If you attend any college you will see plenty of activism and political activities occurring on and around your campus. Though the recent 2016 Presidential Election drew opinions out of almost every college student, that political spirit can die pretty fast. It's important to ensure that as a college student, you understand why you should follow politics closely and how they will directly affect your life both now and in your post-collegiate career.
1. Student Debt
This is pretty obvious. One of the big pulling points for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was his goal to give all Americans access to a free public college education. Now, speaking as a student at a highly expensive private college, this wouldn't apply to me. But for those at a state school or public schools, this is a political issue that will dramatically change the education levels in America and the post-college success rate.
Many college students are still living under their parent's healthcare benefits, but even those who are soon will be in charge of their own healthcare and insurance. With all this talk of ObamaCare and TrumpCare, college students should think about what kind of healthy future they are looking to have.
3. Minimum Wage
The majority of college students find their income through a minimum wage job. The minimum wage in America has been a fluctuating topic, with people debating whether it should be raised and how high. You may think that after college your minimum wage working days will be gone, but with such a high population of job-hungry post-grads, finding a well-paying job is much harder than one would think. In fact, 36% of college graduates end up living at home.
4. Human Rights
From women's rights to African American rights to LGBTQ+ rights to immigrants' rights, each and every person both in and out of college is affected. Even if you are a white upper-class Catholic male, I can promise you that someone in your life is being strongly impacted by the loss or achievement of their rights. As a college student, free access to contraceptives is an extremely important tool for you and your partner's safety. Equally important is your Pakistani friend's right to enter and leave this country as a legal citizen as they please, your Muslim friend's right to wear her hijab to class without getting slandered and your African American friend's ability to peacefully interact with police officers.
5. Don't be Fooled
If you are able to form your own opinions and strongly stand by them, you cannot be fooled by politicians, professors or your peers. It is incredibly important to stay informed and avoid being tricked into believing a false news story or incorrect statements made by a politician.
6. Free Speech
Especially in a classroom setting, free speech is something that many students thrive off of to learn and develop as well as to speak their mind. Not only that, but freedom of the press is what allows the majority of Americans to form opinions and inform themselves. America was born a free country, and with the recent comments made by government leaders that the media is an enemy of the people, it is imperative to stand up for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
7. Climate Change
This is easy. If the earth burns up, you're dead and everything that has been listed above no longer matters. Might as well stand up for the earth we live on and vote for politicians that are actively making efforts to save it.
8. Infinitely Applicable Knowledge
In paying attention to politics, you'll find that most of what you read or hear will end up coming out in conversation. Politics affects almost every aspect of your education, even literature (political satire) and medicine (healthcare). Staying informed of political activity will give you the most diverse and comprehensive education you can imagine.
College is a time for finding yourself, so why not find what you care strongly about? What problems do you see in your daily life, our society and our government? Inform yourself, read the news and ask questions. What can you do to make a difference?
10. The Future
Our generation is the generation that will be stepping into our current politicians', activists' and any other professionals' shoes. It is time for us to take this idea that was once far off in the future as a factual statement and aim to make a difference in our collegiate and professional careers. We are the future of this country, and this country is our country too.
Keeping up with the endless tumult of politics can be difficult, but it's important to know the main issues our government is dealing with at least on a weekly basis. One of the simplest ways to keep track of it all is through a multitude of apps you can download: FlipBoard, Digg, CNN, FOX, and more. You can easily turn on notifications for headlining news and other important news updates. Whether you're passionate about it or not, politics as a college student affects more than you could think of and keeping up to date with it has unparalleled academic and social benefits.
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