The news

College is a bubble; although you’re learning subjects that help you understand the world in a more nuanced, open-minded way, your actual world is very much within the confines of your campus. This world is, to be fair, an exciting one; just because it’s something of a limbo between high school and adult life doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. It is, however, just as important to stay aware of the world outside your college town.
Need some convincing? The entire point of college is to become a person who can think well. Without a thorough understanding of how your life relates to the greater world around you, you’re neglecting a vital part of your higher education. On a practical level, knowing what’s happening in the news makes you sound smarter in the classroom. Professors love it when students can relate in-class ideas to the real world; it shows critical thinking and application skills. It gives you something intelligent to talk about with them outside of the classroom as well. If you haven’t found out yet, professors tend to be incredibly interested in politics and news, so feel free to show off your know-how as often as you like. Knowing about the world around you is essential in the real world as well, so get as much practice now as you can.
College life makes keeping up with the news far more challenging than you might imagine, unfortunately. Even swiping through a news app on your phone becomes difficult once you’re bogged down with group projects and term papers. If you find yourself neglecting the news, try making a schedule. Decide on when you’re going to check the news and how often; if possible, program your smart phone or computer to bring up alerts during those periods. If you’re feeling more ambitious, download a simple news app or make it your home screen. If reading isn’t your forte, try podcasts or broadcast news; these outlets allow for more flexible, on-the-go options.
Reading the news is one thing; digesting it is another entirely. If you’re just registering what’s happening in the world without really thinking about it, bring it into your conversations. Talk about the news with your friends over lunch or, if you’re feeling ambitious, join a political or news discussion club. Make sure that you’re really engaging with the material you hear; engage in political debates, allude to current events in your class assignments, repost interesting articles online—anything that forces you to join a larger conversation.
The best way to really appreciate how the news is conveyed and interpreted is, of course, through firsthand experience. Join your campus newspaper as a staff writer and try your hand at reporting for yourself. Chances are, you’ll be surprised at how nuanced and challenging a skill news writing is, and you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation for how the media conveys everything from celebrity gossip to national politics.

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