Maybe you’re not always conscious of it, but every individual is a member of many different communities. Whether it’s on the local, national or global scale, from college sports teams to entire races or religions, communities are an intrinsic and vital part of life. Yet so often college students tend to disengage from their communities due to the various distractions of daily life, unconsciously allowing work, social media, or other forms of entertainment and focus to usurp their attention. But being a part of a community means being an active member, even if it’s just being aware and having an opinion of what’s going on. While some students may think reading the paper is reserved for their parents, there are ways to stay engaged with current events without having to give up the other parts of your day.
1. Watch the news while at the gym.
One of the best multitasking combinations I have yet to find. If working out is part of your daily routine, snag a treadmill or bike in front of a TV playing the news, and after your 45 or so minute run you’ll also have gained a good deal of news coverage. Not only do you walk, ok, limp, away from your workout with a sufficient understanding of the current news, but watching the news also helps the time pass quickly.
2. Read the paper at breakfast or right before bed.
The newspaper is probably the best way to gain an understanding of the news, as you can skim over all the articles or choose to read a few in depth. They’re both unbiased and opinionated, to give you a variety of perspectives with which you can contemplate the issues. Breakfast may be the one meal you can have alone in public without feeling like a hermit, so start your day right with a cup of coffee and the paper. If you don’t have time in the morning, make time right before bed. Put down your phone (the light emitted from the screen is proven to keep you up) and instead wind down with the paper.
3. Get updates on your phone or apps of short summaries
If you want efficiency, go with this route. The New York Times, and I’m sure many other news corporations, will send you short one or two sentence notifications of major news events throughout the day. If something catches your eye, you can click on the notification for a more in depth reading, but if not you will at least get a sufficient variety of headlines to keep you aware of major news. There are also apps, such as The Skimm, which give short summaries of news articles. As most college students have their phones on them for the majority of the day, these options are quick, portable and convenient for the busy student.
4. Listen to the news while in the car or studying
While vibing to Justin Bieber’s latest single may or may not be every person’s favorite way to pass the time of car rides or break up monotonous studying, try replacing music with news. When you’re sitting down and need to focus, the news is a great way to take in what’s happening around you, and isn’t as distracting as the beat, chorus and drops in music. Even if it’s just for a few minutes or an hour, switching the radio from the Hit 100 station to a news talk show is a perfect way to incorporate the news into your day.
5. Listen to fun or more interesting sources of news
Sometimes is may not be the time consuming aspect of staying involved in the news, but the way in which it’s presented, that deters students from reading the paper or watching the news. If these, for some odd reason, aren’t thrilling activities for you, try out a new type of news source. Programs such as MPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life are hilarious radio programs that still incorporate the news. Ellen and the Daily Show are other great sources of humor that give you some insight to current events.
While some college students love to stay involved in current events, some feel that reading the newspaper or watching the news may feel like a chore. However, especially as college students, it’s important to remain aware of what’s going on in your community. Whether it’s reading that long email your school’s President just sent out, or reading about what transnational trade pact was just signed, knowing what’s going on in your community allows you to truly participate and be a member of it.
Making it a habit to incorporate some news source into your daily routine will make a perceived chore an enjoyable habit. Not only will you be aware of the current events, but this awareness will lead to a deeper understanding of the material being taught in classes, allow you to develop personal opinions, and lead to interesting conversations with friends, peers, professors, family and even strangers.