At some point or another, you will find yourself being asked: "What is your major?" As any young student, during the time before college and during my time at community college I had been pulled (figuratively) in a million different directions. From Criminology to Education, to Health Sciences, and back around again. When I received my associate degree from Hillsborough Community College in education studies I had the intentions of becoming an educator, and with all due respect, this profession is admirable. They truly deserve all the credit in the world in educating the children of our future -BUT- when it came down to what I was going to declare my major as at the University of South Florida, with no hesitation I quickly declared to my advisor that I would be a political science major. All along I had been "running" from what I had always loved but thought I could not do due to self-doubt and even due to what preconceived future plans I had. But I knew I had more potential than what I was leading myself to. After meeting with that advisor I truly found the major I loved and was meant to study. Now, this was not something that one day randomly popped into my mind but instead a passion I have had for quite some time now. Dating back to Elementary School I would sometimes actually "play judge", where I was the judge in the courtroom. I remember watching the Bush/Gore and Bush/Kerry presidential RNC's and DNC's. During middle school and high school watching the presidential debates of all the candidates in the running during the 2008 and 2012 elections, and all of the time in between taking classes and learning about history, our government, and the international systems around us. I have always had a passion in the major of political science and as cliche, as it sounds, I want to make the world a better place. Policies that help those who are less privileged than I and those who seem to be struggling in our world in some way is something I am fervent about. Needless to say, the combination proved to be the perfect major for me (not to mention I am no mathematician so that was not in my foreseeable future)! I want to explain why I love this major so much and how necessary it is to have political science majors.
For those who do not know exactly what it is we study in this major, let me just say that it covers a broad range of subjects. The main subfields of political science are Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Empirical Political Analysis, and American Public Policies. Not only are we required to learn from these subfields but we also draw upon history, economics, sociology, law, anthropology, geography, psychology, and even science research in the social sciences area. Political science is not just a study about liberal vs. conservative, blue vs. red, who is right and wrong etc. While we may have our own political beliefs we have to also keep in mind to keep political punditry at bay, especially depending on what subfield we are learning about. So while we follow our *yes, bias* news networks whether it be MSNBC, Fox News, or CNN, we also look at multiple reputable news sources for our daily news updates on what is going on in the world. *Shout out to BBC News, NPR, PBS, The Economist, and The Atlantic!* Knowing to take information or news that sounds outright "sketchy" and researching the statement for yourself will do you wonders. Just a PSA: be aware of "fake news" and how to spot if it is biased.
Now while our major doesn't exactly study science in the same sense of being a bio-med major, there is a science component to our studies. Hence people becoming political scientists researching and carrying out different political case studies, surveys, and statistical analysis, with being impartial and non-partisan as possible. They solely carry out their research while giving FACTS and that the data given are the true outcome of a particular study. They are reliable.
Another aspect of our major is that we read and write. And I mean we read and write A TON. We have to learn and analyze different political theories from philosophers and economists of all time periods. It causes us to critically evaluate different issues and while doing so hones in to teach us who we are and what we believe. We learn to think for ourselves and not what others around us want us to believe.
I love learning about the United States of course, but also what other countries and nation-states have in practice, policy, or in development and how we interact with each other on a global sphere. The knowledge of governmental institutions, political activity, and political behavior of individuals or of groups of individuals in the U.S. and abroad truly is fascinating; I feel as though I gain a new perspective of others different than I and I'm always curious to know new knowledge about things most people have never heard about (since many historical and current events aren't always broadcasted loud and clear for all to hear).
Now as far as careers in the study go not only can you become a political scientist with this degree but there is a plethora of careers you can go into, which as a college student, I feel is relieving! Most commonly people believe that most political science majors go to law school after receiving a political science degree, and while this is true, not all of them do. Some go on to receive Masters degrees and Ph.D's in other political science subfields, some people go on to be political scientists, lawyers, lobbyists, educators/professors, journalists, public relations specialists. Some go into government jobs working in any one of our branches, working nonprofit/ advocacy jobs, join the business sector, or work on a campaign at any government level, work as a military analyst, work for the intelligence community (such as the CIA or FBI), and that's only a handful of what you could possibly do. Needless to say, if you enjoy learning about political science you can most certainly find your niche in any of these endless career opportunities or learning experiences.
Being a political science major makes you a well-rounded individual in the sense that we learn A LOT about the world around us. Historical events of the past to the current events happening around us today. Because we learn about our past history and can keep up with the political events going on presently, it consistently keeps things interesting and there's always something to discuss, research, debate, and explore. Topics arise and we are very aware of what is going on in the world which is key to learning. Educating yourself on current events is always beneficial. As well as being beneficial it is useful and valuable knowledge in simply being a citizen. Pretty much everything can be related to politics in some form so there is never a dull moment in our world.
Hopefully I've given just a hint of information of what political science is, what we learn, what you can do with it, the significance of the degree, and most of all why I enjoy studying this major!