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Freshmen enjoy Welcome Party at the end of ori­en­tation. Courtesy | Student Activ­ities Board

Hillsdale College has just enrolled the biggest and most selective freshman class in its history. 

The admission rate dropped to a record low 23%, a 13% decrease from last year. 

The class of 2025 boasts an all-time high of 427 freshmen, approx­i­mately 70 more stu­dents than the class of 2024. The admis­sions office reviewed a record 3,300 appli­ca­tions, according to its pre­lim­inary statistics.

“As Hillsdale becomes more well-known nationally for the type of edu­cation that we give and the prin­ciples that we stand for, more people are attracted to that in today’s climate and culture of higher edu­cation,” Zachary Miller ’11, senior director of admis­sions, said.

He also noted that Hillsdale’s decision to resume in-person classes in the fall of 2020 con­tributed to more attraction.

“This made a statement to a lot of stu­dents who were seeking that for their college expe­rience,” he said. 

The incoming freshmen class — 201 men and 226 women — have record-breaking cre­den­tials, with an average GPA of 3.93 and an average ACT score of 32. This score is an entire point higher than last year’s, although the admis­sions process did not require a stan­dardized test as part of the admission process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The class rep­re­sents 41 states and six foreign coun­tries, including Italy and Finland, with roughly 23% coming from Michigan. Last year, 27% of freshmen were Michiganders. 

Diane Philipp, vice pres­ident of student affairs, said that in response to the high number of freshmen, the college chose to house incoming stu­dents in loca­tions that min­i­mized dis­placing res­i­dents who wanted to return to their pre­vious res­i­dence hall or room. For instance, Koon switched from a men’s dorm to a women’s dorm and The Suites became male-only housing. More stu­dents moved off-campus this year, including sopho­mores who typ­i­cally are not granted off-campus permission. 

“It’s nice to have the freedom of living in your own house, but it’s also teaching me important skills such as paying bills and working with a landlord,” off-campus sophomore Alex Mitchell said. 

Philipp said that the cafe­teria will be expanding mobile ordering app usage to avoid over­crowding in the Knorr Family Dining Hall.

“Grab and Go will still be available in Kendall,” Philipp said. “We also placed the outdoor tent on the quad during these warmer August and Sep­tember days so stu­dents could gather there to eat, study, or just hangout.”

Maddie Conover ’18, assistant director of upper Midwest recruitment, said appli­cants for the class of 2025 were likely attracted to Hillsdale because it stayed open when other schools did not.

“Because of the pan­demic, stu­dents had to evaluate schools based on a new cri­teria, so I think more stu­dents were attracted to Hillsdale because they knew it would be in-person,” Conover said.

Conover said she looks for a love of aca­d­emics and edu­cation beyond the util­i­tarian level in Hillsdale applicants. 

Though the admis­sions office has a larger and more qual­ified pool of appli­cants from which to choose, it is still looking for the same things in the type of stu­dents it hopes to attract, according to Miller. 

“We look for a student who is aca­d­e­m­i­cally pre­pared for the rigors of a clas­sical liberal arts edu­cation,” Miller said. “One who demon­strates that they are aca­d­e­m­i­cally and intel­lec­tually curious. Stu­dents who love learning and want to embrace the type of thing that we do here.” 

Miller said the admis­sions office also seeks stu­dents who are involved in their school, church, and com­munity as such com­mitment demon­strates what they will con­tribute to the Hillsdale community. 

“We want stu­dents who have a heart for service and who want to make a dif­ference and an impact because that’s what we are looking for stu­dents to do on the Hillsdale campus,” Miller said. “Finally, we’re looking for stu­dents who are going to be con­sci­en­tious cit­izens who under­stand, appre­ciate, and will abide by the Honor Code: stu­dents who will make Hillsdale proud by doing great things in their own respective com­mu­nities after they graduate.”