Hillsdale has more students training to be Marine officers than any other college or university in Michigan, according to the Marine’s Ann Arbor Officer Selection Station.
The college has 10 candidates involved in Platoon Leadership Class while Michigan State University, the school with the next-highest number of candidates, has seven. The University of Michigan has three.
When looking at the percentage of undergraduates involved in PLC at each school, Hillsdale far exceeds other institutions. If UM and MSU had the same percentage of students involved as Hillsdale, they would produce 202 and 279 PLC candidates respectively.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dominic Freda believes such a large number of Hillsdale students are involved with PLC because so many of its students have a desire to serve and give back to their country.
“Those with a Hillsdale degree, they have options, but serving is one of those big ones,” Freda said.
And according to Freda, Hillsdale doesn’t just produce a large quantity of candidates, but also a high quality of candidate.
“One thing that we know that’s coming out of Hillsdale is that they believe in the Constitution and that they’re morally, mentally, and physically capable,” Freda said.
PLC is an officer training program for freshman, sophomore, and junior college students interested in becoming officers in the Marines. Candidates who successfully complete the program have the opportunity to accept a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. During the summers before their senior year, candidates must complete six- or 10-week officer candidate schools.
Before enrolling in Hillsdale, sophomore Josh Bailey took a gap year when he wasn’t accepted into the Naval Academy. In his first semester at the college, Bailey signed on with PLC.
“The military has been on my mind for a long time,” he said. “I was actually thinking about enlisting during high school and going into the reserves during college, but my parents didn’t want me to do that.”
One of the reasons Hillsdale has so many students who become PLC candidates is because of the type of student it attracts — the type of people Bailey describes as patriots. A lot of students considered military academies before coming to Hillsdale, he said.
Another reason Bailey believes Hillsdale has so many PLC candidates is that students here hold a common value with the Marines: “to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic.”
Sophomore Aubrey Brown said she knew she wanted to be in the military since she was young and enjoys the different type of experience she has in PLC than she wouldn’t otherwise get as a part of her cheer team or with her Chi Omega sorority sisters.
“In my PLC program I’m hanging out with a lot of boys doing a lot of pushups, where in sorority life I’m wearing high heels and hanging out with girls,” Brown said. “But they’re more similar than they are different, the sisterhood and the brotherhood.”
Brown said she sees discipline as a value shared by both Hillsdale and the Marines.
Brown also said when Hillsdale’s PLC candidates go to monthly “pool” events with other Michigan college students involved in PLC, the Hillsdale candidates stand out.
“We carry ourselves a way other students don’t,” Brown said. “There’s an air of confidence that I think a lot of other students don’t have.”
Freda agreed with Brown.
“Generally when they’re in a group, the Hillsdale guy is the one that wants to step up and lead the group,” he said.
And while Hillsdale students often lead at pool events and Brown said Hillsdale’s PLC candidates are a close-knit group, she also said they’re willing to help candidates from other schools.
“Hillsdale students go out of their ways to help the other poolees,” she said.