After about the second week of being on campus and meeting Dr. Haynes, I knew that I wanted to be an APP major. Talking with students who had interned on Capitol Hill, who were getting into top law schools, and who were raving about the major course electives encouraged me that this would be a great major to help launch me into what I wanted to do after college. The APP major provides specific, practical classes that taught me how the branches of government work, what role agencies play in the policy making process, and how to approach policy issues in an ethical manner. While the major certainly is an excellent foundation for anything you want to do, the APP major personally prepared me for my current role as a legal assistant, and I am studying for the LSAT to attend law school soon. The guidance and mentoring of Dr. Haynes helped me apply the skills I learned inside of the classroom to my internship with a Congressman, my editorial experience on the George Wythe Review, and my excitement to learn more about American politics and policy. For any student hoping to go into law, campaigning, politics, research, nonprofit organizations, or even who just want to learn more about the American governmental system from a Christian perspective, I highly encourage you to major in APP.
The APP Major is a great introduction to law or policy. It provides more than the “typical college experience” for students interested in pursuing the practice of law or hoping to get involved in the making of public policy. The classes appeal to a wide range of interests. If you want to run for office one day, you can take Campaigns & Elections (complete with simulation exercises). If you would rather think through the in’s-and-out’s of a policy, you can take Principles of Policy Analysis or Ethics in Public Policy. Those are just three examples of the many other classes APP offers. No matter which direction you wish to go, you will find the work is of “reasonable difficulty”: It is not easy, but if you consistently put in the work, you will learn much and be rewarded in your grades.
APP also offers plenty of extra-curricular opportunities. The George Wythe Review is one of the only undergraduate public policy journals in the nation. “Doing review,” as we call it, is an opportunity usually reserved for law school, so it looks great on an undergraduate résumé. APP also hosts many talks and lunches with renowned policy experts, some of which offer exclusive internships for Patrick Henry students.
APP can put students in a position to make lasting connections with mentors, professionals in the industry, and like-minded students. If I could offer one piece of advice, get involved. Get involved early, get involved often, but above all, get involved. APP can only give you what you put in. APP can put you in a position to succeed, but it is up to you to take advantage of that position. Networking and building strong relationships is one of the most important skills in law or policy. Learn that while you are in undergrad and you will be a step ahead in the professional world.
If you’re interested in growing your knowledge and skills and becoming effective in almost any area of US policy or politics, I would highly recommend the APP program. You will not only learn the theory of essential subjects, but you’ll also get a chance to put those lessons to use, and see how they play out practically through in-class activities and internships. When I left PHC, I had run a simulated campaign, created an agency’s budget, and designed a city. APP also provides opportunities to practice leadership in any number of areas – like event planning, fundraising, and recruitment – as well as in research and editing. Dr. Haynes, the head of APP (and one of the best things about APP), likes to say that you get out of APP what you put into it, and there are plenty of ways to get involved and learn. Joining the APP major was one of the best choices I ever made.
If you’re thinking about majoring in American Politics and Policy, that doesn’t mean that you have to be a big shot congressional intern, or go on to Harvard Law School, or even work on a campaign (although it will equip you to do those things.) Being an APP student teaches you how to think about life in a useful and practical way. I learned valuable people skills and how to communicate ideas well, two things that helped prepare me for my current job with a pro-life organization. I loved my APP classes. Not only did we have engaging intellectual discussions in classes such as Ethics and Public Policy, but were always thoroughly entertained by Dr. Haynes’s boundless energy and real-life examples from his experience in local politics. Most importantly, however, it was by being an APP major that I made my best friends. Whether starting World War III in our simulation in Presidency class, or commiserating together through SPSS in Political Science Research Methods, I formed deep friendships that I believe will continue through the rest of my life.