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Does College Produce Political Activists?

October 22, 2010

I had an idea at lunch today about political activism at college. I was listening to the Adam Carolla Show (the guest was Mike Rowe, who grew up a few miles from me, it was cool hearing him discuss his childhood), but yeah, they were talking about college educations and how it makes people different. Their specific examples were about drinking $4 coffee and viewing plumbers as lesser people, but I, being me, applied it to politics.

 

When we think college and politics, we immediately (I immediately, anyways) have our mind go to crazy political activism. Since Adam and Mike were discussing college vs. no college, I thought I’d apply my thoughts along that perspective. So, does college produce political activists? Or is it something else?

 

I think in order for me to make my point I need to look at about 17 or 18 years old. My high school had 100% of our students go onto college, but let’s look at a general public school. Who goes to college? There’s always going to be exceptions, but I’m going to generalize for a bit. Smart people went to college. They could get in pretty easily. Rich people went. Motivated people as well. And a lot of mediocre people, but let’s ignore them for now. Who didn’t go? Everyone else. They all became the blue collar workers of the world, or working at McDonalds or something like that (minus the exceptions).

 

Now let’s look at the typical man or woman that cares remotely about politics and is actually smart enough to hold their own opinions on topics. Intelligent, educated, well read, and a passion for politics all come to mind.

 

Based on this, it’s my opinion that college doesn’t actually make people political activists, but it in fact attracts  the smart, well read, competent, thinking people that have a tendency toward political activism. Political activism at this stage in life is decided not in college, but rather the middle/high school years. All college is is a forum for smart people to get together and share ideas.

 

I’ve also heard stories of people who become politically radicalized in college. My thoughts on that are that the seeds of that were planted previously and this exchange of ideas only confirmed what he/she already “knew to be true”.

 

So don’t blame college, blame the environment he/she grew up in.

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