Western Carolina is not one of the best-known schools in the state. In fact, many people don’t even know where Cullowhee is. Yet, Western definitely has its selling points, most of which get overlooked in the rush, by some, to bash the school. And what would surprise most people is that many of the negatives they see in the school are really positives they haven’t yet learned to appreciate. First, Western is in the middle of nowhere. This is usually seen as a negative, but it’s not. I chose to come to Western precisely because it’s far from anywhere else. I can try out whatever identities I’d like while I’m here and have virtually no consequences. Go Goth for a semester? Why not? Skip showers? Who cares? Freedom can come in many shapes and forms, but other people are like black holes when it comes to freedom. They usually suck it up, never to be seen again. The only time people don’t inhibit one’s freedom is when you’ll never see them again. Unless you just fall in love with the beauty of Western North Carolina (which is certainly a possibility) and want to spend the rest of your life here, you’re completely free to be whoever you want to be. As Chef from South Park used to say, “There is a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.” Speaking of people, the second benefit of Western is the tiny student body. Obviously it’s grown a lot in the past few years, but it’s still one of the smaller campuses in the state. Most professors remember their students because there are so few in their classes. Many students even have one or two favored professors they take most of their classes with. Personally, I’m partial to Dr. Hoyt and Dr. McLaughlin. Because of the small class sizes, you don’t have to compete with a gazillion other students for a professor’s attention when you need it to really understand the material and get that ‘A’. It makes the educational opportunities at Western significantly better than at most other university campuses. Western is also one of the least expensive schools in the UNC system. Now, for many people, paying a little more for an education is considered a good investment, but think about what I just said. At other colleges, you have to compete for the help you need to succeed. And you pay more. Crappy service, higher prices-somehow, that just doesn’t sound like a good deal. If you can afford Harvard, Yale, or Cornell (and get in), it makes sense to go there. They have killer name recognition. But for your run-of-the-mill university, Western’s name is just as well known and not nearly as expensive. Don’t waste more money that you ultimately have to pay back for a worse education. Now, while Western is in the middle of nowhere, it’s a pretty nice-looking nowhere. It has the beauty of the mountains, trees, and crystal-clear streams. There is the charm of a small-town within an hour and a half of three major metropolitan centers. Oh, and let’s not forget fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing, and just about every other kind of outdoor activity imaginable. If you’re not much of an outdoors person, Western is a great opportunity to change that. Where else will you be able to try so many activities at once and find the one that’s just right for you? Of course, it’ll probably take more than a year to try them all, so this is one more reason to give Western a chance.And last but not least, Western is virtually a frat-free zone. We do have some fraternities and sororities, and many of the popular ones are decent as fraternities go. We even have a few that are specifically geared at those of you who are more interested in hanging out now rather than having something extra-spiffy to put on your resume in a few years. But at Western, the frats don’t rule the school the way they do at other universities. It’s perfectly possible to have a good college career without being in a frat. At other schools, that’s not always the case, at least if you want access to any of the good parties. Where else can you go to get all of these benefits: a good education for a reasonable cost, no one that you’ll ever have to see again, and all of the beauty and charm of Western North Carolina. I think Western is how most college’s should be. Now, if we could just get a nightclub to move into the area, we’d be set.