Linda Ann’s Answer
Psychology is a wonderful discipline to study and there are many options for you, even working with children. Before making up your mind, however, you should go to a research university that has at least one psychologist with an active research program in 'child development,' so that you can get some experiences working hands on with a research psychologist AND working with children.
So, you are probably thinking, how do I know which universities have such a psychologist? You can start by exploring institutions that are close to home if your goal is to attend a state school where the tuition would be less than either a private institution or a state school where you don't currently have residency.
Go to the school's website and then to the Psychology Department website at that school. Find the faculty page. Each faculty member should speak about the courses they teach and the type of research they are engaging in. Make sure you look at full-time faculty member's pages ("adjunct" means part-time and it isn't likely a person in a part-time status would have a full-blown research program or laboratory).
To help you get started, I will provide the names of three schools with active research programs in child development: Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX), my graduate school alma mater and a private university; Penn State University, College of Human Development (University Park, PA), my undergraduate alma mater and a state supported school, Temple University (Philadelphia, PA), a major state supported school in my home city. Temple's Psychology Department has an active program in child development.
I always recommend that potential psychology undergraduates poke around at the American Psychological Association's website (www.apa.org) to find out about all of the Divisions (sub-disciplines) and to read about what psychology encompasses. Besides child development, in which you are already interested, I suggest reading about Educational Psychology and School Psychology both of which work with children (with School psychology being more 'hands on' than Educational Psychology). You will need to attend a certified graduate program in School Psychology in order to be a school psychologist.
In order to be a practicing therapist, you will need a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) and become licensed in your state of practice. That educational route is very competitive and will take longer than a master's degree in school psychology (there are also doctorates in School Psychology as an FYI).
I wish you the best in your future career. IF you should have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask me.
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