1. Everyone automatically assumes you are pre-law. "Political science, huh? Gonna go to law school?" I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this. I mean, maybe. But I could choose not to and be okay.
And even though you tell everyone you are pre-law because it raises the fewest questions, you constantly question what kind of graduate program you want to pursue. Do I really want to practice law? Would I even be good at it? I really want to study social cleavages in France, so maybe I should get a Ph.D. instead. But do I want to risk being poor for the rest of my life, instead of just the foreseeable future?
Your natural science-oriented friends are convinced your major is easy. Okay, so maybe we are not required to take organic chemistry, but I would love to see many of my biology major friends take an upper level political science course. Different brains work different ways, and y'all better be glad you have people like us to run your government someday.
When you meet students in your major for the first time you immediately feel out what political party they belong to. Within five minutes, you can usually tell which side of the aisle your new classmate falls on and, thus, where in the room they will sit. Political parties form cliques that grow over time until the entire department sits firmly in one camp or the other. There is the occasional curveball who dresses like a Republican and thinks like a Democrat, which, depending on your party, can either be incredibly disappointing or incredibly exciting.
Your life is a never ending series of political internships. Once you've done one political campaign, you are forever either thinking about doing another one, or actually running in one. The sense of community is addicting and is much like a romantic fling in that it is fun to be devoted for a few months and then it is over. Whether it ends well, or poorly, you have incredible memories.
You never want to take anything outside your major. Why on earth would I want to take a music or astronomy class when I can be learning about governments in Eastern Asia?
Your TAs are so cool that you want to be friends with them. The Ph.D. candidates who teach a good 50 percent of your classes are somewhere between friends and instructors, especially if you are someone like me who likes to wiggle into classes with them. Sitting across from someone who is cursing like a sailor and was teaching you two semesters ago is beyond surreal.
There is that one who is so attractive it makes you question your commitment to your academics. Let's be real, they are only a few years older than us. It is not weird on an age level, but it is on a power dynamics level. Even if he or she is not, and has never been, your instructor you can bet that he or she is friends with several people who are, or have been.
There is always that one non-major in your class who loves to talk. Please, if you do not know anything at all about political science, do not take a 400-level class just because it sounds interesting.
Natural science people constantly question the validity, necessity, and complexity of political science research. It is difficult enough to explain what type of research political scientists do to people who are not familiar with the discipline, but it becomes even more so when people fail to understand why that research is necessary. How do we expect to solve conflicts if we do not understand what causes them? We can use our knowledge about why bad things happen in the world to prevent them from happening. That is why I care whether it is more likely language protection, or protection of secularity, that fuels the rampant Islamophobia in France. That is why there are people who risk their lives going into post-conflict countries that have experienced backsliding from democracy into another totalitarian regime. We need to understand the why, to know how to fix it.
You are torn between wanting to run for office some day and wanting to have a fun time in college. While we keep it PG on our social networking, every time we go out we run the risk of a friend or a stranger snapping an incriminating photo that could potentially ruin any chances of holding public office in twenty years. So do we stay in and read Locke and Goldman and Burke, like a good political science major or do we go live a little? If the disheveled state of my bedroom is any indication, there is a good chance we go with the former.
You always vote in midterm elections. You, unlike almost all your friends, understand the importance of the federal and state legislatures and never miss a chance to proudly wear that "I Voted" sticker.
You find yourself distracted from schoolwork by current events. How can I date craters on the surface of Europa when the Supreme Court is doing something that is probably terrifying?
You had that one class that made you rethink your entire political ideology and it shakes you down to your core. I went through my whole life thinking that because I believe in the tenets of the Democratic Party, I was also surely a liberal, only to find out that I actually believe in more of the tenets of anarchism than liberalism, something I vaguely thought had something to do with molotov cocktails and V for Vendetta, until a month before. What do you do with this information? I am typing this on a MacBook and I do not think democracy is the worst and I love my family and it is just too much for me to handle.
You have had your fair share of interesting instructors. Whether or not you disagree with them, that professor who teaches his or her beliefs as fact is the worst person in the world. They will try their hardest to be impartial, but political science instructors will always slip up and give you some clue as to how they feel about things. Sometimes, that will mean that you are learning American Government from a member of the Tea Party.
You probably have a second major, or a minor or two. Almost every political science major has another field of study, usually in psychology, a foreign language, history, or something in the humanities. I even have a friend whose double major is in biology because he wants to go into public health. This is usually to boost competitiveness for graduate schools and it works quite nicely since virtually everything relates back to political science.
At the end of the day, political science always has your heart. As much as I love my other major, the classes I look forward to attending when I wake up in the morning are my political science classes. And if that does not speak volumes for the discipline, I don't know what could.