I was reading about The Soul and the City: A Reader in Moral and Political Philosophy, and Thomas Achord’s introduction does one of the best jobs I’ve seen of describing the difference between studying “politics” versus studying “political science”:

“The study of politics is not what many assume. It is not the study of daily media headlines. It is not the study of candidate speeches, policy platforms, and meticulous legislation. Nor is it the study of party factions, social ideologies, and political programs. Least of all is it a scientific experimentation with reality to achieve imagined utopias. These are all the facets belonging to political science in the modern sense. Rather, political philosophy is the study of the the value of Light, of moral truths such as justice, right, law, duty, order and liberty. It asks what is the good life and how we can best position ourselves collectively to pursue it. The purpose of this reader is to restore in the mind of people generally, but Christians especially, the connections between the family and the nation, virtue and society, the soul and the city.”

This distinction is one I understood too late in my own time at Penn State, and with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had an immersion in history and philosophy more than in political science, per se.