Elections are coming up, and with them comes a whole slew of information about each candidate. All of that information can be hard to sort through, with so many political ads coming from all sides. The election this year will decide which candidates will win in the competition for governor, lieutenant governor, state senators, and general assembly. Students who wish to vote will be faced with the potentially difficult decision of deciding which political candidates they support, or which parties they agree with. Figuring these things out isn’t easy, especially if you are young and have never voted before.
There are several ways in which a college education can help you make a more informed decision about who to vote for. For starters, Rowan provides information about the candidates in a variety of formats. The school newspaper, The Whit, recently ran several articles about the candidates in the upcoming elections. The articles included information on where each candidate stands on several key issues, such as healthcare and education. The Whit provided information about candidates from both major political parties so that students would know where each side stood. This helps students learn what they need to in order to make their own decisions. There was also an article describing the results of the recent debate between Cory Booker and Steve Lonegan, which was held right here at Rowan. Students who were able to attend the debate had the opportunity for a firsthand experience learning the candidates’ views right from the own mouths, but even those who didn’t attend can get the important information from the school newspaper.
In addition, Rowan offers a variety of classes in the political science field. Students who take these classes can learn more about politics in general, and about local issues in particular. These classes are a great way for students to increase their awareness about key issues, and to better understand the impact their voting decision can have.
There is another, less obvious way that your college education will help you make a more informed decision. When faced with the onslaught of political attack ads and propaganda, it can be difficult to discern the truth from the lies and figure out which representations of a candidate are the most accurate. It’s very common for some political ads to skew the truth, or give only an inaccurate portion of the information. Having a college education can help you sort through this information, since you learn how to be a critical thinker and problem solver. The work you do in college courses analyzing texts and digging to the root of a problem teaches you how to discover the deeper meaning in things. You can then apply these critical thinking skills to analyzing politicians and the views they present, in order to see past what they are trying to tell you and find out what they really believe. There are also classes at Rowan that help you understand the science of influence and persuasion, so that you can learn the tricks some people may use to try to manipulate your views. Once you understand the psychology behind persuasive techniques, you can learn to guard against them. Then, you’ll be better able to make your own decision instead of being bullied into one by deceitful political propaganda.
General education classes are also important to helping you become a more informed and decisive voter. A good example of this is history classes, which help you to better understand where we come from as a country and how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Oftentimes, history will repeat itself, and today’s politicians may end up making the same type of bad decisions that led to past injustices. It may be hard to see those risks if you don’t have a knowledge of history. Similarly, studying sociology, economics, anthropology, and psychology can help you to better understand our society in order to make better decisions about its future.
Being a part of the Rowan community can also help you make better decisions because you are surrounded by people with similar concerns and goals. Searching online for information about politics is often useless, since you’re likely to find contradictory information without being sure you can trust the source. When faced with vastly different views, you may not know who to listen to. The views expressed by people posting information online might not reflect the needs of young college students, who have a particular set of concerns. Most students are concerned with issues like education funding and how it affects tuition costs; employment, especially for students who are nearing graduation; and healthcare, since they may soon have to purchase their own insurance once they are no longer eligible to be covered under their parents’ plans. Since these are issues most Rowan students share in common, it can be helpful to discuss these issues with your classmates. You may gain extra insight that will help you decide which party deserves your support. The opinions and information you hear from classmates may be more helpful to you than those you gain from the internet or from televised ads.
Voting is an important right, and one that should be used responsibly. An education in history, politics, and social issues is an important tool that will help you become an informed voter. This is just one of the ways that your college education can improve your decision making ability and lead you down a smarter path in life.