By Staff Writers ... via OnlineColleges.net
College is a time for independence and self-discovery. The transition from high school to campus life can be daunting for most. Students usually concern themselves with the balance of socializing and studying. However, with bigger issues like LGBTQ rights, student debt and tuition, and future jobs students will not be able to anticipate the future unless they start becoming aware of what is happening now.
2008 proved a landmark election year for the 18-to-29-year-old demographic, with 51% of qualified Americans within this age range showing up at the polls. Sixty-two percent of those with at least somecollege experience voiced their opinions on economic, social, and political issues, and four years later, it’s looking like they may very well show up in the same (relative) droves. Because so many topics big and small directly dictate their lives, it behooves new and seasoned voters alike to familiarize themselves with today’s most pressing debates. Start with the following and branch out from there for a broad view of everything currently at stake.
The New York Times refers to the current crop of college graduates as
“The Limbo Generation” because they happen to enter into an economypockmarked by high unemployment. Growing up, higher education was always touted as an essential gateway toward many (if not most) career paths, but reality proved otherwise when businesses just stopped hiring. A 2010 Center for Information & Research on Civil Learning & Engagement showed that voters between the ages of 18 and 29 considered improving the economy the most pressing political issue, with 59% reporting it as their primary concern. Considering how an estimated 64% of Occupy participants are under the age of 35, it doesn’t look like much has really changed since then.
Tuition and student loans:
College students continue demonstrating in the United States and Canada alike, angered largely over tuition hikes and favoring student loan reform. For obvious reasons, of course! President Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent in the 2012 election cycle, has already made some headway in making it easier for graduates to pay off the money they’ve taken out for their higher educations, but more legislation needs implementing to protect their interests. As it stands now, the laws restricting payments to paying out no more than 10% of disposable income will not go into effect until 2014. Which, for cash-strapped college kids struggling to scratch up jobs after receiving their degrees, isn’t nearly soon enough.
After the economy, healthcare ranks as the second most major political issue for voters between ages 18 and 29, with 24% listing it as their primary concern. Understandable! Even completely purging the socialized medicine vs. private healthcare debate, every single individual on the planet deserves affordable access to the resources necessary to keep alive and as kicking as possible. Idaho requires all full-time college students to carry a health insurance policy, tacking even more costs onto their already burdened bank accounts — to the tune of $2,124 at Boise State, or an increase of 20.9%. On a national level, many are allowed to stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26, but this is an option not available to all. Scammers so often take advantage of college kids’ vulnerability, and intensive research is necessary to prevent the loss of even more money.
According to a 2002 Gallup poll, roughly a quarter of the American population identifies as homosexual, so it’s probably just a little bit logical to assume that a goodly portion of these individuals have or will attend an institute of higher learning at some point. Most campuses these days play host to LGBTQIA organizations (at minimum) providing resources and support to students who feel confused or marginalized by their sexualities and gender identities and expressions, and every year Campus Pride ranks the best colleges and universities for meeting their needs. Supporting equality means nurturing a safer atmosphere for LGBTQIA classmates, for whom suicide and bullying stand as a much more heightened risk than their cisgendered or heterosexual peers.
So far, Operation Iraqi Freedom has resulted in nearly 4,500 American military casualties since its inception. In Afghanistan, the number sits at just under 1,938 at the time of writing. Because the average age of active duty combatants hovers around 28, this means quite a bit of overlap with college students who take advantage of the GI Bill after returning. In fact, many enlistees sign up with their preferred branch with the hopes of eventually affording college or vocational school. Regardless of one’s perceptions regarding American involvement in international conflicts, the troops fully deserve a fair chance at the higher education opportunities they need to accomplish their goals. Keeping them alive and safe is, quite obviously, the most essential component.
Even though SOPA/PIPA never landed, it certainly forced the Internet generation to take notice of how politicians impact their digital doings. Now CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, elicits outcries from citizens and businesses concerned that its allowing open access to website data without a court order means the potential for egregious privacy violations. Considering three out of 10 “best jobs of 2012” involve working directly with computers (and, of course, so very, very many more), more and more graduates will likely land directly in these legislations’ crosshairs. Even then, understanding the ins and outs of online privacy and its relationship to civil rights is a valuable knowledge set to possess, especially as society grows more and more reliant on digital media for pretty much everything ever.