1 For most people, college is usually the next step after high school. Today, many high school students are expected to go to college, and it seems as if one cannot find a good job without a college degree. Most students who apply are accepted by college and go through the motions. They complete the general education requirements and pick a major that is interesting or that would lead to a good job, and then graduate in four years with a bachelor’s degree. Some students continue on to graduate school, primarily because a master’s degree will give then that extra edge in the job application process. Lately, it appears as if getting a good, high-paying job is the only reason to attend college and that there is no difference between a liberal arts school, a vocational school, or a community school. The very meaning behind a liberal arts education was to have well-rounded, intellectual individuals who were educated in many different areas. Thus, in order to obtain a liberal arts degree, one had to be knowledgeable in areas such as history, science, mathematics, literature, art, and music. Centuries ago, it was understood that men should be educated so they could work. Especially during and after the American Revolution, republicanism went hand in hand with civic virtue and liberty. “Republican motherhood,” also became a major issue during this time as women were expected to learn about liberty and democracy, so they could teach their sons about republicanism. Civic virtue was a large part of the 1760s that extended well into the 19th century. People were expected to participate in their government, because it ensured that the government would not become corrupt. Benjamin Franklin also believed in the common good for society. He believed that the only way to move up in society was to fulfill one’s civic duty. Civic duty used to be tied in with the American Dream. However, if the American Dream today is going to college and being successful, why is civic participation decreasing? 2 I believe my generation needs to become more involved in our government. It does not matter if that involvement starts with the student government on college campuses, just as long as they are involved with a type of government. I think most college students are not civically engaged, because they feel that most things do not apply to them. They are apathetic because no one really tries to get them involved. Politicians do not bother campaigning to people who are 18-25 because they do not vote, and they do not vote because they are not “campaigned to;” politicians don’t bother trying to get them to vote. I think students need to realize that issues can and do affect them at almost every civic level. For example, normally I was not concerned with the state budget because it did not directly affect me. However, when the budget was cut this past year and my college tuition went up, I had no idea why. With the help of the Student Government Association, we petitioned and wrote letters to Governor Corzine, and our voices were heard. I realized that my voice could affect things that I did not agree with. I just needed to be involved. Many college students are passionate about various issues, but few know what they can do about it, or how it relates to their government. Students need to be shown how their concerns relate to something, and usually there is something that can be done about it. Last year, I campaigned for student government senate along with fourteen other students. Most students did not care about the student government election, until we explained to them that their issues were valid and that we would work on them if elected. In that election we had the largest amount of students voting-- ever. In order to get students involved, I think schools need to incorporate programs into the curriculum that show students how their concerns relate to the bigger picture. Perhaps, create a mandatory class that discusses these concerns, rather than relying on classes that preach theories about government policies. I think students look at previous and/or current policies and think that 3 there is nothing that they can do to change them. Most of the time, people need to be taken by the hand and shown that there are ways to change things, and that things will affect them eventually. I also think that students should be shown how the government affects their careers, since it will be my generation that will soon be major contributors to the economy, if we are not already. Many people feel swamped with all of the rules and regulations of this government, and they do not know where to begin. They need to be shown that they can begin anywhere and at any time. I think we also need to learn how to coexist, no matter what our beliefs and/or political views. Many people are taught beliefs from a young age, and they stick to those beliefs-- like sticking to a particular side. For years, it has always been mainly Democrats versus Republicans. Each one always talks about what the other is doing wrong. I think we need to show college students that it is not wrong to have similar beliefs as someone who does not necessarily believe in everything you believe. Democrats and Republicans can agree on things. Instead of separating because of small differences, I think we should work together to change the causes we both believe in. Democracy is supposed to be for the people. However, if the people do not participate and accept their responsibilities to be active in our government, then there will be no democracy to run. If citizens do not speak out about what they think, politicians will just assume that we agree with everything they do. It is our duty as citizens of a democracy to civically participate consider to become civically engaged on the local, state, and federal levels. We need to show everyone how important their voices are to this government. All it takes is one voice-- one person to start an idea or solution.