What to Expect
Political science students know their left wing from their right wing.
They study the development of political systems and the way politics shapes
society at home and around the world.
Tony Hahn took graduate studies in political science. He became interested
in political science in a high school economics class.
"My economics teacher showed me that there was a huge risk involved when
governments spend more than they take in. Deficits and debt are merely deferred
taxes on the next generation and I realized that it was my generation that
would have to pick up the tab. I decided to get involved with politics through
studying political science at the university."
You will become accustomed to a heavy reading load and learn to deal
with a diverse set of individuals and ideas. Yet there are a few more
activities you must find the time to do.
Keeping up with the world's events in the newspapers and on the
news is extremely important. Hahn surfs the Internet in search of websites
of various think-tanks to see what kind of innovative work they are doing.
Time management is also important. "It's not that college has any more
work than high school; it's that more time is spent in independent learning
than in a classroom listening to a lecture," says Teresa Bailey. She studied
political science at the University of Pennsylvania's Erie Behrend College.
Hahn agrees. "In the university, your grades depend a lot on you and the
willingness you have to do the work." Some days he spent no time on homework;
other days he spent five or six hours.
How to Prepare
Hahn recommends taking economics, geography, history and law courses
in high school whenever possible. He also emphasizes the importance of English
to be able to communicate effectively, and a second language to gain a sense
of the lifestyles of other cultures.
He also says getting involved in the school newspaper or the debating
club is important.
Bailey benefited from attending advanced placement classes in history and
government in high school. They helped her prepare for the amount of reading
she would confront in college and gave her the discipline to stick with an
assignment even though "reading about governments on paper is not always exciting
and inspiring because it is not very tangible."
Bailey suggests getting involvement with student government organizations
and a model UN.