Getting Along with the College’s Motto

Written by Meghan Schultz

Applying to college is an intimidating process, and Hillsdale intimidated me more than any of the rest. I grew up hearing glowing reviews of Hillsdale from my mother, an alumna, but the closer I grew to the application deadline, the more uncertain I became. This school would undeniably be difficult. My friend Mary, even as she told me how much her sister loved Hillsdale, admitted, “She’s always doing homework.”

I worked hard during my four years of high school, but “virtus tentamine gaudet”—strength rejoices in the challenge—while a wonderful phrase, sounded a bit nerve-wracking to this unsure high school senior. However, when the end of December began to draw closer, I applied. As much as another four years of hard work intimidated me, I quickly realized that no matter who I asked to share with me their experience of Hillsdale College, I had yet to find one person willing to speak badly of it.

The people I spoke to told me their joys and challenges throughout their four years, and recounted it all with faces shining, eyes bright with the memories of a school dedicated to the good, true, and beautiful. Whenever speaking of the challenging work ethic at the College, “Oh yeah—it’s a lot,” was immediately followed by, “But it’s so, so good.” Virtus tentamine gaudet, for Hillsdalians, was a unifying motto and the College’s promise of commitment to their education, rather than something to fear.

Finally visiting the College for a weekend sealed the deal. It was a snowy, rainy, windy February, yet somehow the campus filled up with charm, friendship, and new ideas. Dr. Stephen Smith contemplated “wisdom and wonder” as I attempted to write down every Shakespeare quote he dropped. At a comedy night in Simpson Residence, I sat beside my host, Riley, laughing as students happily acted out different improv games. Mealtimes consisted of stories of sibling antics, desserts, and laughter. The professors’ passion for their subjects, authenticity of students, and natural campus camaraderie made the school a home for the weekend. I realized that if my only remaining hesitation about Hillsdale was that it would be difficult, that wasn’t a good enough reason for me to not attend.

Now, as my second semester at Hillsdale begins, I am glad to say that I am more than happy with my decision. I’m even more glad to say that I am not always doing homework. I remember the last day of my first visit to Hillsdale, when I was no longer nervous but excited to return to a place that had already begun to feel like home. Now I have experienced the late night studying mixed with plenty of laughter and breaks to watch The Office and making pizza rolls in the dorm at midnight. I have watched as my classmates joyfully rise to the challenge of a life full of good work and fun. After plenty of happy memories with new friends, and plenty of (rewarding) hours spent poring over the Western Heritage reader, virtus tentamine gaudet and I get along just fine.

Meghan Schultz, 23, is an English major who loves a cup of coffee and a good story, preferably together. A Michigan native who appreciates fall drives and summer days at the lake, she aspires to be a book editor and enjoys working in youth ministry.

Published in April 2020

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