A hidden treasure lies just 68 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. Behind a little neighborhood, off of Michigan Highway 99, Hillsdale College sits upon a hill overlooking the city.
Each of its students tells his or her unique story about what led them to this place, and each has their own reasons as to why this place holds their heart. But they all boil down to the fact that Hillsdale College brings together people from all over the world and wraps them in a campus and community that students and professors alike call home.
The memories made at each spot on the little campus of Hillsdale form this home away from home that makes the long nights of hard work all worthwhile.
Those who know Hillsdale love it for all that it embodies. Here’s a little glimpse.
1. Central Hall
In the middle of campus sits picturesque Central Hall. A beautiful bell tower sits atop this building that was originally built in 1853. Walking to classes and falling asleep at night in the dorms just wouldn’t be the same without the chimes at every quarter-hour; a familiar call to study and persevere through the thick of it.
Central Hall also serves as every Hillsdale girl’s “engagement location goal”. Getting proposed to overlooking the campus where you spent the best days of your life? Yes, please.
2. AJ’s Cafe
Whether it’s the chicken quesadillas or the after-exam ice cream scoop, the curly fries or the essential coffee fix, AJ’s is another environment that makes Hillsdale, Hillsdale. At any hour students can be found studying or simply enjoying one another’s company.
The place where every Hillsdale couple had their first date and where chess club takes over the tables on Friday afternoons; where someone is always talking too loud and where The Collegian is spread out over multiple tables; where the tables are so close together that one can hear the latest gossip whether they like it or not; AJ’s is the melting pot of Hillsdale culture.
3. Knorr Family Dining Room
Let’s face it, Hillsdale is a place where students can walk in the Cafeteria — affectionately named “Saga” after the food provider prior to today’s Bon Appetit — anytime and can guarantee that they will recognize a familiar face. For those meals that turned from half-hour conversations to let’s‑fit-20-people at this one table and laugh until we cry until we get kicked out, Saga serves a crucial part of the Hillsdale experience.
It’s the underlying assigned seats that form this community. The long tables to the left are reserved for the athletes, the booths for the “Hillsdating” couples and those meeting with professors, the dorms, sororities and fraternities, and Arts people take over the round tables, and who even knows who sits in the long tables to the far right.
From Taco Tuesdays to Pasta Bar Fridays to Omelettes for Brunch on the weekends, Saga is just an extension of your mom’s home cooking, or isn’t it?
4. Student Population
Sitting at 1,490 undergraduates, Hillsdale is categorized as a “small college.”
Everyone knows everyone’s business, which can be good, or bad.
Fitting in line with the typical Caucasian middle-class conservative stereotype, it makes sense that one can find at least twenty guys with the name Joshua or Alexander and twenty girls with the name Catherine/Katherine and another dozen girls named Erin.
Students can expect to recognize 90 percent of the people they walk by on their way to class and often exchange a smile with that person they don’t know, but always smile at anyway. And it is this smile that goes from one person to the next and gives Hillsdale some of the happiest students.
5. The Library
Part of the Hillsdale experience is a rigorous education that often permeates into every aspect of the Hillsdale student’s life. One example of this is the campus library. Having three levels, starting with the ground level and descending, this serves as the perfect spot to spend thousands of hours pursuing one’s degree.
Required reading of the first Great Books Course, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” serves as the inspiration for the names of these three levels: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
Heaven allows for quiet talking which occasionally turns into roars of laughter from those groups in the middle tables who have way too much fun in the library. Purgatory is mostly silent and still has the windows allowing some sunlight to shine upon the studious. But it’s Hell that one dare not speak or even open their mouth, let alone breathe. People only ever go in when they have a paper due tomorrow that they haven’t started…and heaven only knows if they come out alive.