Hillsdale College’s one-year-old Collegiate Scholars Program is seeking applicants for its second class of students.
The program, formerly known as the Hillsdale Honors Program, offers seminars, campus lectures and discussions, retreats, trips abroad, and a senior thesis opportunity to accepted students. The program received a makeover in March 2016, changing its name, admissions policies, and academic requirements but retaining its purpose: to enrich students’ academic experience.
“The program is ideal for anyone who wishes to dig more deeply into the kinds of readings, ideas, and problems exemplified in the college’s core curriculum,” Program Director and Assistant Professor of Classical Studies Eric Hutchinson said. “In joining the program, you will be joining a group of highly motivated, inquisitive students and ongoing dialogue about the arts and sciences in the Western tradition.”
Unlike the Honors Program — which invited incoming freshmen to apply based on their standardized test scores, their resume, and three essays — the Collegiate Scholars Program considers students’ performance during their first two semesters at Hillsdale before admitting them.
As a result of waiting to admit freshmen, the Collegiate Scholars Program eliminated honors coursework. Formerly, honors students took honors sections of the Western and American heritages, Great Books I and II, and the U.S. Constitution.
Nevertheless, Collegiate Scholars Co-President junior Noah Weinrich said the program’s emphasis on learning, growth, and interdisciplinary study has remained strong.
“Freshmen should know that the program is not some massive time sink but is something that has really affected the course of study for many Collegiate Scholars,” Weinrich said. “We are a community above all else, and that is more important than the events and the seminars we sign up for. It has probably been the best use of my time at Hillsdale.”
The honors classwork had developed a close-knit community that defined the Honors Program, junior Anna Meckel said, expressing concerns that those bonds are weakening.
“Honors upperclassmen befriended me, offered advice, and passed down traditions and legends from previous years in the program,” Meckel said. “I took my core humanities classes with the same group of 30 honors students. Spending two years studying great books and heritage with a cohort of fellow students was an incredible opportunity and a great bonding experience.”
Senior Luke Zahari, former co-president of the Honors Program, agreed: “Our discussions went a little differently than a normal class of students, because we knew each other so well. We knew what everyone else was thinking whenever any issue came up in class.”
Sophomore Co-President Gill West, however, said the program provides him with the opportunity to get out of the busy schedule of a college student and focus on conversations within a serious intellectual community.
“I have a very strong group of friends within the program,” West said. “I have met some of the most thoughtful, serious, and intelligent people within this group, which makes me all the happier that I applied.”
Although West said it might be nice to take three-credit classes with his colleagues, he said he likes the freedom of planning his own schedule and thought that the Collegiate Scholars seminars provide the group with plenty of classes together.
Interested students with a GPA of 3.4 or higher may apply to Collegiate Scholars by submitting a resume, three faculty recommendations, and an essay answering the application’s question to Hutchinson by March 20.