Originally known as Michigan Central College when it opened its doors in 1844, Hillsdale College was officially called such when move to Hillsdale, Michigan in 1853. Begun with the backing of the Freewill Baptists, it was immediately distinguished due to its policy of equality, specifically prohibiting discrimination of any sort in its charter, a rare thing at the time (though in keeping with the anti-slavery/equality stance of the Freewill Baptists). It was one of the only colleges willing to accept blacks at the time (and for some time after) and was on the forefront of women’s education as well, offering four year degrees from the start.
Today, that history of equality still permeates through all facets of Hillsdale College; has in fact continued to mark it throughout its history as a battle ground for equal rights. Located on 200 acres in south-central Michigan, Hillsdale has spent most of its history fighting for the right to count all races/religions/sexes as students and to view them all as such (this led to numerous court battles over financial aid and the such, leading eventually to Hillsdale no longer accepting Michigan federal aid money and, instead, supplying aid on its own to students as of 1984 through private contributors).
To put it simply, Hillsdale is committed to educating any looking for education. They currently enroll about 1,400 students, offering them a four year liberal arts education ending in a Bachelor degree in either the Sciences or the Arts, as well as certificates and pre-professional programs, in 30 or so different majors. Though they offer no online degrees, they do offer a 10:1 student faculty ratio, utilizing small class sizes to develop personal relationships with students.
At Hillsdale, students are taught that a “liberal education…entails the study of… things good, true, and beautiful”. Their core liberal arts education stresses that learning of “abilities and wisdoms necessary to leading humane lives”, again striving to ensure that graduates aren’t just educated, but taught to appreciate the world around them and use education to make it better. It’s no surprise that popular majors include Education, History, and Social Sciences, areas where a sound, humane education can lead to major improvements in the world’s quality of life.
Its dedication to students is highlighted by a 97% freshman retention rate (the same percentage go on to graduate school or careers in their field within six months) and it offers off campus/study abroad programs to allow for a diverse learning environment and experiential, hands on learning. Programs for studying abroad range from Intensive Language Summer School in France, to a Journalism Intern Program, to a DC program whereby a student spends a semester working in Washington in an intern capacity full time, while taking a couple classes that coincide with their field of study/work (usually government policy course both domestic and foreign).
Hillsdale has survived by holding fast to its principles and valuing their students first, looking to teach the youth of tomorrow the beauty inherent in the world around them and how to ensure to it too survives and strengthens. Putting education above the petty details, Hillsdale remains a bastion of liberal arts education, one often awarded and still imitated as a model for success.