The Escape to Hillsdale

Written by Mathieu Wiesner

As I was chatting with a freshman student, he remarked, “I think Hillsdale is the best college in the country!” I responded, “It might be the only college in the country.” 

Transfer students, such as myself, can readily share their less than desirable experiences at other schools, and why we were drawn to “escape to Hillsdale.” All of us were underwhelmed by the quality of our classes, the strange cultural obsession with race and gender, and the severe lack of goodness, truth, and beauty. I even had a professor call me “problematic” for speaking well about western democracy. All of us are now relieved to be attending Hillsdale College. Why did we transfer to Hillsdale? In a word, we wanted an education.

But, it’s not just transfer students. A brief look at Hillsdale’s admissions stats will show Hillsdale College is hot property. In 2021, the Admissions Office reviewed a record 3,300 applicants, while the admission rate dropped to a record low 23%, a 13% decrease from the previous year. Despite the sharp decrease in acceptance, the incoming class size has increased over the course of three years, going from an average of 350 incoming freshmen to an average of 420. 

What’s going on here? Why are so many students applying, and why do they often feel like they’ve won the lottery when they’re admitted? Why do so many students, myself included, feel like we’ve “escaped to Hillsdale?”

Take your pick of reasons: The academics are rigorous and robust, with passionate professors and great books. The facilities are state-of-the-art and offered generously. The opportunities are plentiful and valuable, whether extracurricular or career-oriented. The campus itself is beautiful and dutifully maintained.

Most striking, and what sets Hillsdale apart for me, is the striving of its students. Who’s asking questions that enlighten me and spur me on to greater understanding? The students of Hillsdale. Who am I going to see, whether for a performance in the Fine Arts Building, or a game at the Roche Sports Complex? The students of Hillsdale. Who’s running the extracurricular activities or  helping students in the Career Services Office? The students of Hillsdale. Who’s planting the flowers we admire while walking to class? The students of Hillsdale.  

Perhaps virtue cannot be taught, but it can be learned, and the students at Hillsdale are on a quest to learn it. My fellow transfer students and I used to feel lost and alone, unable to relate to our classmates or our professors. Now that we’ve “escaped to Hillsdale,” we feel included, valued, and part of a greater community. Hillsdale is the only school I know that makes its goal the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Given the choice, why would I want to pursue anything else? 

Mathieu Wiesner, ‘25, is a theatre major and classics minor. He enjoys performing, looking at great art, and writing. He loves anything creative, and is constantly on the lookout for new paintings to purchase. You may bump into him during his 37th trip to the DIA. 

Published in September 2022