The study of psychology prepares you for a number of fascinating careers, from FBI profiling to academia to therapy. In light of that, it’s important to understand a few key ideas as you select the type of degree in psychology that you want to pursue. This post discusses three of the most important considerations you’ll look at as you choose your degree.
1. You Must Enjoy Working With People
Studying human psychology requires you to interact with people. According to US News and World Report, people who do well as psychology majors and psychologists have a keen interest in working with people.
Psychologists want to know more about the mental process and human behavior strategies. Further, the most skilled psychologists possess great listening skills, as well as the ability to read between the lines.
That is, they understand that not all communication comes from verbal interactions. Body language, a person’s tone of voice, the styles they wear, and more all communicate something about a person. If you pursue a degree in psychology, you must be prepared to look at all aspects of human behavior and how people communicate. You must also understand how to deal with all of these elements if you want to help people.
2. It’s Helpful to Understand the Different Branches of Psychology
Choosing a degree in psychology requires some deep thought. Your career goals play a big role in the type of degree you get, as do your interests in specific branches of psychology.
For example, if you have career aspirations outside of the field of psychology, you may still find that getting a BA or BS psychology degree fits your career goals nicely.
In this case, a degree in psychology offers excellent preparation for careers in law, political science, and even advertising. The insight that this degree gives you into the workings of the human mind, including personal motivation, comes in handy in your day-to-day dealings with people.
For example, imagine how understanding what motivates people to buy could help in a career in advertising, or think about the advantage a degree in psychology would give you if you worked in law enforcement. You may better understand why people commit crimes if you understand human psychology.
If, on the other hand, you’d like to work as a therapist or as a psychology professor, it’s important to go on to get advanced degrees in psychology. You’re looking at a master’s degree at least, but a Ph.D. if you want to teach at the college level.
In light of this, it’s important for you to research the different branches of psychology and the different careers before you embark on a system of study. Otherwise, you may go down the wrong educational road and have to backtrack in order to get to where you want to go in your career.
3. Be Prepared to Read and Write A Lot
Pursuing a psychology degree means you’ll spend a great deal of time reading and writing. It’s a text-heavy degree. With the exception of some of your lecture-style psychology 101 classes, you won’t encounter many multiple-choice tests. You’ll research and write many papers before your degree program comes to its conclusion.
Additionally, this degree often requires students to make class presentations and even conference presentations at the upper-division levels. Class discussions are active, and group projects are plentiful. The good news is the teamwork skills you build while doing these activities will help you when it comes time to start dealing with clients in your professional life.
Finally, this isn’t to say that having a good memory isn’t important. It is. You just may not use it for your tests. Instead, this work requires you to memorize and use many key psychological theories that will form the foundation of your work. You’ll usually learn about these theories in your class work, discussions, homework assignments and readings.
Final Thoughts on Studying Psychology in College
As a serious student of psychology, you’ll come face-to-face with the most interesting and occasionally disturbing aspects of human behavior. Your work could revolve around forensic psychology and criminology, organizational psychology and the world of work, personal therapy, or educational psychology.
Because the field of psychology runs the gamut, it’s important that you select the right degree program. Otherwise, you’ll be unprepared for the work you’d like to do. The wrong degree program can also sidetrack the progress of your career path, forcing you to backtrack to meet all the degree requirements you missed.