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What are some great pointers for a student, prior to attending college with a Psych major?

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Alison’s Answer

Hi Alek,

There are a lot of different directions a psych major can take you in, from counseling to research or even to educational administration. Do as much exploring as you can once you hit those college classes. Say yes to volunteering opportunities, shadowing experiences, and summer internships.

As you’re preparing for the college classes themselves, take a moment to consider yourself as a student. What worked well for you in high school? Where did you struggle? Were you able to keep up with all your homework? Study for tests effectively? Keep yourself organized? If you had a method for any of this stuff that worked well for you, gather the things you need to keep doing it once you reach college! If you struggled with these kinds of things, start asking around for advice on how to improve, and try out some new methods as soon as you’re able. You’ll have to be a lot more independent with your college courses than you were in high school.

Finally, as a psych major specifically, be ready to adapt. Some students don’t realize how important their math skills are to psych until they hit their first statistics course. Some students struggle through courses because it seems like they can see within themselves every new psychological difficulty they study. My favorite adaptation example is when my educational psych professor told the class “never tell a student that they are smart”. She forced us to change our entire way of thinking using that line as an introduction to Carol Dwek and growth mindset.

I loved my psych courses in college - I hope you will also!

Alison recommends the following next steps:

Explore different areas of psych once you start college.
Be mindful of yourself as a student and what works well for you. (Hint: it’s probably not all-nighters and waiting ‘til the last minute.)
Keep an open mind and adapt as you go.
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Ahmet’s Answer

Psychology is a vast field with many sub-disciplines. Most lay people or even students tend to think of clinical psychology (and therapy) when they think about psychology. Familiarizing yourself with sub-areas of psychology and finding what interests you as early as possible would help you make better decisions about your career, such as whether you need a graduate degree, what kind of internships to take etc.

Psychology is also becoming a very interdisciplinary field. One of the recent trends (that I think will become much common in future) is with Computer Science, specifically applying machine learning algorithms. So, if you are interested in researcher / analyst directions either in industry or academia take courses that would help (e.g., Python, R, Machine Learning).

If you are planning to pursue a graduate degree, look for opportunities to get involved in faculty research to gain research experience as much as possible. If you have your own research ideas, don't be shy about talking to a related faculty member. I always loved it when an undergraduate knocked on my door, excited about some research ideas.

Finally, go beyond course requirements both theoretically and practically. Maybe you want to become a sports psychologist but your department does not have any courses on sports psychology. However, you can learn on your own with guidance from some faculty, or get involved with a local sports team. You can be proactive and create your own path even if it looks like there is none.

Psychology is about life. It is highly applicable to daily life. Unlike most other fields, everybody becomes curious about some sort of a psychological question almost daily (e.g, "why did they do that?"). Enjoy!
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Alina’s Answer

There are so many topics covered in psychology and it pairs very well with other learning topics, like business. Keep an open mind to your major in general because psychology can lead and apply to a vast amount of fields! I would also look into other courses outside of psychology to discover more interests.
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Morgan’s Answer

Hi! I also just graduated college with a psychology degree! There are so many directions you can go with psychology it doesn't just have to be a psychologist or a guidance counselor. I currently work for an insurance company which is very different than a traditional psychology role. Psych comes in handy for almost all careers because you learn how people behave and function.

Thank you for sharing your experience but it doesn't directly answer the question. What are some things you wish you knew prior to studying psychology? Gurpreet Lally, CareerVillage.org Team

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Alek! I think in general just being a college student entails certain things, such as studying and attending class, getting to become involved on your campus with clubs and organizations and seeking the help of your professors. As a psych major you really become integrated in a variety of courses broadening your perspective. I would advise to keep in touch with your professors and see if you can take part in research! There was always many students who would compose great research studies in the Psychology department. In addition, there was also a Psychology club on my campus and if there is one on yours I would recommend to attend meetings because there can be a lot of stimulating topics discussed! Overall keep working hard and make sure to plan out your goals ahead of time and talk with your adviser as well! They can be very helpful in selecting courses and career paths!

Best of luck!
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