The goal of any good columnist is to consistently write about something that is both compelling and relevant to his or her targeted audience. That is my task every week, and it is a task I take very seriously. I am a college student writing for an audience of college students, and the topics I outline in my columns seek to reflect the interests of the people here at UT. Yet as I plan out each column that I write, I am faced every week with an obvious but nonetheless critical question: what exactly is relevant and compelling to college students?
In many ways, finding one topic of interest for all college students is like finding a needle in a haystack. We all have different academic majors, are engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities, and pursue different interests. In fact, one of the best things about college is having the ability to explore our academic preferences, to discover potential careers, and to get involved in activities that interest us on a deeply personal level. Rather than being locked into a curriculum like we were in high school, college allows us the opportunity to tailor our experience to meet our personal goals and interests. And because of the freedom that college affords, finding a common ground across an entire student body is extremely difficult.
That said, however, there are certainly a couple of topics that are (or at least should be) of relevance to everyone here at UT, regardless of major, background, hobbies or career goals. For one thing, we all have prioritized education as an important pursuit in our lives. It does not matter whether you entered college at eighteen or returned to college at forty-five, or whether you are graduating in three years or six years. The point is you are here to receive a degree and become a productive and valuable member of society. Education as a priority is a unifying experience that reaches across majors and across personal interests to create a common goal for all UT students.
Not only do we care about education in general, but we presumably also care about our futures. We do not want to be wasting our time in college; we want our degrees to mean something and to give us a path to a productive future where we can both financially support ourselves and hopefully make a difference in the world in one way or another. Because of this, we should all be aware of the way the world works today and how we fit into that world. We should know that the job market is not great for anyone these days. We should know that whoever wins the presidential election will have a significant impact on our lives, both as students and as future employers and employees. These things are absolutely relevant to all college students, because they form the common ground upon which we all stand as Americans and as current and future members of the work force.
It may not seem very important to identify topics that are relevant to the entire student body. It is impossible to get the attention of every UT student, and it is equally impossible to convince them all of the importance of these topics. But I do believe that it is critical to make us all aware that we as students share common interests. We are not isolated from each other. We are part of a community, and what we prioritize and the way we interact with one another should reflect that sense of community.
— Sarah Russell is a senior in history. She can be reached at email@example.com.