During my freshman year at The College of New Jersey, I began to find that I had expanded my knowledge of music, thanks to my friends, and that the television in my dorm room only went on to watch a sports event. Though I did read some news articles online, I did not watch the news to see what was happening in the world, or even to keep up with events off campus.
When I went home for the first time I found that the radio was playing the same songs that I downloaded on my computer at school, and that people in my hometown were talking about national issues.
I began to seriously analyze the fact that there was a world outside of the campus in which I was not involved. Around almost every college and university, there is a whole community at the disposal of college students.
Elizabeth Leitzell, who writes for the Daily Trojan, the student newspaper at the University of Southern California, wrote an article last summer encouraging students to resist the isolation of the "campus bubble." She mentioned the fact that before college, students are able to ignore news, politics, worldwide events, and other such issues since their fellow students, teachers, parents, or other influences would keep them informed and up-to-date.
While living on a college campus, however, it is not always that simple. It is important for students to keep up with the news and to pay attention to events that happen that can potentially affect them as citizens and residents of a particular community or state. Ten minutes a day online reading articles is not unreasonable in an effort to keep up on daily news items; whether it is in the middle of the day, right when you wake up, or right before you fall asleep. Eventually, as Leitzell mentioned, college students will be placed in the "outside community" and will be part of the society that they so often ignore.
One metaphor that Sarah Weiss used in her article in the Yale Daily News is that our friends at college become our family, and that most students are on campus more than off campus. In this respect, campus activities may become a huge part of one's life. What food being served in the cafeteria, dates for certain events on campus or deadlines for papers and exams are the topics of conversation as opposed to the War on Terror or different Congressional committee happenings.
When I went home for the first break during the fall semester of my freshman year, my community looked like it had not changed since I had left. After spending a few days at home, driving around town and visiting places where I used to go in high school, I noticed that the community had definitely changed. I just did not notice it because I was not paying attention to the particulars. This is just one example of something in the "real world" that happens while college students are busy conducting a life on a campus with its own community.
A college campus is the first actual "real world" experience that many people receive. It is considered a stepping stone from living at home with a parent or guardian who helps organize tasks and makes appointments, to living independently, taking care of bills and other such responsibilities. Everything is different on a college campus, from eating a meal, to waking up on time, and even one's study habits. For better or worse, it is a good experience for someone to move onto a college campus. It is something that, if possible, I would recommend to all prospective college students.
But a college campus still acts as a bubble in two ways. Not only may it seem more convenient to eat, study, or even get out of bed when at home, but national or local events impact someone living in a home more directly than someone living in a college dormitory on campus.
Popping the campus bubble that surrounds your school requires taking initiative by going off campus for a meal, seeking a job off campus, living off campus, or consistently reading a local paper online. Living on campus during college has benefits that definitely outweigh the downfalls. Even so, I still feel it is important to know what is going on in one's hometown or even just a few miles off campus.
David Greenblatt is a sophomore at The College of New Jersey. He is a Political Science major and is one of the few students on campus from Long Island, New York.