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.”