What I Wish I Was Told Before Studying Psychology

I don’t know where you’re reading this, but at least here in Australia, psychology’s an extremely popular subject choice. At my university, 2000 people enrol in first-year psychology. There are about 500 in second-year, and in third-year the numbers drop off again. Having studied at university for three years now, psychology still takes me by surprise. If you’ve ever considered studying psychology at university, read on:

1) It is so broad!

Psychology is arguably one of the broadest disciplines uni has to offer, despite what everything thinks (We don’t just diagnose people!)… In first year psychology, you cover 12 (!) topics! The topics I studied were: perception, neuroscience, abnormal psych (what people think psychology is- diagnosing people), learning, developmental psych, emotion, forensic psych, cognition, intelligence,Β  statistics, social psych and personality. And there are a lot more topics out there! It’s pretty hard to squeeze every discipline in, so you’ll need lots of self-study without the contact hours because you need to move onto another discipline.

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2) Prepare yourself for a lot of maths.

In a 4-year undergraduate psychology degree, you have to take a statistics course every year. If you do decide to continue on with psychology and study it at a postgraduate level, you’ll still have to take statistics every year. Why? Because psychology is a science, and any scientific discipline requires statistics.

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Statistics time!

3) It’s pretty science-y.

Continuing on from the previous point, yes, while your friends and family might not see psychology as a science, you will certainly believe so. You’ll study things that the biology majors study. You’ll study a bit of chemistry. You’ll study what it means to be a ‘good’ scientist.

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4) At the same time, you’ll also do a lot of writing.

Every semester of your psychology course will require you to write. Most of the time it’ll be a scientific report, but sometimes the faculty will throw in other genres- essays, critical reviews, evaluations etc etc. Psychology kind of requires you to be good at everything. It’s a challenge.

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5) If you like group assignments (which most people don’t), stay away from psychology.

Everything I have done in psychology so far has been individual work, other than when we had laboratory work. I don’t know why that’s the case, but it just is. I feel like this just submits with the stereotype of the ‘lonely scientist’ who works alone in their little corner, where they conduct their experiments and write…

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Maths doesn’t need friends

6) Get ready to work hard from Day 1, Year 1, all the way through to whenever you decide to stop studying…

There’s a quota for the number of registered psychologists in Australia, so the standard is ridiculously high. For starters, you have to get distinctions in all your undergraduate psychology subjects to do honours, and you have to do honours if you want to become a psychologist or an academic. You can’t afford to burn out when you study psychology.

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7) If you do decide to become a clinical psychologist, you have to keep studying throughout your career.

Clinical psychologists have to sit a test every 5 years to keep their accreditation, so if you’re like me and not prepared to keep studying for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, then ditch that path…

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8) Lots of degrees offer psychology as a subject/major.

You don’t have to enrol in a Bachelor of Psychology to study psychology! You can take in within a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts!! It’s all the same!! The only differences is that BPsych needs you to maintain distinction average throughout your degree as it EXPECTS you to complete honours, but if you just want a major without honours, the other degrees are fine.

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9)There are so many options other than becoming a psychologist!

You can have so many career paths like organisational psychology, research psychology, therapy, counselling, and the list continues. If you study psychology, you’ve opened so many doors to so many types of careers. So while it’s tough, you’ll be glad in the end! πŸ™‚

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