Were we to ask, we would find these same interests and desires among teachers, civil servants, attorneys, researchers, business owners, politicians, physicians, and artists, to name a few. Many of them chose their career paths in part because they saw an opportunity to use their talents and pursue their interests in ways that would help others or contribute to society. Therefore, a desire to help others, and even some possible inherent skill at doing so, is not a sound reason on its own to major in psychology. Those of you who possess this interest must work to learn about whether psychology is the right vehicle for you to accomplish your specific career goals.
The decision can in part be made easier by answering three questions in relation to the major. First, do you understand and appreciate psychology as a scientific discipline?
Psychology - SOU Academic Programs
Answering yes to this question means that regardless of your career interests in the field, you understand the purpose and value of having your undergraduate education rooted in both the research and applied foundations of the field. Second, are you and psychology a good fit?
An affirmative answer to this question means that what psychology offers at the undergraduate level matches your interests, skills, abilities, values, and ways of thinking about the world. Third, is psychology the right vehicle to help you accomplish your career goals, even if they are not well defined at the moment? In answering yes to this question, be sure that majoring in psychology at the least will not impede your goals and at the most will give you the best foundation for achieving them. Determining whether psychology is right for you is going to require effort on your part.
You will need to examine thoroughly the field and what it has to offer. This means investigating the field in general and investigating the specifics of the major as it is offered at your institution. The remainder of this book will provide extensive information to guide you in this process. We encourage you to engage the information with an open and critical mind, thinking carefully about your choices in your academic and career pursuits.
Whether along the path you decide psychology is right for you or you determine that your interests and career goals are best pursued in another discipline, the process of exploring the field and yourself will have been well worth the effort. Suggested Exercises 1. If you are still undecided about your major, talk with one faculty member in each of the areas you are considering to gain their perspectives on the advantages and limitations of the major at your institution. Also talk with individuals in the community who are working with a degree in the field to gain their perspective on majoring in psychology.
Talk with junior and senior-level psychology majors about their experiences and any suggestions they have for students in your position. If you do not know any advanced students, contact a psychology student organization e. The officers of these groups are often an excellent resource. Talk with peers in your classes about why they are pursuing psychology.
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Listen for reasons that you think match yours as well as any different or novel reasons you may not have considered. Notice which of your peers seem to have given this more or less thought than you. Ask the department of psychology at your institution if they have contact information for recent alumni. Many departments maintain databases of recent alumni, and many of alumni are willing to take the time to talk with current students. If your department has such information, contact a recent graduate to ask about their experiences as a student and see if they have any advice for you.
How to choose a college major 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw Hill. Fogg, N. College majors handbook with real career paths and payoffs: The actual jobs, earnings, and trends for graduates of 60 college majors. Paul, MN: Jist Publishing. The College Board. Book of majors New York: Author. Introduction to Psychology Myers, D. Psychology 8th ed. New York: Worth Publishers. Weiten, W. Psychology: Themes and variations 7th ed.
Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. References American Psychological Association.
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APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major. Washington, DC: Author.
Rajecki, D. Individual Differences Research, 3, — Snyder, T.
Digest of education statistics: NCES Department of Education. Why I am a psychology major: An empirical analysis of student motivations. By , this number increased to A similar trend occurred among students who returned to college years after completing high school. Between and , the percentage of college students who were over the age of 35 increased from How did you decide to become a part of these growing numbers of college students?
Some students wrestle with the decision over time, weighing the pros and cons of continuing their education beyond high school. But in recent years, more students are simply assuming that attending college will be a part of their life. A major contributing force in this trend has been the changing job market. As a result, increasing numbers of individuals view a college degree as essential to having a successful career.
More are feeling pressure to attend college, often without adequate preparation to handle college-level work Wirt et al. At some point in their undergraduate education most of these students discover their career interests and goals, but many begin college without a clear sense of focus and motivation. As a result, some will experience academic difficulties, and some of these will carry serious consequences.
Fortunately, a large portion of these academic difficulties can be prevented. This chapter highlights several important steps students can take to help ensure success in college.
Majoring in Psychology: Achieving Your Educational and Career Goals
Although none of these are quick fixes for serious academic problems, they are not difficult to integrate into your educational life. Understanding how college differs from high school, and how these changes can impact your academic performance, is an important first step in taking control over your education. The second section explores strategies for academic success and suggests ways for incorporating them into your academic efforts. The final section describes resources that are available to most college students at their own institutions and how these resources can enhance the academic experience.
You may find that you already are aware of some aspects of these steps. However, few students are aware of them all, and even fewer are routinely implementing them into their academic life. Therefore, this chapter should be beneficial whether you are highly successful, struggling, or just getting started in your college experience. The Experience of Adjusting to College What was your overall experience of coming to college?
Perhaps you can count back to the start of your college career in terms of decades or just a few short months. Regardless, how has the college path progressed for you since that time? Box 2. College can be one of the most exciting and formative periods of your life. But adjusting to college can be difficult because so many factors in your life change. One of the biggest adjustments that must be made is to the academic environment.
This section of the chapter provides an overview of several academic changes that occur in the transition from high school to college. Each is directly related to the active role students must adopt in their learning at this level.
The section concludes by examining common problems students experience as a result of these changes. Having a clear understanding of these changes is an important part of ensuring that Box 2. How did you make your decision to apply?
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