encouraging people at Hillsdale.


Madison Kearney“I wish I had invested more time in getting to know my dorm community.”     —Madison K., Junior

Dorm life can be exciting and fulfilling. It is a great way to establish lasting relationships. Madison encourages freshmen to step out of their rooms, take a break from studies, and engage in community.



“I would have finished the core as quickly as possible.”     —Melissa B., Junior

The core curriculum encourages students to reflect on the origins of Western culture and thought, so Melissa encourages freshmen to establish a strong academic foundation as soon as possible to get the full Hillsdale experience. It is also beneficial to take on the core classes right away if you are unsure of your intended major. Taking classes over a broad spectrum of subjects allows you to find the subject that interests you the most.

Eric Walker“I would have spent even more time with Garrett Holt.”    
—Eric W., Junior

Eric describes Garret Holt as being a “huge mentor in my life.” Eric advises freshmen to find their own role-models from whom they can learn and grow.



“I would have gone on more Simpson bedtime patrols.”     —Cooper D., Senior

Cooper describes Simpson bedtime patrols as a time when all the men on the hall wear ridiculous costumes and go about raiding the other floors in the building. The moral of this story, I guess, is bring a mask and a Nerf gun to Hillsdale. You will quickly make friends.


“I wish I had known that it’s okay to be lonely the first semester.”     —Taylor K.,Taylor Kemmeter Sophomore

Although many students make close friends right away, it will take some freshman a few months—if not longer—to find a good group of friends to rely upon and feel truly comfortable around. Unfortunately, this means that the first semester at college may feel lonely to some. Taylor assures freshmen that this loneliness is a necessary part of the transition into college life and, therefore, is nothing to worry about.



“Finding a group of people who go hard after Jesus was really helpful for me.”     —Colton G., Senior

Colton was unsure which of the many churches or faith-based campus organizations to get involved in, but he found a group of upperclassmen who inspired him in his faith during his freshman year. Colton encourages freshmen to find a group of strong believers and associate with them rather than picking and choosing a church or bible study based on personal preferences or background.


Devin Creed“I wouldn’t have dated anyone.”     —Devin C., Senior

I have been reminded time and time again, not just by Devin, but by many other upperclassmen, no matter what, I should not date anyone my freshman year. Avoiding the impulse to become romantically involved right off the bat at college can go a long way towards successfully settling yourself into Hillsdale.



“I wish I had not gotten so caught up in school that I let friendships slide.”     —Katrina B., Junior

Katrina fell into one of the blunders that I seem to find regularly among freshmen here at Hillsdale: the tendency to value studies over relationships. Hillsdale may be a heavily academically focused school, but everyone here—from the professors to the students to the food service staff—cares much more about the well-being of the students than about academic performance. Katrina knows that the friendships she makes here will be far more important to her than her GPA once she leaves Hillsdale.

Chandler Ryd is a freshman at Hillsdale College who is majoring in English. He is a Collegian Freelancer, creative writer, photographer, filmmaker, and craft root beer enthusiast.