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Local voices: Overcoming the contradictions of college life

As winter quarter at Northwestern University begins, I feel excited and sad I will be exchanging a life centered on family for one centered on academics. I chose to live in temporary ignorance of university life and bask in the California sun.

Like other college students, I am on the cusp of reaching adulthood. I am a fledgling robin taking its first steps outside its nest, anxious about venturing into a mysterious world far from the familiar confines of home.

The moment a person chooses to assume full responsibility for his life can be hard to pin down. Even in college, many student endeavors are not independent innovations because they are connected with the university. The student groups operating throughout Northwestern University carry out their functions in a microcosm separate from global society. Although many of these groups are run solely by students, they are constricted by their ties to the university.

For example, I think college papers such as The Daily Northwestern do not receive as much attention from the media and students compared to newspaper companies even though students have a unique voice to offer. This inattention may be warranted because student reporters do not have as much experience as professional journalists do. However, much of student-paper writing is overshadowed by the fact students are part-time reporters and students. As a reporter for The Daily, I identified this dichotomy as similar to the circumstances I faced when I left home for college.

College, we are often told, is a necessary step toward achieving a job and a reasonably comfortable life. Although college prepares students for their futures, a gap exists between the circumstances of college and independent living.  

When friends ask me why I chose journalism as my major, I say I enjoy writing. Unfortunately, journalism is in flux as technology advances and traditional formats of news are becoming expendable. Breakout news companies that take advantage of the social media popular among younger generations are rapidly gaining on well-established news organizations.

A friend told me this flux in the news market creates new opportunities for journalism to explore. My cynical conscience countered that he could afford to be optimistic when his future was not at stake. On the other hand, journalist majors and others pursuing jobs that are hard to come by cannot risk thinking negatively about their future. Societal changes influenced by technological advancements favor the bold and innovative instead of those who dwell on the past. Therefore, it is increasingly important to get a foot outside college life.

Northwestern University is long known as an incubator for potential. Why can’t students take some of those ideas and jump start businesses to influence the changing media landscape?

To excel, Northwestern students must adopt a culture of positive while ignoring the naysayers. 

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