college students

Most Popular College Majors

When it comes to college majors, a student has many, many options. There are thousands of individual majors out there, and with all those choices it’s hard to know where to go. So how do you choose? Well, it could be that students are following their passions; however, practicality and demand are definitely factors in choosing a major. So which majors do students prefer? Here is a list of the most popular college majors and fields of study.

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice is the study of criminology–crime and criminals. Criminal justice majors learn about criminological theory, criminal psychology, and the criminal justice system. Some Criminal Justice topics included in this major are Public Safety and Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Social Work.

Average Salary in Criminal Justice: $29/Hour, $59.8K/Year

Popular Careers in Criminal Justice:

  • Lawyer
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Corrections

Best Colleges for Criminal Justice:

  1. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  2. Liberty University
  3. University of California – Irvine
  4. Florida State University
  5. Northeastern University

Anthropology and Sociology

Anthropology is the study of human beings and our development of society and culture. Anthropology majors focus on the histories of our societies and the roots of our cultural traditions and functions. Degree topics include Archaeology, Social/Cultural Anthropology, Biological/Physical Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology.

Average Anthropology Major Salary: $31/Hour, $63.7K/Year

Popular Careers in Anthropology:

  • Attorney
  • Diversity Officer
  • Foreign Language Teacher
  • Foreign Science Officer
  • Human Resources Representative

Sociology is the study of our social lives as humans. They seek to understand the impact the social world has on our behavior and the impact our behavior has on the social world, considering and investigating problems and circumstances in our social world. Sociologists can study health, marriage, sexuality, education, social inequalities, and much more.

Average Salary for Sociology Majors: $40.10/Hour, $83.4K/Year

Popular Careers in Sociology:

  • Education
  • Social Work
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Business
  • Politics / Public Relations

Best Colleges for Anthropology and Sociology:

  • Yale University
  • Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • Pomona College

Finance & Accounting

Finance & Accounting majors focus on financial planning, investment decisions, financial reporting, and more. Finance & Accounting majors will learn about different parts of the financial world, like predicting future financial performance. Fields include Sports Accounting, Forensic Accounting, Corporate Finance, Personal Financial Planning, and Auditing Information Technology

Average Salary in Finance & Accounting: $24.18/Hour, $63.9K/Year

Popular Careers in Finance & Accounting:

  • Accounting
  • Finance Analysis
  • Investment Management
  • Investment Banking
  • Business

Best Colleges for Finance & Accounting:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Georgetown University
  3. University of Notre Dame
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. Boston College

Communications

Communications majors study techniques and methods of best communicating information. These majors learn how to research and interpret information, using what they’ve learned to communicate said information most effectively. Communications majors might go into Interpersonal Communication, Film Studies, or Strategic Communication, to name a few.

Average Salary in Communications: $30/Hour, $62.4K/Year

Popular Careers in Communications:

  • Journalism
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Digital Broadcasting
  • Customer Service

Best Colleges for Communications:

  1. Northwestern University
  2. University of Southern California
  3. Stanford University
  4. University of Pennsylvania
  5. Pomona College

Education

Education majors study teaching, in theory and practice. Education majors learn to help their students understand their chosen subjects through techniques and engagement. Education majors can go on to teach K-12, vocational training, foreign language, and so on.

Average Salary in Education: $17.11/Hour, $52.5K/Year (with a Bachelor in Education)

Popular Careers in Education:

  • High School Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • College Education Administration
  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Vocation Education Teacher

Best Colleges for Education:

  1. Vanderbilt University
  2. Brown University
  3. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  4. Boston College
  5. Brigham Young University

Engineering

Engineering majors focus on how things work, and how to make them work better. This major studies real-world problem solving and the improvement of our world. Engineering is another extensive field, with interesting options like Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Engineering

Average Salary in Engineering: $42.01/Hour, $87.4K/Year

Popular Careers in Engineering:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering

Best Colleges for Engineering:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  2. Stanford University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Rice University
  5. Princeton University

Biology

Biology is the scientific study of living organisms, like you and I. These majors seek to understand how these organisms function, what their role is, and what characteristics they have. Biology majors who are more interested in animals can study specifications include Zoology (the study of animal life), Botany (the study of plant life), Marine Biology (the study of marine life, and Ecology (environmental studies). 

Average Salary in Biology: $32/Hour, $65.9K/Year

Popular Careers in Biology:

  • Microbiology
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Healthcare
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Biology Teacher / Professor

Top Colleges for Biology:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Yale University
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  5. Duke University

Psychology

Psychology majors study human behavior and the inner working of the mind. These majors strive to understand why people think and behave the way they do, and how internal and external factors affect this. The field of psychology is broad, giving these majors plenty of options, like clinical psychology, child and family psychology, and counseling.

Average Salary in Psychology: $19.6/Hour, $40.8K/Year

Popular Careers in Psychology:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology Technician

Best Colleges for Psychology:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Yale University
  3. Harvard University
  4. Vanderbilt University
  5. Rice University

Nursing

Nursing majors study healthcare and the practical use of medical knowledge. The majors learn how to navigate healthcare settings, interact with patients, and assess and react to the situations they might encounter. A nursing degree can create options like Registered Nursing, Administration, and Health Departments.

Average Salary in Nursing: $37.24/Hour, $77.5K/Year

Popular Careers in Nursing:

  • Registered Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Nursing Assisting
  • Progressive Care Nursing
  • Human Resources

Top Colleges for Nursing:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • University of Rochester

Business & Management

Business & Management majors study the components of management and business operations. These majors are taught the aspects of business and management, preparing them for critical thinking and decision making. Business and management majors will come to understand accounting, economics, business ethics, and other areas of business.

Average Salary in Business & Management: $28/Hour, $58.3K/Year

Popular Careers in Business & Management

  • Sales Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Financial Analysis
  • Business Analysis
  • Personal Banking

Top Colleges for Business:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Sources

  1. Trachta, Ali. “The Most Popular College Majors.” Niche. Niche.com Inc, 2019. Web. 18 June, 2019.
  2. Franek, Rob. “Top 10 College Majors.” The Princeton Review. TPR Education IP Holdings, LLC, 2020. Web.
  3. Popular College Degrees and Programs.” MatchCollege. MatchCollege.com, 2020. Web.
  4. Grudo, Gideon. “The 10 Best College Degrees to Get a Job.” Debt.com. Debt.com, LLC., 2020. Web.

And the Winner of the Free Nintendo Switch is…

Who doesn’t love a contest? Judging from the response to our eCampus.com K-12 Textbook Buyback Giveaway, it’s safe to say NO ONE! Giving away a Nintendo Switch and a total of $750 in textbook scholarships was an attention grabber for sure, resulting in thousands of entries. How did our customers enter? That was the easy part. Any eCampus.com K-12 Online Bookstore customer who sold back at least one textbook online through their school-specific bookstore from May 14, 2020 – July 15, 2020 became eligible to win.  

Let’s face it, this year has been unpredictable. It’s no surprise schools were forced to pivot how they handled textbook buyback events this spring given the COVID-19 pandemic. For eCampus.com partner schools, it was a seamless transition from onsite to online buybacks since their bookstores were already online with a customized storefront. Still, eCampus.com was committed to finding ways to make the textbook buyback process a more rewarding one – so, why not give away some free textbooks and a Nintendo Switch in the process? 

The giveaway was open to any student currently enrolled at an eCampus.com K-12 partner institution, which encompasses hundreds of schools. Students and families were happy to sell back textbooks from the comfort and safety of their homes and make some extra cash in the process. By selling at least one textbook online, students were automatically entered to win a $250 textbook scholarship and the free Nintendo Switch. 

The contest response was overwhelmingly positive and we are happy to celebrate our winners!

So, who was the lucky grand prize winner? Congratulations goes to Anaston Ragsdale from Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia. Ragsdale was randomly selected from thousands of entries and is the proud new owner of a FREE Nintendo Switch.

“We’ve always had a good experience with our eCampus.com Online Bookstore,” said Brenda Ragsdale, Anaston’s mother. “The textbooks come quickly and we’ve also had a positive experience selling back our textbooks at the end of the year.” An eCampus.com partner since 2019, Mount Paran Christian School’s Online Bookstore is where students are able to take advantage of a 24/7 online bookstore offering the guaranteed right course materials with free shipping promotions. 

In addition to the grand prize winner, additional winners were selected to receive a $250 textbook scholarship, including the Kozak family from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Maryland and Beth L. from Marian High School in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“eCampus makes the process of purchasing my books SO easy,” says Beth. “They have all of my classes listed and let me know quickly what textbooks and digital downloads I’ll need and whether it’s cheaper to buy used, new or through their marketplace. I love the confirmation email with photos of each item so I can confirm when I receive them.”

The full press release can be found here.

Congratulations to all of our winners! Still holding on to textbooks you no longer need? Sell them back to us HERE. We’re always buying textbooks and right now you can take advantage of premium buyback pricing through September 15, 2020. 

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when you’re ready to order textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Your Guide to Transferring Colleges: Facts, Tips, and Advice

The pursuit of a college degree is no longer a straight-line trajectory. Switching between full and part-time status, taking time off, and transferring schools are common choices for 21st century students. In fact, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, about one-third of all students will swap institutions at least once before earning their degree.

It’s not so rare to find yourself at an institution that isn’t the right fit. Getting a degree is a big investment of time and effort, and it’s important to make sure you’re in the right place for your goals and having a positive experience as you study.

Why transfer colleges?

Most transfer students change schools due to three types of variables: social, geographic, and academic.

One excellent reason to transfer is because you are unhappy. If you find that the school you are attending is not the best-fit college for you, you don’t have to settle for four years of misery. Now that you have more clarity about what you want out of your college experience, you are even better equipped to find one that will meet your academic and social expectations.

Another reason to transfer is if your current school does not have a strong program in your major or area of interest. Some students who are rejected from their first-choice school attend another school with the intention of later transferring. Others begin their education at a two-year community college but ultimately want a four-year degree.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that today’s college students have more educational options than ever before. Follow our step-by-step guide to make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Consider why you want to transfer

Before you begin researching and applying to schools, take a step back and decide if transferring is absolutely necessary. Struggles with bad roommates or difficult professors are likely to improve over time, and it’s important to give yourself adequate time to adjust to college life before considering a transfer. Many prospective transfer students can find it difficult to process their feelings about this decision. 

Write out exactly what’s not clicking with your current college, or what you love about the place you’re thinking of transferring to. Write a couple pages without censoring yourself (and maybe even do the classic pro-con list).

2. Begin your college search, again!

Now that you’ve determined you definitely want to transfer, there are a few bases you’ll need to cover. First, do your research! 

Although you’ve been through the college admissions process once, it’s different the second time around when you’re trying to transfer. Deadlines differ based on when you’re hoping to switch schools, and each college has to coordinate with the other on credits, financial aid, and more. 

Establish a list of what you do and don’t want in a college. For instance, look for colleges that have your major, your desired location and social environment. Using College Board’s BigFuture college search can help you narrow down colleges that are a good fit for you based on your requirements and preferences. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few schools you’re seriously interested in, be proactive about getting to know the school. 

  • Do a campus visit 
  • Meet with the director of the department you’re interested in
  • Speak with students who are currently studying what you’re interested in studying
  • Speak with other transfer students 
  • Sit in on a few classes

3. Meet with an academic advisor or transfer specialist 

If you haven’t already, speak with your academic advisor about transferring. Chances are, they’ve gone through the process before with another student. They’ll know who to talk to in the registrar, admissions, and financial aid offices at your school. Plus, they should be able to give you an idea of which credits will transfer. 

A school serious about making the transition easier for students will have professionals to do just that. Schools with a transfer counselor send a signal to prospective students that they understand the challenges and welcome transfer students to their institution. Talking to advisors on both ends will help you to devise a plan so you’re prepared for a successful transition. Come prepared with questions about the campus, student life, academics, and more.

4. Find out which of your credits will transfer

Every university has its own transfer policy. This should be listed on their website. Not only will this policy include important info like application deadlines, but will also tell you their policy regarding transfer credits.

The transfer policy will tell you if you can transfer credit from exams, or apply credits from two-year degrees towards the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Some universities require that students have earned a specific amount of credits (sometimes up to two years’ worth) at their home university before transferring, meaning that it might be worth it to wait another semester or two to make the transfer.

Some universities won’t accept credits if you are changing majors, but others will allow you to transfer these credits towards elective courses. Some universities won’t accept credits from courses in which you earned a grade lower than a C. Prospective transfer students quickly discover that there is incredible variety in transfer policies between universities.

Send your transcript to the university you hope to attend to find out which of your credits will transfer. There are some schools, however, that will not accept transfer credits. If that’s the case, you have to weigh whether starting totally fresh will be worth it.

Check out collegetransfer.net to simplify this research process. This website helps students easily navigate their options in transferring based on your exact situation, goals, and experience.

5. Plan financially for your transfer 

Finances will, no doubt, play a huge role in your ability to transfer. Make sure you’ve spoken with a financial aid administrator at the school you hope to attend to get a clear picture of your financial aid. 

There may be a price difference between your current college and the one you plan on transferring to, but this is only one piece of the equation. Other expenses to plan for are moving expenses, differences in cost of living between locations, and application fees. In addition to this, students may face having to retake certain credits if they are not able to transfer them. 

Another note on financial planning – you should fill out the FAFSA each year. It can be harder for transfer students to get scholarship money but many schools have a fund especially designed for transfer students. As you research colleges and universities, make sure to look at the ins and outs of their financial aid policy, as well as researching other forms of funding (like scholarships and federal aid).

Scholarships.com is a great resource for funding in general, but also has specific scholarships for transfer students. 

6. Apply! Transfer Application Process

Once you’ve got the deadlines figured out, make sure you stick to them. Universities have very different transfer deadlines. Some only accept transfer applications in the spring. Other schools will have deadlines in the fall for those that want to transfer mid-year and another in the spring for those who want to begin at the start of the official school year in August or September.

Your application to colleges as a transfer will be similar to the applications you submitted as a high schooler, except your college GPA will be considered in the process as well. Resist the temptation to copy and paste old application material when you transfer. You have a new perspective, new experience, and new insights. Make use of them.

Your application will likely require one or two essays, many schools will require transfer students to write specifically on the topic of why they are transferring. In general, you can expect to provide the following items to your prospective transfer school:

  • College application
  • High school transcript
  • Letters of recommendation
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • College transcript
  • Application fees (or fee waiver)

7. Secure your spot

Finally, to make it official, turn in deposits, housing preferences and any other forms you need to complete in order to commit to your new college. Also, take a deep breath; you did it! Now, get ready for new challenges, friends and opportunities.

8. Find your place

Many transfer students can feel separate from the rest of the community at their universities, most of whom bonded during freshman orientation already. You may need to take a more active role in building a satisfying social life for yourself.

This might mean joining social groups, actively approaching other students before and after class, spending time at the campus cafe, etc. Find out if your new university hosts a transfer orientation. Many do, and it’s a great way to connect with other students in the same situation as you. Remember – making friends and building a community for yourself can take time. The important thing is to stay open and put yourself out there.

No college is perfect. And most new experiences feel scary or uncomfortable at first. That scary feeling always precedes a great time in life – because it means you’re taking a risk and making an investment. Check out the support systems in place at your university. Feelings of displacement and insecurity are common with new students and your school can probably offer you some resources, including someone to talk to with whom students can process their feelings and make a plan for succeeding in a new environment.

Planning ahead is the key to making a successful transition. Remember: You’re on no one’s timeline but your own. Choose your classes wisely and dedicate yourself to getting the most out of this experience. The rest will fall into place with time!

Be sure to connect with us, @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://www.nacacnet.org/globalassets/documents/knowledge-center/transfer/nacac-jkcf-planningtotransfer.pdf 
  2. https://www.affordablecolleges.com/resources/college-transfer-guide/ 
  3. https://www.campusreel.org/how-to-transfer-colleges 
  4. https://www.collegexpress.com/interests/transfer/articles/adjusting-new-campus/ups-and-downs-transfer-experience/

How Do College Classes Work? How to Add Them, Drop Them, and Endure Them

How Do College Classes Work?

In college, registration is probably one of the most difficult tasks a student faces. While it gets easier with each year of gained experience, the unknowns are what make the decisions hard. When you sign up for a class, you don’t know much about it beyond the scheduled time, professor’s name, and a brief description of a class. But the unknowns can make or break your class experience.

So, what do you do when you find you don’t like your professor? Or that the subject’s not for you? Or that you’re waking up too early and need a change ASAP? Well that all depends. Best case, you withstand the semester. If you can’t, you’ll probably have to add or drop a course.

So, how do you add or drop a course? How do you endure? How do you avoid signing up for classes that aren’t the right fit?

1. Scheduling

Schedule College Classes Carefully

Plan your schedule carefully. Register for the classes you need as soon as possible so you can schedule without any conflict or push back. Consider the credits you need and the most logical path to earning your degree, and think about what classes you will take the following year.

What is a core class? 

Get your core class requirements and first-year courses out of the way as soon as possible. Core class requirements are credits all students must obtain to be able complete their degrees, like math, english, and science credits. First-year courses are courses Freshmen are required to take for their major, or to fulfill a general school requirement. With these completed, more time and opportunities open up to take the classes you want and need.

If you are a student with grants, scholarships, etc., make sure you have the minimum hours required to retain your aid and benefits (usually about 12 hours). If you are a part-time and/or working student, design your schedule to help you rather than hinder you.

TIP: Want to make your college schedule the best it can be? Check out NerdWallet’s advice blog post, “Expert Advice: Planning Your College Class Schedule.”

Plan Ahead

Determine what classes you need to take, and which courses can be put off or swapped for more favorable options. Try your best to register for and remain in classes essential to your major, such as a 101 course or any other course that might be a prerequisite.

Plan ahead for potential classes you can drop or add. Have a backup plan and a timeline for when you’ll need to enact it. If you drop a course, know when the deadline is and what you should have completed before then. If you plan to add a class, know which professor you must contact and what procedures you’ll have to follow. Always act as if your back up plan will have to be instituted so you’re not at a loss if it really will be.

2. Adding, Dropping, and Withdrawal

Add College Classes

Adding a class during registration is relatively simple. When adding a class during your registration period, simply sign up for the course you wish to take (as long as it fits your schedule and has open seats).

If the class is full but has waitlist seats, sign up at your own peril. Waitlist seats are already filled seats in a class that can be given to the next student in line if an enrolled student drops the course. However, waitlist seats do not ensure a spot in the class. If no one drops the class, the waitlist seats become moot, and the waitlisted students will have to find another course to enroll in.

If you want to add a class after your registration period or add/drop period, contact the professor of your prospective course. You can appeal to these professors to be placed in their classes. Usually, it’s best to ask professors with open seats; however, you may also ask professors with full classes, because you won’t know until you try. Plenty of variables can create open spots in their classes, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Dropping a Class

Dropping a class is when you unenroll in a course. You may be wondering, “Is dropping a class in college bad?” You can drop a course for any reason (professor, classmates, disinterest, etc.), but make sure dropping is the right choice for you. You need to complete your degree, so just opting out of a required course of core class isn’t always the way to go. Drop only the courses you can afford to, or those that can be easily swapped for another. Otherwise, do not drop a course.

If you find your professor or some other non-content related aspect of your class to be unbearable, try changing sections instead of dropping. Every class has sections, which are divided classes of the same course for the purpose of favorable class size, time difference, or different professors leading. Changing sections will keep you in the same course with minimal consequential differences. If you’d like to change sections, contact your advisor; if your registration window is open, change your section yourself. 

If you are going to drop a course, do it within your school’s designated add/drop period. During this period you can add or drop a course with little to no repercussions. After the add/drop period, dropping is considered a withdrawal. Make sure to verify the last day to drop a class without receiving a w. 

TIP: Want to drop a class? Here’s wikiHow’s step-by-step article, “How to Drop a Class: 9 Steps (With Pictures).”

Withdrawing from a Class

After the add/drop period has ended, dropping a class is considered a “withdrawal.”  In withdrawing, you receive a “W,” or mark of withdrawal, on your transcript in place of a grade. The “W” will not affect your GPA, but it will remain on the transcript unless you retake the course, in which case it may be replaced with an “R.” To drop without a “W” and avoid withdrawal status, drop your class before your college’s specified date.

If I withdraw from a class do I have to pay for it? 

You can withdraw at any point during the year, but withdrawing earlier will refund more of your tuition. Some colleges have multiple withdrawal deadlines, after which a growing percentage of your tuition will not be refunded. Others require the class to be dropped before the first day to avoid charges. Withdrawing later won’t return much of your money, but it can save your GPA from low grades.

Does withdrawing from a class look bad? 

Many students avoid withdrawing altogether, going as far as to fail their classes than drop courses late, for fear of negative consequences. However, you will not be penalized for withdrawing from a course. While having too many withdrawals on your record can be cause for concern for your advisors and administration, withdrawals usually help more than hinder. Just be prepared to provide explanations if you transfer schools or intend to move on to grad or med school.

TIP: Not sure if withdrawing is right for you? For a guide to deciding on a W, check out admissionado.com’s blog post, “When Is It Okay To Withdraw From A College Course?

3. Ask for Help

Contact your academic advisor.

If you have difficulties with your classes, your advisor can likely help you. Whether your problems are with your studies, your classmates, or your professor, your academic advisor can help you find solutions in almost any area, or refer you to others who can better serve you. Your advisor knows a lot about the happenings on campus and can help you find study groups and resources, act as a mediator between you and another student or member of staff, or rework your schedule altogether.

TIP: Want to meet with your advisor? Check out USA TODAY’s article, “10 ways to make the most of academic advising appointments.”

Connect with Student Support Services.

Student Support Services is a program that works with students who are first-generation, low income, and have a documented disability. If you find yourself struggling in a class, in need of special aid, or help to finance your classes, Student Services might be able to help you.

TIP: Want to know more about what Student Support Services does? Find more info at topuniversities.com’s article, “7 Amazing Student Services You Definitely Need to Use.”

Dropping or withdrawing classes doesn’t have to be scary. Adding courses doesn’t have to be difficult. And enduring doesn’t have to be painful. Make the choices best for you and use all of the resources available to you to succeed!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

Political Activism for College Students

Despite making up more than half of the population, young adults (ages 18-30) often find themselves marginalized from mainstream politics and decision making. 

When given an opportunity to organize, voice our opinions and play a meaningful role in political decision making, young adults consistently demonstrate our willingness and ability to foster positive, lasting change. We also become more likely to demand and defend democracy, and gain a greater sense of belonging.

College campuses provide a multitude of opportunities for young adults to interact with diverse populations, exchange ideas, join organizations, and develop skills to think critically about the world we live in.

No matter your political viewpoint or worldview, it’s important to exercise your civic rights and stand for the messages you believe are worth it. Here are the 5 best tips for getting involved in politics as a college student: 

  1. Educate Yourself

Before you get into politics, you should know what you’re talking about and be able to hold an intelligent and thoughtful conversation about the issues. 

Read your local newspaper. Then read your state newspapers. Then read national publications: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and more. Whatever you can get access to, read it; with so many magazines and papers being published online now, accessibility has never been easier.

Start by picking a few topics that you care about or find interesting. They can be broad topics like foreign policy or immigration or more narrow topics like art education in public schools. One nice thing about democracy is that you choose what’s important to you. 

The next step is to learn about the structure of government. Which parts of the government are responsible for making and executing the decisions you care about?

It’s important to know who your local legislators and politicians are. First, find your House Representative, and enter your address to find a full list of your elected officials

Once you know who your elected officials are, talk to them! Tell them what’s on your mind: what concerns you, what you expect of them, what makes you proud to live in your state. Their job is to listen to you, so reach out frequently and respectfully to voice your opinions.

Here are some general guidelines on how to contact your elected officials

Once you start gathering information, share that knowledge! Have discussions with your friends and family. Engage in respectful debate when appropriate. Spread the word.

  1. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! 

Voting is the most fundamental form of civic engagement in a democracy. This is the easiest and most effective way for anybody to make a difference. 

First, and most importantly: check your voter registration status in your state. If you aren’t already registered, make sure you REGISTER TO VOTE!

Registering to vote is a relatively simple process, and can be done in a few different ways. In general, registrants will need to fill out a form and provide some type of approved ID, like a driver’s license. A social security card or number may also be required.

  • In person: Especially during election season, students will find plenty of opportunities to register to vote in person. Often, canvassers walk around campus with registration forms and can help you fill them out. Otherwise, you can register to vote at your state or local election office, the DMV, armed services recruitment centers or public assistance offices.
  • Online: Online registration is available in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Vote.gov can help you determine if online registration is available in your state and, if so, direct you to the right form.
  • By mail: Students can pick up a registration form in person or download one from your state’s voting website, fill it out and mail it in with any other necessary documents.

When registering to vote, you can select a political party affiliation. While you may choose not to affiliate with any of the major political parties, it may prevent you from being able to participate in caucuses and primary elections. Closed primaries are generally reserved for members of the Democratic and Republican parties to determine the candidate that will represent each group in the main election.

If you’re not sure whether to consider yourself a Democrat or Republican, that’s okay! The Pew Research Center offers a Political Party Quiz to help determine where you stand on important issues. 

The next step is to learn your state’s voting laws. College students living outside of their home state may register to vote in either the state of their school or in their official state of residence. 

If you choose to register in your state of residence, you must register to vote in that state and request an absentee ballot for your state to be sent to your University postal address.

The Fair Elections Center offers an annually updated guide to each state’s voting laws. A quick Google search should turn up the website for your state’s secretary of state, who often serves as the chief election official. These websites include information on election dates, absentee voting and other issues. 

Another great resource for educating yourself on the voting process is Rock the Vote, which is geared toward helping young people vote and provides all the information needed to vote in each state. 

If you want to vote on Election Day, come up with a plan to make sure you’re going to the right polling place, and going when it’s open. This might mean going early in the morning, between classes, or at the end of the day. Even better, share your plan to others, in person or on social media, to help you stay accountable.

Take it one step further by hosting a voter registration on campus to inspire your peers. Here is a comprehensive guide to hosting your very own Voter Registration event

  1. Join a Student Organization

Discovering an organization in which to align your political ideals is a great way to start getting involved quickly. They already have an established power structure, goals, a way to execute their plans and a pool of resources that an individual may not possess on their own. 

There are generally political organizations on campus that cover the entire political spectrum, from liberal to conservative and everything in between. Most schools will have a registry, as well as a description of the group, posted online for other students to get involved. Keeping your eye out for groups that host tabling events, post flyers and are active on campus is the best way to find one without actively looking. Below are two organizations that are available to college students: 

College Republican National Committee

Find a College Republican Chapter in your state. 

Young Democrats of America

Learn more about this youth-led political organization

  1. Participate in or Organize Political Rallies

Don’t be afraid to advocate for a political issue that’s important to you. As a college student, you may be unsure about your political affiliation, but likely, you feel strongly about a variety of topics. Join a rally or march to add your voice to the choir. Or, if you want to be an organizer, hold your own awareness-raising event. 

Once you determine a pressing issue, learn all you can about it. Look for other students or community members that feel the same way. Work together to plan an event that will spread the word about your issue. Chanting, sign-holding and marching at an event might feel uncomfortable, but they’re powerful ways to get attention for your cause. If you have something bigger in mind, contact state or national groups that might be willing to help you out.

However, before you start protesting – learn the basics and take note of any important details. The American Civil Liberties Union’s guide to protesting rights will let you look up your state’s permit requirements and other prerequisites.

  1. Volunteer on a Political Campaign

Every political campaign – whether it be for your local school board, a state legislature, or Congress – needs hard workers, people serving as the boots on the ground.

Volunteering on a campaign can mean making phone calls (known as phone banking), sending text messages, or canvassing door-to-door to advocate for a political candidate. Every election cycle, campaigns rely on “on the ground” volunteers to spread grassroots enthusiasm about their candidate and their cause.

In the United States, the most popular form of volunteering tends to be for presidential campaigns, but the presidency is hardly the only office in American politics. First-time volunteers might find their time is more effectively spent advocating for local representatives, whose policies more directly affect their day-to-day lives.

In conclusion, the best place to start getting politically active is within your own mind, forming opinions and values based upon your experience and the shared truth of others. 

5 First Steps to Political Involvement in College 

  1. Educate Yourself
  2. Vote!
  3. Join a Student Organization
  4. Participate in or Organize Political Rallies
  5. Volunteer on a Political Campaign

No matter what your motivation is to get active, it’s important that you do. Without exercising your right to assemble and petition the government, nothing will ever change. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum or whom you vote for, what matters is not being a passive citizen, but rather an active one that strives for better.

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Be sure to connect with us, @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/guides/year-of-living-better/how-to-participate-in-government
  2. https://advocatesforyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Youth-Activist-Toolkit.pdf 
  3. https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/student-activism-on-campus/
  4. https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/promoting-student-political-engagement-and-awareness-university
  5. https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/student-voting-guide/#test2