Before heading off my freshman year, I was told college was a time for exploration, or experimentation, depending on which crazy uncle was recalling his glory days. Without a doubt, college exposes
you to new ideas, new people and an abundance of new experiences that set the tone for your future.
After college, as recent graduates head out on their own, self-reflection is among one of our greatest past times. As so much is changing around us, we're eager to have at least some internal stability. We want to pinpoint what we like and what we're all about. In other words, now that we've had our chance to experiment, we want to make sense of it all. Though we may deny it, this means that we begin to establish some routines.
One of the more subtle routines we fall into is in the form of our media consumption. (See the article "The Making of News Junkies" for more information.) For instance, when I was taking notes in class with my laptop, the Internet satiated my news and entertainment needs. When between classes, I would pick up the student-run paper that was deposited in every corner of every building in order to contribute my much sought-after opinion about our latest campus drama. Throughout the halls, I found myself jamming to the student-run radio station, and when walking home, I turned to my iPod until I would walk into my apartment to cuddle with my roommates while we watched the tube.
Now that I'm working the 9 to 5, many of my habits remain in tact. When I'm sitting behind the desk, I consult the internet to catch up on my news. During lunch breaks, I'll browse through the newspaper and on my way home I listen to WJJK. IF I had cable set up in my new place, my work day would be sandwiched with CNN viewing.
So as the industry scrambles to discover more about college students' preferences, what is most important is simply to be on the scene. Different media platforms work best in different situations - you just need to stake your claim. Furthermore, as traditional media platforms fear displacement, perhaps they can find relief in the fact that human nature is on their side. With the exception of a few individuals and phases in our lives, we love routine. Although we may disguise it as a preference, the reality is that we usually prefer those things that are most familiar to us. So if college is in fact a crucial time for media habit formation, as I believe it is, perhaps you ought to consider supporting the student-run platforms in colleges as a means of keeping your platform relevant and in the routine.