You’ve made the decision; it’s time to go to get your psychology degree. But how to begin? How do you choose where to learn psychology? Can you have a career in psychology? If you need the answer to all these questions and more, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find the Who, Why, What, Where and How of your psychology degree–all the psychology degree basics.
You, of course, that’s who. Take some time to consider things. What do you do well when it comes to school? Are you a social butterfly or a bookworm? Do you enjoy the classroom, or do you prefer hanging out online? What is important to you? What gave you trouble in school—writing papers, taking notes, or showing up to class prepared?
Since you’ve chosen a specific area of study and know that you want a career in psychology, you need to ask yourself some additional questions. What do you want out of a psychology degree? Do you have a specialty in mind? What are your long term educational and career goals? Is this the right place to start to get you on track for your preferred future?
All of these are important factors to consider before moving forward. A good exercise is to sit down and write down answers to the questions above. College is challenging, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses before you go in is key. Take the time to really dig deep and understand yourself before taking the next step.
This is important: WHY do you want to earn a degree in psychology? Are you fulfilling a life-long dream, or simply following the expectations of your parents or friends? Are you hoping for a lucrative career and college is the next step down that path? Whatever your reason, if you are doing it for yourself and the dreams you hold for your life, you are more likely to succeed.
Psychology is an incredibly diverse field, and your degree can lead you to a future as a therapist, or do you plan to use your psychology degree as a stepping-stone to other things such as criminal justice, business, or advertising?
If you aren’t sure, well, let’s start with your interests. What types of things excite you? What types of jobs or careers appeal to you? Don’t feel restricted by the expectations of others—let your hopes and dreams soar when considering these ideas. Have you done all your psychology degree research?
Now, let’s look at your abilities. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What kind of skills do you have? Look at the courses you took in high school. What were your best subjects? Is there a pattern there? What kinds of extracurricular activities did you participate in while in high school? What kinds of things did you learn from part-time or summer jobs?
The next step is to examine what you value in work. Do you value helping society? Do you like working under pressure? Are you interested in a specific group affiliation? What about stability, security, status, pacing, working alone or with groups, or having a positive impact on other people?
Now, the reality check. You need to honestly evaluate your options. Do you really want to help people, but are uncomfortable with the mentally ill? Do you want to work as a therapist—which requires an advanced degree—but you have no desire to go to graduate school? None of these things should stop you, necessarily, but it is still important to face these obstacles and be realistic about whether you can get around them. If you want a career in psychology, you need to think about all of these questions first.
Finally, based on all your psychology degree research and self-assessment, you should now have a better idea of the careers you are not interested in pursuing, and you will know how a degree in psychology will help you.
This question is just as important but much more practical. Do you want to stay close to home, or are you eager to explore other places? Although nearly every college and university offers a psychology major, is there a preferred college or university that will help you get where you want to go? Do you want a place where you can live on campus, or would you rather live off-site?
The first step, of course, is to find out the best college for your psychology specialty. Then you can check out the best local options as well as visit other locations. What college offers the courses you want at the times you want them? When visiting a college, be sure to check out the surrounding neighborhoods and the services they offer. After all, if you are going to spend a lot of time in that area, you will need more than just what the college offers—after all, you’ll need to eat and shop!
Secondly, you should spend some time researching how the college assists its graduates. Does it have a strong career center? How about their job placement office? Once you’ve graduated you’ll need some assistance taking that next step. Check out how your college will help you.
Once you have all this information, you will know which college is the best place for you.
Ah, how may seem like the biggest question. How will I get in? How will I pay for my psychology degree? How will I manage to work while going to school?
Luckily, in this day and age there are as many diverse options for earning your degree as there are students. You can go to school part-time and keep that good job. You can go to school online, part-time, full-time, or for just some of your courses.
Financial aid is readily available to anyone who needs it, making a college degree a reality for everyone. The admissions counselors at the college you choose can help you navigate the paperwork required and provide guidance on both financial aid and your course load.
To earn that psychology degree, all it takes is you making the commitment and taking that first step. Good luck, and good learning!