Nolan Sul­livan grew up in Hillsdale and now attends Hillsdale College. Courtesy Nolan Sul­livan.

For many stu­dents, going to college means moving to another state and cul­ti­vating a new set of friends a in a com­pletely new com­munity. 

But some stu­dents at Hillsdale College spent their K‑12 years only minutes away at Hillsdale Academy or in the Hillsdale Public Schools. For them, college has a unique meaning.

Spending your college years only a few short miles from where you grew up is an excep­tional oppor­tunity, one which many stu­dents take full advantage of.

One such student, freshman Gretchen Birzer, said she enjoys fur­thering her edu­cation while still remaining closely con­nected with her family.

“It’s really nice having family nearby and just having come here already knowing what’s going on and where every­thing is,” Birzer said. “I def­i­nitely like it. It’s nice to just go home for dinner when I need to, and it really helps at the beginning of the first semester. I think the tran­sition is a lot easier because they were so close by.”

While some stu­dents enjoy the ease with which they can visit their fam­ilies, which Birzer does about once a week, others, like sophomore Nolan Sul­livan, make a spe­cific effort not to see their parents as much. 

“That’s some­thing that I talked about with my parents before I came to college,” Sul­livan said. “I want to make it an inde­pendent college expe­rience. I love my parents, but I wasn’t going to live at home and miss out on the expe­rience of really being on campus.”

Prox­imity to home isn’t the only thing that makes home-grown stu­dents’ expe­ri­ences at Hillsdale unique. Going through their primary edu­cation with friends who now attend Hillsdale lessens the dif­fi­culty of cre­ating an entirely new social circle. This is espe­cially true since Hillsdale is a small com­munity in which the idea that “everyone knows everyone else” truly applies. 

“A lot of these guys, I’ve known them and their fam­ilies for as long as I can remember,” Sul­livan said, “so it’s kind of funny to take my friend’s dad in a class.”

However, friend­ships formed before college don’t apply only to fellow stu­dents.

“Me and Dr. Calvert, we have this hand­shake that we’ve done with each other since I was in seventh grade,” Sul­livan said. “And we still do it now and then when we see each other.”

Sul­livan main­tains that the Academy is an excellent school, and he credits it with forming many of the friend­ships he has now.

“Big thanks to the Academy. I love that school with all my heart,” Sul­livan said. “They’ve given me the best friends I’ll ever have, and a lot of them are here with me at Hillsdale.”

Junior Logan Tharp said that home-grown stu­dents of Hillsdale are in a unique and won­derful sit­u­ation. 

“I have the best of both worlds at Hillsdale,” Tharp said. “I have the feeling of being home and remaining con­nected to friends and people I knew before college, but at the same time, I have every­thing that college has to offer.”