There are many benefits to being politically involved throughout your college years such as networking, solidifying your political beliefs, and making your voice heard.
When I was in high school, I was heavily involved in state and local politics. I interned and volunteered on multiple campaigns, founded my high school’s Young Republicans chapter, and went to Turning Point USA conferences. The majority of my free time was completely consumed with participating in political events from fundraisers to phone banks.
However, as I was going to college in a different city, when I left after graduating high school, I felt like I had to start over my youth political career, as silly as that sounds. Almost as soon as I set foot on my college campus, I threw myself into political activism between volunteering for campaigns and activist groups. I found my identity in politics and found community there as well.
It wasn’t long, though, before I burnt myself out on political activism because it was all I knew. That’s not healthy in the long run— I let my political involvement take over my life. It’s important to be politically involved in college, but it’s equally important not to let it overwhelm you.
Find Your Political Niche
There are many different ways to make your voice heard while you’re in college. You don’t even need to look further than your college campus! Depending on how big your student body is, the number of organizations you have to choose from may range from dozens to hundreds. Narrowing your focus to politically inclined organizations, you can look for your local chapters of Turning Point USA, Young America’s Foundation, Young Americans for Liberty, or College Republicans.
You can even look for organizations that are more issues based.Rather than a vague liberal or conservative group, find an organization that focuses on one specific issue or combination of issues— even if the type of people that it attracts doesn’t necessarily align with your political views.
For example, I was active in a conservative group on my campus for a long time before I shifted to the center. I also went to events our campus’ Amnesty International chapter hosted because I believed firmly in what the organization fights for even though it is often seen as a more liberal group. ProLife Youth, Amnesty International, a pro-second amendment group, or a free speech group may help you hone your interests in activism to be more gratifying in the long run.
When you find your political niche, you can find more than a political activism outlet— you can find community. I have met most of my closest and best friends through political outlets such as Turning Point USA and College Republicans. When you share values with someone, you connect on a deeper level.
Get Involved Outside Politics
In order not to get totally overwhelmed with political happenings, it’s important to have outlets outside of the political world that will help you avoid getting burnt out.
If you’re religious, get involved in a bible study or faith outreach group. A lot of religious groups are careful not to take hardline political stances on issues.
If you’re interested in social events and philanthropy, get involved with Greek life or with a men’s or women’s organization on campus. There are also non-Greek letter fraternities and sororities that do a lot of social and philanthropy events on and off campus.
If you’re sporty, get your physical activity fill with participating in intramural sports. You’ll make great friends, get your endorphins flowing, and get to be a part of a team.
There are so many organizations on campus that you can be involved in, and they can be a great way to alleviate some of the negativity associated with politics. Remember, there is so much more to life than politics. Instead of using your political views as your core identity or as a qualifier to who are, accept your political views as a piece of your personality, and don’t let them overshadow the rest of who you are.
Take Time for Yourself
If you’re an introvert like me, spending time alone taking care of yourself is crucial for, well, remaining sane. Every day, do something for yourself. Treat yourself to a coffee, watch a little of your go-to show, or just veg out a little bit.
Self-care is incredibly important and a key way to avoid getting burnt out on fickle politics. Life is too short to let things like policy stances and political leanings to drain you of your sanity and joy. There is more to life than politics, but there’s nothing wrong with being politically active in college. Balance is the key.
Do you think that political activism is important for college students? Are there ways that you avoid getting burnt out on politics? Let us know what you think in the comments below!