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Studying Politics in University: Why You Should, and Why You Shouldn’t

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

I’m a political science student at Queen’s University (well, the department is actually called “political studies” at my school, but program names vary). Personally, I am really happy with my decision to go through with this major. I have written, discussed, been challenged, and—most importantly—learned a lot thus far. While I could write for pages about how much I enjoy this program of study, I realize that it is not for everyone and that there are some very real cons to studying politics. After talking with classmates and friends, I collected some other perspectives and have decided to make a list of all the reasons you should, and all the reasons you shouldn’t study politics. Do keep in mind, these “sources” were compiled completely by me just chatting with peers to gather info—definitely not a research study of any kind!

Pro #1: Critical Thinking Skills

While this applies to many different programs in the social sciences and humanities, I feel that politics is a field that really promotes and teaches critical thinking at a higher level. Analyzing studies, formulating ideas, debating, the list goes on. Studying a topic in which people’s opinions differ so greatly (and are quite often polarizing), it encourages you to dissect everything you read and think thoughtfully about your opinions on certain topics.

Con #1: A whole lot of reading and a whole lot of writing

Get ready to read! Having a full course load, I regularly get assigned well over 150 pages of reading per week. While it may not seem like a lot of reading for some, as someone who struggles to stay focused for long periods of time and is a slow reader, it’s very time-consuming. Finding time for readings outside of class, work and other assignments is definitely hard. And speaking of those assignments, most of them are writing- and essay-based so mustering up multiple 3000-word papers is also pretty tiring! I know, I know, it sounds dramatic. Some people have to write a 40-page thesis! But still, writing 5+ papers per semester is a lot of work and requires a lot of research and reading. This is so much easier when you’re reading/writing about a topic you’re interested in, but the truth is, in university you will be forced to read/write about topics you find absolutely boring and daunting. Especially in politics where there are many subsections. From international relations, political theory, gendered politics and so much more, you are bound to not be crazy about everything you learn but you will have to read and write about them at some point throughout your undergraduate degree as a politics student! 

Pro #2: Creates well-rounded, global citizens

Literally ignore anyone who says “you can’t do anything with a politics degree”. Politics degrees teach critical thinking, world/global issues, the foundations of democracy and so much more. This is crucial knowledge for global citizens; understanding the backbone of the system that controls the country economically and socially, understanding what causes international tension, and so much more. Politics programs provide great insight into the world around you, and that in and of itself is valuable! On top of that, the program teaches you how to stay informed on things that are happening in the world. How to dissect news and research, how to engage in political discourse, and so much more. Studying politics doesn’t guarantee that you will always know what’s going on in the world around you, but it teaches you how to do so. 

Pro/Con #3: Engaging in discourse on global issues every single day 

Talking, reading, writing and thinking about global issues every single day can be emotionally draining for some people. It’s a uniquely overwhelming feeling to learn that there is consistently some really messed up stuff happening all around the world. It can leave you feeling helpless knowing that there isn’t much you can do on an individual level to immediately put a halt to it. However, if making the world a better place is a passion of yours, give those negative feelings a meaning and let them drive you to do so! If that resonates with you, getting to talk about this stuff on a daily basis is certainly a pro.

I love this program (most of the time) but not everyone does! I hope this somewhat biased opinion gives you some insight into the field of study, and if it’s something that might be right for you!

Layla Artzy

Queen's U '25

I'm a 3rd-year student at Queen's University studying Politics. Some of my favourite things include vegan restaurants, coffee, self-care, the outdoors, and a good time with friends and family!