The words typically associated with Political Science (PolSci) majors are ‘argumentative,’ ‘politician,’ and ‘readings.’ While these do have relevance to the course, the stereotypes associated with it can be a bit daunting.
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That said, here are some truths about political science coming from a sophomore student of the course!
- The course is not *just* readings
You will still have the lengthy hundreds-of-pages-long Plato and Aristotle works, but the course is so much more than just slogging through text! Political Science is a vibrant field of study through discussion and analysis.
Your professors don’t just ask about the significance of texts today; they give real-life examples of concepts and how to apply frameworks in the real world! They make you ask yourself fundamental questions such as what democracy means and why it even matters in the first place. They encourage you to think outside of the box by making you look into political frameworks and even create your own!
- Trying to understand material—not memorizing—is the most important part
Contrary to popular belief, Political Science is not purely a memorization course. Sure, names and ideologies are important and you should take note of key terms, but they aren’t everything!
The heart of Political Science is working to understand material, and part of that includes both asking and answering questions. More often than not, the best part about the course is the ideology that asking the question can be more important than finding the answer. The most crucial thing is realizing why this question is being asked, then trying to understand further from there!
- The subjects don’t breed activism; they actually foster independent thinking
PolSci is said to be a course that only fosters rebellious behavior, when it is actually the opposite. As much as possible, the professors don’t like to impose or discuss their personal ideologies. They instead prefer to talk about the pros and cons of each side and leave things up to the interpretation of the student!
Instructors have been trained to not entangle their personal and professional affairs, so when someone has a different view, the teachers wish to understand why. In that sense, the skill developed here is the ability to think independently and reason out accordingly!
- The discussions in the course are both discouraging and encouraging
Talking about national affairs is a double-edged sword. There are outlooks that suggest good always prevails over evil, and there are others that openly accept that corruption and nepotism render our democratic system beyond repair. It is an interesting yin-and-yang situation that makes the course both hopeful and hopeless.
What you’ll realize, though, is that political science is a gray area. It cannot be classified simply as happy or sad, good or bad, and the like. The field is incredibly complex, and the only way to unravel even parts of it is to soak yourself in the study!
- Discipline and diligence are key to doing well
Like any other course, PolSci is a discipline, and it requires that respect. You have to treat it seriously, which means putting in the time to do the readings, write the outlines, proofread the essays, and polish the presentations.
Your work may not always be perfect, but applying yourself is a general no-fail method to thrive in the course! By managing your time wisely and treating the course with the rigor it deserves, you will be rewarded academically and maybe even personally.
Having that work ethic also grants you a personal connection with your course. At its core, political science is about people, including people you one day want to serve. Treat it that way, and you’ll no doubt navigate it easier.
- You’ll figure out your path throughout the course
Another common stereotype about being a Political Science student is you automatically want to be a politician. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be one, it’s not the only path! Being a lawyer, political scientist, journalist, professor, and the like are still viable career options post-graduation.
Most importantly, each PolSci major’s journey is different! There are even those who do completely different things after political science, like going into data analytics, consultancy, and even non-governmental organizations.
- You’ll enjoy yourself
All that said, you will enjoy your time in the course!
Even with insanely long research proposals, last-minute essay assignments, and lengthy readings, it is a thought-provoking and meaningful field. In an ever-changing political landscape, it is actually a breather that helps you express what you feel, think, and envision politics to be.
Be it through heartfelt reflections, interesting insights from readings, brilliant professors you learn from, or friends you meet along the way, political science will change your life in the best ways possible.