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Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn addresses the incoming Freshman Class of 2023. Mar­keting Department | Courtesy

Once again, the incoming freshmen are the highest-per­forming class in Hillsdale College history. 

On paper, the Class of 2023 has the strongest aca­demic profile, according to the Admis­sions Department’s pre­lim­inary numbers.

The freshmen — 186 men and 178 women — have an average high school GPA of 3.91, up from last year’s 3.89. Their average ACT score, 31, was sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the pre­vious record of 30.26 in 2017.

As Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn said in his Freshman Con­vo­cation speech, the incoming class is full of “ambi­tious, active stu­dents.” 

But Arnn also reminded the freshmen that the Hillsdale expe­rience is much dif­ferent from — and harder than — other schooling.

“It’s not prac­tical to come here,” Arnn said. “You have to take yourself out of the world for four years. You have to make it with your whole heart, or else go some­where easier.”

The 364 members of the Class of 2023 fit in the college’s goal range of 360 – 380 stu­dents per class. The admission rate tied last year’s all-time low of 37%, a number which Senior Director of Admis­sions Zack Miller said can be attributed to the growing interest in Hillsdale from around the country.

“We haven’t changed the type of student that we are recruiting,” Miller said. “What has changed is Hillsdale’s pop­u­larity across the country and the number of inter­ested stu­dents in a clas­sical liberal arts edu­cation. Because there are no other schools like Hillsdale out there, we’re seeing more stu­dents want to attend.”

Although the per­centage of stu­dents from Michigan was not as low as last year’s record 25%, it remained lower than per­centages from the pre­vious 7 years at just 29%. The remaining 71% of the class comes from 37 other states and 8 other coun­tries.

Miller said that while interest and expe­ri­ences of incoming classes vary, they all share the college’s values.

“Even though the aca­demic profile of those stu­dents has increased over the last five years, what hasn’t changed is their com­mitment to Hillsdale’s mission, desire to pursue a rig­orous clas­sical liberal arts edu­cation, and excitement to involve them­selves in our campus com­munity,” he said.

Freshman Kate Lawson reit­erated this sen­timent, saying that she was attracted to Hillsdale because of the college’s com­mitment to their mission.

“Because my high school was affil­iated with Hillsdale, I got to expe­rience a bit of the college through my school and my teachers,” Lawson said. “So every other school I visited I was com­paring to Hillsdale, and I found that no other school I went to stated its mission as clearly, and fol­lowed through as deeply on it, as Hillsdale does.”

Freshman Nathaniel Balet said that when he visited, he was impressed with how dif­ferent Hillsdale was from other schools and how helpful the people were. 

“I talked to my admis­sions rep­re­sen­tative Vic­toria Watson a lot,” Balet said. “She was great. As she was going to Philadelphia, she even came out of her way to come to my school that is in the middle of nowhere in west Penn­syl­vania.”

Balet added that his campus tour guide, senior Isaac Johnson, was “the best tour guide I’d ever had.”  

“Isaac made me realize that most col­leges nowadays are more like a business, but Hillsdale is not that,” Balet said.

Lawson said her expe­rience with a former Hillsdale pro­fessor was just an example of the care that Hillsdale faculty and staff show their stu­dents.

“I asked Dr. Sam Negus ques­tions about the college before my first visit, and in response to my one question, he orga­nized my entire visit for me. And that’s just one example of what Hillsdale people will do, whether or not they are in Hillsdale.”