September Possibilities


Okay, it’s September.

The academic year is just getting going. You’ve moved in and retrieved your various belongings from storage or the Eustis mailroom, and you may have even gotten to the point of negotiating whose posters and tapestries go on which walls (always making sure not to obstruct a smoke detector or sprinkler head!). You’ve bought your books and notebooks and loaded credit onto your Colby card. You’ve gotten through the first day of class in each of your courses and you’ve made that first sojourn to the library (or the lounge down the hall or wherever it is that you go to study) and you’re starting to figure out the rhythms of your daily schedule.

So, how’s it going? How are you doing?

Is college what you hoped and expected it would be? Is Colby?

Seriously. I’m not trying to be cute. And I’m not asking because I actually expect all 1800 of you to shoot me a quick email with your answers to the questions posed above. (But hey, if you want to that’s okay too. That’s what I’m here for.)

Really what I want is for you to take some time now - at the outset of the year - to think about what it is that you want to take away from your Colby experience. Think about why you’re here, how you came to be here, where you hope to go, and what you need to do to get there.

One of the most awesome and amazing things about going to college is that you get to define it for yourself. You get to decide what you will study and how you will spend your time out of class and who your friends will be and what matters to you. You determine if and when you’re going to read your U.S. history assignment and how much time you’re going to put into it - though at better than $56,000 a year it’s probably a safe bet that your family might have some influence over how you choose to make those decisions. But ultimately you control what Colby will be for you. In the end, you choose your path at Colby.

It sounds easy -  like opening your sock drawer in the morning and deciding that today is an argyle day and just going for it. It sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s not easy is because getting it right takes a lot of thought and care and reflection. Just picking courses is easy. Ending up in a major because, you know, the intro class was sorta cool and Prof. So-and-so is nice and the times when most of the philosophy courses are offered fit well in your schedule is easy. Hanging out with the same small circle of people and eating at the same table in the same dining hall every night and doing the same things most every weekend because that’s what you do is easy.

Getting it right is hard.

But because you choose your path, you can also choose to change your path.

The point is your education - your Colby experience - is necessarily dynamic and changing.  The point is it’s not enough to simply show up as a first-year and just take classes and choose a major and do some activities and hope that at the end of four years it all makes sense. The point is you need to ask yourself how it’s going and how you’re doing and if you’re getting out of Colby all that you hope and expect. The point is you have to constantly evaluate and rethink and question and consider whether the path you chose two years ago or last week, or the path you will choose tomorrow or next month, is the right one. And you need to keep asking yourself these and other hard questions and keep exploring new options and keep making adjustments and keep seizing every ounce of opportunity that Colby has to offer.

There are lots of us - advisors, faculty, deans, coaches, and counselors - who are here to help. But the work is on you.

It’s September. It’s the start of a new year. And regardless of whether it’s your first September on Mayflower Hill, or your second, third, fourth, or seventh (as it is for me), the year ahead offers a fresh start and new opportunities and possibilities you may not have even imagined could exist.

So, how’s it going?

Jim Terhune
Dean of Students


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