What Studying Politics in College Really Teaches you

This is for those who are interested in politics or for those who have studied it, and hopefully share my sentiments. I studied political science in undergrad and then public policy in graduate school, here is what I learned from dabbing into this field for six years:

 

There are always winners and losers

People have a tendency to envision and talk about a perfect solution; the ultimate solution to income inequality or health care, for example. The more I have researched and discussed case studies like what country ‘A’ did to solve problem ‘Z’, for example, the more that I have come to realize that there is no perfect policy or solution. No matter what is done or implemented anywhere, there will always be people who feel that they got the raw end of the deal. The key is to think in numbers, to consider what helps the highest percentage of people…but even that mindset has arguments to counter it.


Ideology is rooted in experiences

Most people’s beliefs and voting patterns are based on their personal experiences in the world. It’s a bummer because you’re always going to meet someone whose beliefs are so against your own that you are going to want to convince them otherwise, but, more times than not, this doesn’t work. I’ve found that people need to figure out their belief systems on their own terms. In other words, we can and should hope that people with hateful beliefs experience what they need to in life to turn them against their own beliefs, but, at the same time, we have to accept that we may not be able to personally do that for them. If you constantly remind yourself of this you won’t have problems, or will have less problems, with people who have different views than you. Remember that we’re all just trying to do what is best for us. Respect differences as much as you can.

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Money talks 

It’s ignorant to think that it doesn’t matter, this is an entity that has kept and will continue to keep many people from fulfilling their potential. Having some money means being able to go to elitist schools and / or expensive schools, not having to take out loans, not having to work during school, being able to do unpaid internships, and / or being able to go abroad. Not having money often means the opposite. Always know where you stand, try to understand the implications it holds, and believe that there will always be opportunities for those who are willing to work hard. If there are external factors stacked against you, know them, but don’t give up because of them. We always have to try.


Grades matter but not as much as you think

I focused way too much on grades in school but I guess it is hard for some people not too. Grades can get you awards, scholarships, recommendations and / or into a graduate program. Grades cannot give you a professional network or a job, you need social skills and skills, in general, for that. There are successful people who cared about grades in school and successful people who didn’t.


Everyone just wants to change things for the better

In the study of politics, you’ll meet: advocate types, politician types, anarchist types, scientist types and many more types. We will always differ in our views but will make up for it in our mutual commitment to help people and to make things better – even if we do differ in our ideas on how to get there. Politics is for people who are interested in people and change.

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