Political Science and International Relations

 
ps ir banner
 

 Student Services Portal

ADVISING INFORMATION

Your goals for yourself are the same goals we have for you:

          - you want to do well in your classes, and we want you to do well in your classes

          - you want to graduate on time, and we want you to graduate on time

          - you want your college experience to lead to a meaningful and productive career, and we
            want you to go on to a meaningful and productive career

Good advising—you seeking the advice and our providing the advice—are crucial to achieving these goals. If you work with your advisor and the advice given, you will do better in your classes, stay on track to graduate, and be in a solid position for the type of career you want.

apsa pic

                WHAT YOU WILL FIND ON THIS PAGE

A) How do you get an advisor?
B) When should you talk to your advisor?
C) Who else can help you?
D) Where can you get information on your major and courses?
E) What should you pick for a minor?
F) Are there basic tips for doing well in PS and IR classes?
G) What can you do now to help build a post-MTSU career in the field?

 

A) How do you get an advisor?

This is very easy. If you think you might already have an assigned advisor but aren't really sure who it might be, you can go into your Pipeline page and it will say who your advisor is. If you do not already have an advisor, simply stop by the main Political Science Department office in Peck 209 and ask Pam Davis, our Executive Aide, for an advisor. Easy.

B) When should you talk to your advisor?

Seriously, the correct answer is "often." Don't allow questions and problems to fester and get worse; as issues arise, see your advisor. Even if there are no unique problems, it is wise to see your advisor at least once a semester when you are selecting courses prior to registration.

This may seem trite, but it is true: NO student has ever had a problem because she/he talked to their advisor too often, but LOTS of students have faced entirely avoidable problems because they didn't talk to their advisor often enough.


How to Contact Your Advisor

How to Keep Track of Your Progress

Every faculty advisor has regular office hours each week. Barring meetings, professional trips, or emergencies, they will be available in their offices at these times. Their office hours are posted on their doors each semester.

Beyond official office hours, you can make an appointment when you are both free, or, depending on the type of issue and the advisor's preferences, phone calls and emails are available. Some people use email much more than others, so simply ask your advisor how she/he prefers to be contacted.

Faculty members, like you, have classes and meetings and so they may not be available between your classes in Peck on MWF, but if you make an appointment they will be happy to meet with you.

Whatever your major with us—General Political Science, Political Science with a Pre-Law Concentration, Political Science with a Public Administration Concentration, Political Science for Teacher Licensure, or International Relations—there is an Upper-Division Form. This form lists your program and course requirements on a
single sheet of paper.

You can get a paper copy on the rack outside the faculty offices, or you can get an electronic
copy of all Upper-Division Forms here.

Use a copy of your Upper-Division Form to keep track of the courses you have taken and still need to take. Keep it in a safe place and bring it with you when you meet with your advisor.


C) Who else can help you?

If you have a question or concern about your program—what you are supposed to take, course availability, course substitutions, gpa concerns, and so on—your advisor is your first point of contact. But, if it something that is time sensitive or an emergency, there are other people you can talk to and who will help you. In no particular order, you can talk to:

          - any of the Political Science professors with whom you have a class;

          - Dr. Morris, Department Chair, or Pam Davis, Executive Aide, both in Peck 209;

          - faculty members with an open door; or,

          - one of the advisors in the College of Liberal Arts Advising Office.

Between your advisor and all of theses other people, even time-sensitive issues can be addressed in a timely fashion. Ask—people want to help you stay on track and succeed.

D) Where can you get information on your major, courses, and so on?

The best way to stay on track in your major and for graduation is to be informed. Anything you will ever want or need to know about your program is available online 24/7. Much of it is also available in hard copy on the racks outside the Political Science Office in Peck.

For information on University rules and General Education requirements, you can go to the MTSU Undergraduate Catalog.

For information on your major—program requirements, Upper-Division Forms, course descriptions, student organizations, internship opportunities, study abroad opportunities, faculty contact information, and much more—you can go to the Political Science Department web page.

For up to date notifications of speakers, films, Departments events and workshops, and internship and job opportunities—"friend" the Department Facebook page (login and search for MTSU political science).

STUDENT HANDBOOKS

We have two student handbooks available, one for IR majors and one for PS majors (whether General or Pre-Law or Public Admin or Teacher Licensure).

These are short, user-friendly handbooks on your programs, how and when to file various forms, how to register for courses, tips for success, and career tips. The emphasis here is on user-friendly, so please print off a copy (or pick up a copy in the main office) of the Handbook that applies to you.

PS Major Handbook

IR Major Handbook

 

E) What should you pick for a minor?

Depending on your major in the Department, you will need to choose either one or two minors. The near universal question students ask their advisors at some point is "What should I minor in?" There is no one answer that applies to every student, but:

          - College is about more than building a career; it is also about a full and good life.
            So, if you have a passion—"I want to work in X field, but I've always been
            fascinated by... learning Chinese... or painting... or history... or something"—
            use a minor to pursue your passion.

         - If you know exactly the career you want and there is a minor that would
           obviously help you achieve it—say you want to be a political writer, and so a
           minor in journalism makes sense with your PS major—you should follow this
           course.

         - If, like many students, you do not fall into either of the two previous groups, you
           are strongly encouraged to minor in Political and Civic Engagement. The
           Political and Civic Engagement minor is the same number of credit hours as
           other minors, but allows you to combine internships, study abroad, independent
           research, and one hour practicum courses (Mock Trial, Moot Court, Model U.N.,
           Mock Mediation, and Model State Legislature) for a minor that offers you
           practical experience using what you have learned in your PS and IR courses.

           Students always understand the value of internship, study abroad, research, and
           practicum courses to exploring career options and landing jobs, but often have
           hard time fitting them into a program with Gen Ed, major, and minor
           requirements. By minoring in Political and Civic Engagement space for these
           types of experiences are built into your 120 credit hour program.

           For example, a Pre-Law major might intern in a prosecutor's office one semester
           and a public defender's office the next semester. Or, an IR major might study
           abroad one Summer and intern another semester with a local group working with
           political refugees from around the world. These are extremely valuable
           experiences, and a minor in Political and Civic Engagement provides the space to
           gain these experiences. So, if you're not sure what to minor in, you should
           strongly consider this option.

F) Are there basic tips for doing well in PS and IR classes?

The basic tips for doing well in PS and IR classes are the same for classes in almost all fields. The tips are very basic indeed, but when students struggle, issues with one or more of these basics is a part of the problem.

          -1- Go to all of your classes, all of the time. Being there matters.

          -2- Be prepared for class—if there was assigned reading or other assignment, get it
                done before class.

          -3- Be engaged in the class—don't just sit, but listen actively, take good notes, and
                participate when appropriate/asked.

          -4- Get assistance if you need assistance—taking good notes, studying effectively,
                writing timed essays, and so on, are skills. If you are struggling in some of these
                areas, even if just a little, get the help you need. See the "Academic Help
                Resources" page on this site, or ask.

          -5- Talk to your professors, early and often. They want you to succeed and want to
                help, but you need to talk to them and let them know when there is an issue. So,
                as soon as there is an issue (i.e., when you get one low grade, not after several
                have piled up), go and talk to your professor about what the issue is and what you
                can do to clear it up.

          -6- Be the tortoise, not the hare—very few students can learn well and score well
                studying and writing in mad dashes right before an assignment is due. Some can,
                but not many (and, thus, probably not you). So, be the tortoise, plan ahead and
                spread your work out and work on it in a slow and steady fashion, and you will
                win with higher grades.

G) What can you do now to help build a post-MTSU career in the field?

You all want to leave MTSU and achieve your next goal in life—get a job you really want, get into a law school you really want, get into a graduate school you really want. What can you do now to help you achieve what you want to achieve?

For many, the answer is to graduate with as high a gpa as possible. And, this is important; you should work diligently to graduate and do so with as high a gpa as possible. But, there is more to do.

When you graduate, you will apply for professional jobs or law school admission or graduate school admission. The degree and the gpa get you into the pool of seriously considered applicants, which is a good thing. The challenge, of course, is to be one of the people selected from this pool and actually hired or admitted. There may be dozens of qualified applicants for a given job, and hundreds of qualified applicants for admission to law school and graduate programs—just like you, they have recently earned a Bachelor's degree with a solid gpa, but only three will be offered an interview and a few dozen offered admission to the law or graduate program. You want to be one of these people, and you can do things now to help ensure you are one of those applicants who actually gets hired or gets admitted.

You need to stand out—at least a little bit—from all the other people who have earned a degree with a similar gpa. You do not need to win a Nobel Prize while an undergraduate (though that would be okay too), but you want to do some things while here to help you stand out from all the other applicants later. Do some things that make you more interesting to people reviewing applications.

Both the Department and the University offer all sorts of opportunities for you do things that will make you better prepared to achieve your post-MTSU goals. For more information on these opportunities, look through the pages on this site on Grad School, Law School, Research Opportunities, Getting Involved on Campus, and Getting Involved in the Community. You can:

          - do an internship in a government agency
          - go abroad for either courses or service learning
          - lead campus organizations
          - participate in Mock Trial
          - do an internship on a political campaign
          - do independent research
          - work with non-profits in the community
          - do an internship with an international organization
          - participate in Moot Court
          - pursue an EXL designation on your degree
          - participate in Mock Mediation
          - present your work at a professional conference
          - do an internship in a legislative office
          - present work at Scholar's Week
          - participate in Model U.N.
          - submit your work to an undergraduate journal
          - participate in TISL
          - do an internship in a legal office

No student can do all of these things, but every student can do one or two or three things in their four years here. The more you do and do well beyond just graduate with a good gpa, the more likely you will achieve your post-MTSU goals.