An introduction to my degree
A 2007 graduate of Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and Philosophy. On the “six year plan,” I never changed any of my concentrations; just kept adding. I also picked up a non-credit certificate for a course taken in entrepreneurship and, within my last two semesters, earned a 12-credit certificate in a then-brand new program called Integrated Leadership.
The value of co-curricular activities and their “real world” impact on me
In addition to my formal studies, though, I took advantage of many opportunities available outside of the classroom to learn. I was heavily involved in my school’s student government during all six years, eventually coming to serve a year as its president; I was a member of the Model United Nations team for five of my six years, eventually serving as president for two of them; I weighed in with my thoughts from time to time on school-related and political and societal issues as an opinion writer for the campus newspaper; I was a board member of the Residence Hall Association for a couple years, serving as the chief liaison between residents and food service management; I co-founded the campus’ philosophy club; I dabbled briefly with my own music and talk shows on the campus radio station. I can go on and on.
Together with my formal in-class studies and the subsequent degree it brought me, these experiences comprise a significant portion of my overall education, for it was through these student clubs, organizations, and activities that I built my leadership, negotiating, speaking, and writing skills, among others. They supplemented my in-class, largely theoretical, work, for they provided me with avenues and outlets for which to apply what I was learning in the classroom to real decision making that affected real people.
What I am doing with my degree since graduating
What have I been up to in the last three years since graduating, you ask? I became a journalist, freelance writer, and co-founder and president of a firm focusing largely on Web and graphic design, copy writing, and search engine optimization. Oh yes, and I work part-time as a produce clerk in a grocery store, the result of a shaky economy. In between all of this, I’ve managed to run for elected office a couple of times, and I serve on two municipal government boards/committees. With my business comes participation in a number of business networking organizations, including two chambers of commerce. I serve as board member of one of those chambers.
The versatility of a college degree, no matter what the degree is in
I am using my degree and the broader education that came with it, in so many ways, even though it may not readily meet the eye.
Sure, I have already attempted runs for elected office and serve on municipal boards/committees, which many people would quickly and easily identify as a “political science sorta thing. ” But there’s so much more to my degree than just running for office, serving on a government board, or serving as a great prerequisite to law school or to teaching in the social sciences, if those are routes I ever wish to pursue.
As a freelance journalist for two local small-town newspapers, I largely report on municipal government news and events. My background as a Political Science major makes it much easier to understand the issues being debated at government meetings, as well as the mechanics of how a meeting operates – procedural votes, etc.
Similarly, as a freelance writer for a number of online Web sites and some traditional print publications, my degree (not just the Political Science portion of it, but also my background in Sociology and Philosophy) gives me an edge, in that I can effectively conduct research, debate, and articulate various points of view, no matter what I’m writing on. And my writing interests are wide and varied.
My degree and the college experiences that accompanied it allow me to be an effective negotiator, relationship builder, speaker, and leader in the business world, even though, at least on the surface, my degree appears to have nothing to do with the work I do as a business owner and member of various business-related organizations. Surely, the non-credit certificate I earned for a course in entrepreneurship has helped a little, but it was a non-credit course that only met once a week for a few weeks, a few weeks in six years of education, so I don’t really count that in playing an effective role.
Many people, including my own parents, ask me from time to time, when it comes to earning a living, “Why don’t you do something with your degree? You went to school all those years, and you’re not doing anything with it.”
I’m sure many other graduates get this same line. Those who say these sorts of things are too narrow-minded when it comes to education. That’s not meant to bash them; it’s to point out that just because a major is specifically called in name “Political Science,” “Math”, “Chemistry”, etc., doesn’t mean that the education obtained by studying that specific major cannot be used in other fields. I know this first-hand, and am thankful for the degree I chose to take up.