With the transition into adulthood comes immense pressure to make decisions about your stance on major political issues. College campuses are the perfect setting for opinions, with a plethora of opportunities to be exposed to different viewpoints that may not have been present in high school. Many of these new ideas can be overwhelming, but instead of giving up on politics altogether, try these tips to develop your opinions over the course of your higher education career.
First, your political identity should not be defined by one single person or political party. Your opinions may vary from what is standard for either party, and you may feel more liberal or conservative about individual issues. It is important to remember that being politically active doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything a person or group does or stands for: you can develop your own opinions, and advocate for issues that you, personally, are passionate about.
Do Some Research
Developing these opinions will involve doing some research and learning about the issues. Try searching for news about gun rights, college debt, or anything else you’re interested in. The sources you find will likely try to persuade you, so it is important to recognize bias and take their arguments with a grain of salt: there may be more to it than they’re leading you to believe. To combat this, try looking at several websites or watching newscasts from many diverse viewpoints to uncover the underlying facts.
Discuss the Issues
You can also discuss these issues with your friends, teachers, and parents. While it isn’t a good idea to let them completely determine your perspectives, they may help you shape your own ideas, or provide more perspectives than what you saw in your research. Remember that not every political discussion needs to be a debate; especially when you’re looking for more information, calm conversations about the issues can be valuable to you.
After consulting many of these sources, consider possible solutions to the issues you are passionate about. You can look to see what the key political figures have suggested, as well. Let these ideas wrestle in your head a bit, and try to find what aligns with your values and beliefs. What makes sense to you? What can you argue for?
If you still aren’t quite sure what you believe, that’s okay. This can be a lengthy process, and no one is making you decide right now. Throughout your life, you will continue to develop and change your opinions, so try to stay open-minded. If you’re passionate about an issue, take a stand! Advocate for candidates you support, hold rallies for causes and issues you care about, and always remember to vote to make a change in your government. You can find your political identity in college, and now is a prime time to do it!