A Visit to Hillsdale College

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By Sue Luse

History & Values


Hillsdale College is an independent non-sectarian liberal arts college rich in history and tradition, located in rural southern Michigan. Founded in 1844 by a group of men and women of the Free Will Baptists, this small college prides itself on sound learning and maintaining independence. Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin. They do not accept federal funds or use FAFSA, but rather offer their own financial aid. It has been referred to as “the conservative Harvard” – besides competitive academics, there is a strong conservative and Christian presence on campus. Students of all backgrounds are welcome if they embrace an education that pursues truth, critical thinking, and self-governance. Professors encourage students to think, discuss, and get involved in the community. Hillsdale is a lower income town of 8,000 people, so local volunteer work is strongly emphasized. Courses are very structured and writing intensive – popular areas of study include history, English, and biology. If a majority of these values align with your own, Hillsdale College is certainly a premier choice.


  • Discussions and debates are promoted in the classroom in the attempt to expand a student’s way of thinking
  • Every student is required to take a class on the constitution – they are not told how to vote, but to vote
  • In the humanities, there are no textbooks – they provide published sources from a variety of acclaimed authors
  • “Great Books” courses cover classic literature and are available online
  • Intercollegiate Study Institute books are promoted, which foster awareness of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and traditional values
  • Average class size is 15 and the student to faculty ratio is ideal at 10:1

Student Life

  • There are 1,400 students with 47% male and 53% female
  • Besides beautiful landscaping, the elegant campus buildings are made up of both historic and modern architecture emphasizing the feeling that the Hillsdale mission encompasses: “a window to the past and a gateway to the future.”
  • Only about one third of the students are from Michigan, the remainder representing 47 other states and 8 foreign countries
  • Around 100 student organizations, the most popular are Hillsdale Christian Fellowship, Orchestras and Choirs, Debate Club, Town Players (theater), Academic Honorary Societies, Coffeehouses, and Intramural Sports
  • Dorms are not co-ed and there is also Greek housing off-campus – about one-third of students are a part of Greek Life
  • Hillsdale is a Division II member and both the students and community support sporting events
  • Homecoming is a huge tradition, as well as climbing the clock tower


  • The Hillsdale College (online & paper) Application has no questions about race or religion
  • The Common App can be also be submitted
  • Two academic letters of recommendation are required
  • Average ACT is 29 and GPA of 3.8
  • Alumni Interviews are highly recommended

Cost & Financial Aid

  • Cost of attendance is significantly less that competing nationally-ranked, private liberal arts school
  • Total cost is $34,352 but almost all students receive some form of aid through scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment
  • The average aid package offered during 2014 was $16,700
Hillsdale-8Hillsdale-5Hillsdale-4Sue at Hillsdale

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