Students aren't always known for their best decisions. Most decisions revolve around bar-hopping, football game bets and whether or not to go to class. This year students have the potential to decide the future of America by voting in the national election.

Most students understand the importance of civic responsibility.

"I believe that it is my responsibility to vote and put my voice out there and show that I care about what happens to this country," said Katherine Cahill, junior in English. "We're learning how to be adults right now and (voting) is an adult responsibility."

Being on a college campus accelerates the growing-up process. Voting is a key role to displaying maturity and obligations to America.

"It's a big step in showing that we don't just care about us but about what happens to the world around us," Cahill said.

Many students share Cahill's views but are still frustrated with the voting system.

"Generally speaking, (it's) really important. But I have grown to resent politics at the national scale," said Nathan Johnston, senior in journalism and electronic media. Johnston is also the former president of the Tennessee Speech and Debate Society and the current coach and tournament director.

According to the U.S. Census, approximately 23 million citizens under the age of 30 voted in the 2008 presidential election, which is a considerably higher amount than elections past. Young people have an opportunity to make a difference at the country, state and local levels.

Kasey Piarrot, a judge for the Tennessee Speech and Debate Society, stresses the importance of the student vote.

"We, as a group, need to take initiative to take care of ourselves," said Piarrot. "We need to start helping the decision making in our country instead of talking about what shoes to buy."

Young people have an obligation to act in the best interest of their country.

"The change needs to happen sooner (rather) than later or they'll most likely never learn and never change," said Piarrot.

In order to fulfill their civic duties, students must register to vote.

Many students who want to vote are too far away from home to vote on Election Day or participate in early voting.

"I've never done absentee voting, and I never really considered it," Kristen Sales, undecided sophomore, said.

Sales is not alone. Many students who have considered absentee voting have no idea how the process works or where to start.

Several websites are available to aid students in registering for absentee voting. Clubs and groups on campus are also hosting voter registration drives to help students prepare for November 6.

Lisa Dicker, junior in political science and Asian studies and a student intern for the Baker Center and a Baker Ambassador, encourages students to utilize available resources for registering to vote.

"(The Baker Center) will be having many locations on campus this year assisting students with registration," said Dicker.

"For instance, a table will be set up in Hodges Library between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day between now and Oct. 5th."

Registration drives help make "the process quick and simple," continued Dicker, saying that the Baker Center will send in completed forms.

Registering to vote is one of the most important freedoms Americans possess. In order to participate in the democratic process, make sure to register to vote. Whether it's through absentee voting, early voting or going home to participate in Election Day, make your vote count.

Students can also register at their local DMV, armed forces recruitment center or post office. Websites available for registration include and

The deadline for Tennessee voter registration is Monday, Oct. 8.