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It seems like there’s always some kind of fad challenge or dare circulating around social media, especially for college students. But how often are the true meanings of those challenges actually known?

Take, for example, this month’s No-Shave November. While beards and fury legs emerge just in time for the dropping temperatures, some students may not realize the reason why they let their follicles free.

The goal of No-Shave November is for participants to embrace the hair that is so often lost by cancer patients and donate the money typically spent on shaving and upkeep to cancer prevention and education resources.

Or what about the ALS ice bucket challenge that took the country by storm during the summer of 2014? More than 17 million people uploaded videos of themselves getting doused with icy water.

But it’s hard to say how many participants knew or took the time to find out that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease, which slowly breaks down someone’s motor neurons.

Patients lose voluntary muscle action and can eventually become totally paralyzed. The continued breakdown of the neurons eventually leads to death.

It’s a terrifying disease, one that offers a stark contrast to the jovial videos of people shrieking as they’re doused.

The point is, if someone wants to dedicate some of their time to a challenge like these or simply donate to a fund, they should also take the time to learn what exactly they’re putting their support behind.

College students have access to some of the most extensive research and education tools of anybody, why not use it?

This isn’t to say these kinds of challenges shouldn’t also be attempted for the sake of personal fulfillment and enjoyment; everybody has their own set of goals to keep themselves going.

Students often participate in NaNoWriMo, a month-long challenge with the goal of writing a full-length novel by the end of November, as a way to break up the stresses of regular classes. There’s even a page on the NaNoWriMo forum dedicated to participants in Bellingham.

Without a doubt, there are hundreds of other challenges circulating on social media every day. They can be fun, they can be challenging and they can be inspiring. It’s all about taking the time to find out what they mean to you.

Or there’s always the option of just creating your own personal challenge. Maybe you have experience dealing with another disease or condition and want to raise awareness, or maybe raise money for your favorite charity. Or maybe you just want to step out of your comfort zone for a while.

Start a blog and document your journey, or post videos on YouTube or Facebook. You never know, you could end up starting the next trend in social media charity campaigns.

Or keep it private, not every goal has to be broadcast to everyone in your social circle if you don’t want it to be.

Whatever challenges or goals we set for ourselves, the suggestion remains — make them wise ones. Our time is valuable, so we should put forth the effort to make sure we don’t waste it.


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