Take time to be politically aware

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

When it comes to college students and politics, things seem to go either one of two ways— the student has strong opinions about the current political situation, or the student has extremely vague knowledge of what is going on, if any at all.

Politics don’t have to be your new life passion and you don’t have to engage in constant debates with people, but as a college student, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what is going on in the United States and beyond.

It’s easy to make excuses for not being informed politically—some of the most common being that you’re too busy and don’t have enough time, that you “don’t like” politics or the worst, that certain situations don’t apply to you.

Not having to worry about or check into the current political situation is a privilege. Whether you feel a current issue “applies to you” or not, it’s important to be informed on the topic and about how the issue will affect various groups or minorities. In general, if an issue is not affecting you directly, it’s often because the system benefits you, and we owe it to groups not being fully cared for to stay alert to injustice or inequality in our nation.

Being knowledgeable about politics and current issues also makes you a more well-rounded person, especially when you do your best to read non-biased news sources and even sources that tend to disagree with your political beliefs.

Being informed also avoids the feeling associated with hearing others talk about politics and not feeling qualified or knowledgeable enough to participate. When we engage in conversation now, it can often be in a setting with other adults, and it’s a necessity to at least have a base-line knowledge about politics and world news. Being able to contribute and show awareness about the current political and world climate is a must in many social situations.

Becoming more politically informed doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. Taking just a few minutes out of your day to keep up on the most relevant political issues can be simple but effective. Many news sources, like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal for example, have discounted student subscriptions and easily accessible content on a variety of platforms. Many will also allow you to sign up for daily briefings or outlines, which provide quick descriptions or updates about current news and take about 10 minutes to read through.

Most college students use Twitter to stay informed politically, but should not be used alone. Unlike news sources, Twitter’s algorithm is tailored specifically to your interests. It is far less likely content that is unlike anything you have ever engaged with before will show up on your feed. When we like or retweet content that confirms our political beliefs and cringe at tweets that go against what we feel to be right, Twitter uses that activity to cultivate the content it pushes to our feeds in the future.

Additionally, Twitter magnifies situations and leads to dramatic responses from people that are not necessarily fully informed on all aspects of an issue. It’s common for Twitter users wanting to seem knowledgeable or relevant to immediately post about a topic of concern without fully researching the causes of an issue. Instead of relying solely on Twitter, make sure to also fact-check with credible news sources for information.

Excuses about being too busy to be informed also don’t add up. If you’re “too busy” to read or watch the news as a student, you’ll always be “too busy”—life doesn’t slow down after college. Even using a 10-minute chunk of time each day to check up on a few important issues is doable for anyone and is a great step toward being more politically aware. Checking our social media feeds has become an every-day habit, and since online news sources are cheap and easily accessible for students, spending a few minutes reading up on the latest current event issues should be incorporated into our online routine.

As a college student, it’s incredibly important to have basic knowledge about political and world topics. Whether you “like politics” or not, being informed allows for a broader worldview, a more open mind, and more opportunities for engagement.