Students at Washington College have an excess of opportunities when it comes to expanding their horizons.
This may seem ironic when considering the small town in which the campus is located. But looking at the various resources that the college puts at the disposal of its students, it is not difficult to understand why students are able to receive a greater-than-college experience.
Between the study-abroad programs, the internships of which the Career Center routinely informs students, and the clubs and organizations that reach beyond the classroom walls, students are continuously afforded the chance to see themselves as unique individuals in the context of the real world.
One student who attended the seminar in Cuba offered every summer by the college said he was able to return with a greater understanding of the focus of his thesis. But more importantly, he also said he felt more independent.
Students who attend the summer literary program in England's Kiplin Hall write journal entries throughout the trip. This is not just to assess their writing skills.
Students return with stories of experience.
These are the types of stories told on a regular basis during student presentations for the Society of Junior Fellows, an honor society which allows students to apply for grants in order to seek their dreams.
These are the stories that have been told by the Model United Nations students who just returned from a conference at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Many said they returned with a greater sense of confidence in themselves and a better understanding of the way the world works, as well as how to relate with others.
This is also the story of Dennis Wilson whose semester abroad in South Africa, paired with the realization that AIDS might virtually wipe out the township he visited within the next dozen years, led him to believe in something and become part of a cause by participating in an HIV/AIDS bike-a-thon.
We as students have opportunities beyond our wildest dreams.
It is safe to say that this is what college is all about - seeking and redefining ourselves and the world around us.
Even as we voice our concerns to the administration and the Board of Visitors and Governors, we are expanding ourselves as individuals by standing up for what we believe in.
Do not allow the smallness of this campus or the town surrounding it to overshadow what opportunities lie ahead.
Undoubtedly, students here have more chances for success and fulfillment than those on larger campuses simply because of the nurturing environment a smaller school offers.
It is the difference between a push and a shove from a professor to follow through with a chosen internship or semester abroad, and being ignored as a number by a professor who will never know his students' names.
What we learn at college comes not only from our academic classes but from our experiences both on and off campus and the with the people around us.
Here, we have the resources, the programs, the clubs, the organizations to push us in the right direction. And we have the encouraging environment.
We must use these things to find our place in the larger world and discover how we too can have an effect.