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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

How to be a political science major

For starters, you’ll want to be the sort of person who wants to go to Notre Dame. You’ll want to be ambitious and tall and sort of snotty but mostly polite, and ideally you’ll have a British accent, but ideally you’ll also be from Chicagoland. Second, get into Notre Dame. In order to do this, you’ll want to be wealthy or smart or a congressman’s son or really good at throwing a ball. Got in? Good!

Search the online catalogs of majors. Consider English. Consider sociology. Consider marketing. Consider pre-law. Pre-law isn’t a major? Choose marketing. Marketing sucks. You have to take accounting and finance, and you’re bad at accounting and finance. Sometimes people ask you what marketing is, and all you know for sure is that it’s not the same as advertising, so you say, “It’s not the same as advertising, I’ll tell you that!” Almost fail finance. Do well in all of your University requirements and wonder why you don’t spend your time doing stuff like that for your major. Watch an incendiary political speech on YouTube. Get upset. Tell your roommate how upset you are and how wrong this is and how you could totally write a paper proving that. Disobey their advice to go to bed. Wake them up an hour later with the revelation that you’d like to be a poli-sci major.

Ignore your mother’s claim that “poli-sci majors don’t get jobs.” Tell her marketing majors don’t get jobs either and the job market is really bad right now, so you might as well study something you’re passionate about. Wait till Dad calms her down. Meet with your dean. “Why not double major?” she asks. Ignore the question. Eat a Twix bar on your walk back to the dorm. Think about it more that night. Realize that more than you want to be a poli-sci major, you really just don’t want to be a business major because it makes you feel icky and stupid, and it kind of feels like you’re not learning anything, and your GPA was so much better than this in high school and when did Mom and Dad stop prioritizing your GPA? Eat another Twix bar.

Register for your first two poli-sci courses and be astounded by how interesting they are. Learn about Congress and foreign affairs and historical scandals and finally learn what the filibuster is. Tell all your friends about the filibuster and how it’s such a big issue, but since it always advantages one of the parties, neither will vote to get rid of it. Ignore their counterargument that you should stop interrupting them when they’re trying to study. Get an A on your first paper. Get an A- on your second paper. Find out Patrick got an A on the second paper, and wonder how you got so much dumber between the two papers. Ask yourself if maybe the business school wasn’t to blame. Ask yourself if you’re just dumb. Ask yourself if you deserve to be here. Eat a Twix bar. Go to bed. 

Check your final grades, and find that you got an A- in both of your first two poli-sci classes. Realize that this is the sort of major where it’s somehow really hard to get as high as an A but also really hard to get as low as a B+. Get seven more A-’s and one flat out B because that professor hated you and didn’t believe you when you got mono and because that one girl really didn’t help on the group project, but she’s on the soccer team, so maybe it’s not her fault or whatever, but also she rides a scooter everywhere and that always bugs you, so feel annoyed about it anyway. Tell your roommate how unfair it was that she didn’t help write her portion of the paper. Ignore him as he asks, “Is that your third Twix bar today?”

Learn about the world and how different governments work and don’t work. Learn about the decline of democracy in India. Learn about the decline of democracy in Europe. Learn about the decline of democracy in America. Learn a lot about America. Learn a little bit about the UK, learn a couple fun facts about China and then learn a lot more about America. Learn that America is the biggest, strongest, sexiest country with the most hot dogs, atom bombs and porno mags. Wonder what you’d learn if you studied poli-sci somewhere else. Think about it over another Twix. Think about your high school trip to Argentina and your conversation with a local when you asked something about how they perceive America and how they gave you a befuddled look and said, “To us, this is America.” 

Learn about ways to reverse the decline of democracy. Learn why none of them seem to work. Think about your friend studying sustainability who tells you how the world’s gonna boil alive, and think about your friend studying economics who tells you that we’re up for another recession soon, and think about your friend studying psychology who tells you that the mental health crisis among young people is the greatest threat to the world today and wonder what the hell is going on. Wonder if we’re just supposed to fix all of this someday or if maybe professors are making it all up or if the world’s just about finished. Have a panic attack. Go for a walk. Eat another Twix. 

Click your heels together three times fast, and suddenly you’re a senior. You’re graduating in May. Apply for jobs. Apply for consulting jobs. Apply for marketing jobs. Apply for advertising jobs. Apply, apply, apply. Go to the career center. Ignore their request that you not eat a Twix during the meeting. Get some guy’s phone number. Call the guy. Get mad that he didn’t give you a job. Wonder if your mom was right. Worry about leaving school, worry about losing your friends, worry that you chose the wrong major, worry that maybe you’re as good as finished at 22 years old. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Call your mom. Have a Twix. Check if it’s too late to switch to accounting.

Daniel Lucke


Feb. 27

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.