racquetball and racquetball racquet on a racquetball court

Dear Freshman Me: Find These Academic Gems

Written by Callahan Stoub

Dear Freshman Me,

You probably think you’d never take a sports class in college. Who has time for that? You’re probably thinking about how much you need to focus on school and making a good impression of your first year here. That’s all important, but let me challenge you: taking fun classes is the best way to do that. Hillsdale’s flat-rate tuition up to 17 credits means you don’t have to pay for extra courses. Additionally, your professors know you’re there by choice rather than by obligation. These smaller classes are refreshing mix-ins for your schedule and give you something different to talk about.

Remember that racquetball class I mentioned when I told you about Mr. Moeggenberg? That was a great way to get exercise a few hours a week, clear my brain, and learn a new sport. When college students get busy, the first two things to go are sleep and exercise. We tell ourselves it’s more important to get our work done, but in reality, you’ll be able to get your work done better and faster by staying physically active. Taking an hour of your day to get your head out of the books and get your blood flowing can actually help you think more clearly. By signing up for this class next fall, you’ll make a commitment to be there each week no matter what papers or tests you have.

How about an extra CCA on the character of American generals? Even though you’ll fulfill your core requirement for this your sophomore year, you’ll take two more CCA classes just for fun. It’s a great way to learn more about niche topics not covered in traditional classes for relatively little work compared to your average three-credit class. Furthermore, the CCAs are a great opportunity to get to know visitors who travel across the country to visit campus. They have incredible stories too and are so interested in hearing stories from students, giving career advice, and even helping us find jobs.

How about an honors seminar comparing American and British government structures? It sounds like a staple course in a heavy comparative politics program, but the homework for that class was watching episodes of The Crown and West Wing. We then discussed the difference between a president, prime minister, and a queen as a small group of five students. The atmosphere in this classroom was casual and inquisitive; the professor didn’t lecture but rather led a conversation. Overall, the course felt less like schoolwork and more like hanging out with friends after work.

These are the classes people often overlook in their anxiety to finish the core curriculum and graduate on time. But the truth is you can do both of those things while also indulging yourself in something you enjoy and satisfying your curiosity for the subjects hidden in one-hour slots throughout the week.

Student Callie Stoub Callie Stoub, ’21, hails from the Southwestern corner of Michigan, best known for its beaches along Lake Michigan, and studies history. When she’s not reminiscing on her time at Hillsdale, you may find her diagramming sentences for fun or experimenting with creative omelet recipes.

Published in January 2021