Choosing A Tiny School With Harsh Regulations
Both of my parents went to Michigan State University in the 1980s and I exited the womb a diehard Spartan fan. Michigan State hoops have been one of the most successful programs in the country for my entire life, the football team for the past decade or so has been a consistent contender for the Big Ten title, and no other college sports matter. Combining triumphant sports teams with the sterling reputation of a school like Michigan State made it easy to don the green and white in the fall and spring.
By the time April of my senior year of high school rolled around, I was still completely unsure of where I wanted to further my education. I had narrowed it down to two schools: Michigan State University (enrollment of 50,344) and Hillsdale College (enrollment of 1,512). For most people, the obvious choice would be to call East Lansing home for the next four years; Big Ten tailgates every Saturday, parties five nights a week, and Tom Izzo coaching All-Americans in the Breslin Center. Hillsdale’s biggest draw for incoming students was and still is its “rigorous core curriculum,” which equates to four semesters of classes that are necessary for graduation on top of all major/minor classes.
The nationwide college declaration date was less than a week away and I still had yet to decide where I would call home. On one hand, there were 30,000 chicks between the ages of 18 and 22, on the other hand, there was a tiny school in the middle of nowhere that was ranked the 10th worst party school in the country by Complex. Ugh, decisions, decisions.
A few more days passed by and I forced myself to make a decision. If I waited any longer, I was at risk of losing my (massive) academic scholarship to either school. I took a nap, and when I woke up I reached the conclusion that most 18-year-old guys in my position would’ve made: Hillsdale College over Michigan State. My parents were thrilled, my friends were shocked because when I told them where I was going it was the first time they had ever heard of Hillsdale.
If you don’t know anything about Hillsdale, here’s a quick rundown: Hillsdale College is located in the city of Hillsdale in Hillsdale County in south-central Michigan. When I was touring Hillsdale as a high school student, I was told the enticing statistics that Hillsdale County boasts the highest rates of meth and heroin usage, as well as incest in the state of Michigan. Say what you will about Hillsdale, but they know how to party. If that isn’t enough, the sign when you enter Hillsdale reads Hillsdale: It’s the People, which roughly translates to what you’re about to see probably won’t be super pretty to look at, but at least while you’re here the locals will give you any directions that you need to get out of here as quickly as possible and then they’ll smile at you with a mug that more resembles a broken and rusted zipper than a mouth.
Hillsdale County is so rinky-dink that when the college renovated its conference center in 2015, the add-ons included the first escalator in the history of the county.
Overall, my experience at Hillsdale has been an awesome one. I am getting a world-class education and making some unbelievable friends. I’m sure part of the reason why everyone gets along pretty well is because we are all trapped at one of the smallest schools in the country with no real escape because the only road outside of town is a one-lane dirt trail that goes through the middle of the woods, but I digress.
Despite all of the good things that Hillsdale has to offer, there are some eccentricities (to put it lightly) that make the school difficult to cope with; to name a few: visiting hours in dorms, mandatory meal plans, and parent-professor conferences.
On Tuesdays, guys are only allowed to be in a girl’s room until 11pm. The same goes for ladies in a guy’s room on Wednesdays. On Mondays and Thursdays, you better find somewhere else to make-out because you are not allowed in a room of the opposite sex. Fridays and Saturdays are a little more lenient, all rooms are open until 1am, but on Sundays the rooms are closed to someone with different engineering at 5pm.
Mandatory Meal Plans
Students are required to buy at least 100 meals per semester from the dining hall. The college creates an obligation for upper-classmen to go to the dining hall even if they live off-campus. If they don’t they will be throwing paper down the toilet.
This one is super self-explanatory. Every semester during parents weekend, parents have the option to sit down with their child’s professors and get a report on how they are doing in class. You thought this became obsolete after high school? Think again! It only makes sense that a college the size of a high school treats its students as though they still live with their parents.