For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Aug 10 2016
by Jake Smith

The 4 Best Ways to Stay Informed in College

By Jake Smith - Aug 10 2016

In less than a month, we’re going to have almost entirely new lives. New friends, new classes, new relationships, new jobs and new schedules are going to dominate daily life until they aren’t new anymore. With everything else going on in our lives, it’s easy to understand why college students can be so insulated from the outside world. College is pretty much all about expanding your view of the world, so it’s important to become a person who at least follows the news. This list contains the easiest, most effective ways to stay informed and aware of news events, from right outside your door to the other side of the world.

1. Use social media to your advantage.

In the frenzy of new people to friend across social media, it’s really easy to follow a few respected news sites too. The New York Times is an obvious choice, but for people who don’t want to pay for a subscription, hundreds of other news sites work just as well. My personal favorites are New York Magazine, Vox, The Daily Beast and NPR. Newswires like Reuters and the Associated Press are also very good and free of bias. Make sure you follow local news services, like your college town’s mayor, accounts that aggregate articles and events specific to your area and regional newspapers. Your college might also have a local Fresh U chapter that you can find on social media for news more specific to campus.

2. Take advantage of student discounts.

For those of you who want to kick back and enjoy an actual newspaper in front of you, your college email address is a lifesaver. The New York Times offers discounts that vary by zip code. Once you subscribe, you’ll have access to both print copies and their entire site (including their trove of crossword puzzles) instead of the standard ten free articles per month. The Wall Street Journal allows students to pay as low as $1 per week for up to 15 weeks to receive print and digital access. A student subscription to The Economist comes in at $1.88 per week and includes both print and digital media. If you don’t have the money to spare, check if your college offers free newspapers to students. A great source of free print news is also the (likely) multiple publications produced on campus specifically for college students that feature high-quality, accessible journalism every day.

3. Sign up for a daily newsletter.

Instead of searching for news, you can start each morning with a summary of everything you need to know that day with an email news service. After you sign up, theSkimm will deliver a condensed version of yesterday’s big news and today’s headlines to your inbox every weekday morning, with a (sometimes pained) humorous spin. If you prefer a more straightforward news delivery service, Fresh Intelligence from New York Magazine is for you. It might be somewhat less in-depth than theSkimm, but it features wider coverage of news events, weather, business and internet culture.

4. Subscribe to a few podcasts.

The medium of podcasting has undergone quite a renaissance in the past few years. What started as a niche format quickly became an addiction for many with the rise of Sarah Koenig’s Serial. Since then, world-class journalists have flocked to podcasts, producing essential material each day. Fresh Air, Planet Money and On the Media each cover current events and culture. To keep up with politics, NPR Politics Podcast and Slate’s Political Gabfest produce coverage of the horserace with conversational ease. Also consider Revisionist History, This American Life, Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, Code Switch and Invisibilia for content that’s less rooted in traditional news and extends into insightful analysis of humanity. Podcasts are also perfect for active students. Listen to one every time you go on a run or take the bus and you’ll be instantly more aware of the news.

It can be hard to remember that there’s a world outside of campus, but with these resources, you’ll be up-to-date on almost everything. College exists for you to question your beliefs and engage with the world, so stay informed and give yourself the best chance to succeed.

Lead Image Credit: WOCinTech via Flickr Creative Commons

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Jake Smith - Syracuse University

Jake Smith is a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in magazine journalism. He watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter @seitzonsuccess.

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