Does college life change political opinion?

Undoubtedly yes it does.

It’s hard to deny that at this moment in time politics is the most deviding subject which one can find themselves embroiled in conversation. It’s an area that people find hard to express an opinion in due to the rise of political correctness.

College campuses are a great platform for young people to learn more about party lines and debate contrasting views on certain issues such as pro life and pro choice. However, it is becoming increasingly harder for many students like myself to voice their own political opinions due to this PC era. These days the mentality is that if your opinion differs from someone else’s, primarily a liberal or left wing supported you run the risk of being labelled a bigot. This mentality is what holds people back from truly expressing how they feel about a subject equally this causes huge conflicts between either side.

When I first moved to college like many, I wouldn’t have cared too much for politics, you could say I would identify as a inherit liberal. When I turned 18 and was eligible to vote, I would have just gone with the flow and voted the popular motion without even looking too mich into how it would affect the country or myself in the future. I am now 20, finishing my 2nd year of college and walking out a progressive right-wing supporter which may confuse many as we are told those two things don’t go together. So what shook up my political outlook? Well it’s quite simple, like alot of people in recent months I grew tired of being told what I should believe in and not allowed formulate my own opinion.

There were many politically charged protests, movements and talks which happened this year but by fare the most memorable one was in relation to abortion in Ireland. I remember being harassed by speakers across the campus who were more about enforcing a view rather than debating the pros and cons of their motion. A lot of people felt the same way I did, not so about the motion but more about the side it was being dictated by. People don’t like to be told what they should believe in and this trend is being exhibited across college campuses all across the country. There is nothing wrong with feeling strongly about a motion or policies but when these ideals are being rammed down the throats of others regardless which side it’s coming from, it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.

Besides being told what to believe, the vast majority of people once they go to college only really experience politics for the first time. Other than CSPE for the junior cert many young people’s only other point if contact with politics would be over dinner when the news comes on. College provides young people with independence from home and in alot if cases they need to make their own decisions because their parents or guardians aren’t there to walk then through it. Being surrounded by people who all have different opinions is a great thing. The conflicting views of others makes you research into either side to form your own opinion, opportunities you don’t get anywhere else.

Regardless which side of the political spectrum you lie in, It’s hard to argue that college or further education didn’t play a role in bringing you there. The exposure to conflicting views and ideas helps people primarily build and understanding of politics beyond what they already know, I personally think it would be of benefit to teenagers and young adults to get a crash course in politics in secondary school which allows them to gain even a basic understanding of such a complex system which will stand to them later in life. The CSPE curriculum was seen as a practically a free class back when I was in Junior cert, the connect the person to the political building model of civics was lack at best. Should there be an overhaul of how subjects are delivered in secondary schools, apart from the three core subjects I strongly believe CSPE is a contender for reform also.

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