Earning a psychology degree can provide you with a variety of opportunities post-graduation. Majoring in psychology is a great way for you to learn about yourself and others, to challenge yourself, and to earn a degree that will open doors for you in a plethora of different fields and graduate programs.
However, because psychology is such a big field, it can also be very competitive – especially if you choose to attend graduate school.
You should attend formal discussions on graduate programs for psychology, spoken with many psychology professors, and even interview professionals in multiple different fields in psychology.
Here is a list of tips that will help you navigate through the major.
1. Maintain a high GPA
Regardless of your major, you should try to obtain the best grades possible.
However, because graduate programs in psychology are so competitive, obtaining and maintaining the highest GPA possible is an absolute MUST.
Ideally, you should shoot for a GPA above a 3.5.
2. Narrow your interests within the field
Psychology is a very broad major. Earning your psychology undergraduate degree leaves you with many career options.
Depending on your area of focus, graduate school can result in an increase in salary.
Furthermore, the sooner you realize which field in psychology interests you the most (ex. Health Psychology, Sports Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Clinical Psychology, etc.), the more you will be able to tailor your experiences to that field, making your graduate school application or your resume for job searches much stronger.
3. Join clubs and organizations pertaining to Psychology
Joining clubs and organizations like the Psychology Club and Psi Chi don’t just boost your resume, they also help you network with people in your field and find out about helpful and exciting opportunities for students within the psychology department at your school.
Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in Psychology, sometimes even offers scholarships to students – the only catch is that to become a member, there are requirements you must fulfill depending on the school you attend, such as maintaining a certain GPA and taking a certain number of psychology courses.
4. Apply for jobs and summer internships
Doing work related to psychology outside of class will not only demonstrate your commitment to the field and provide you with hands-on experience to enhance your resume and/or application, but it will also allow you to specialize in a specific area of the discipline.
If you find that you have some extra time during the school year and need the extra cash, see if your school or your peers need a psychology tutor!
For example, a resident advisor is allowed to acquire many skills necessary in different psychological fields. Other psychology majors get involved with academic advising by becoming a Preceptor.
There are many jobs and opportunities for you to attain skills that will be helpful for you as a Psychology major – you just have to think outside of the box in order to make the connection clear on your resume and in your interviews!
5. Do research
Even if you’re not sure if you’ll like it or if you have doubts about being able to excel at it, pursue research opportunities.
Getting some research experience through a practicum course, joining a research team, or writing an Honor’s Thesis can have significant benefits.
You’ll learn more about your interests, develop technical writing and statistics skills, improve your analytical skills, connect with the professor or supervisor with whom you’re working, and hopefully publish a scholarly article—all of which will ultimately increase your chances of graduate school acceptance.
Doing research will also help you realize whether you want to continue schooling and it will even help you decide exactly how much schooling you’d like to complete since the bulk of some graduate programs is performing research.
6. Connect with professors, researchers, and supervisors
Graduate schools and jobs are most likely going to ask for recommendations. It helps to have someone or even a handful of people who know your interests and strengths so that they can give you a personalized recommendation.
Even if you are struggling in class, talk to your professors about it! They will bring you up to par with where you need to be so that you can succeed in their classes.
Additionally, these people might even be able to refer you to a job, internship, or research opportunity in which they knew you would be interested.
Outside reading is essential in any field. It will give you an edge in class, allow you to learn more about potential careers in psychology, and give you the knowledge that your peers don’t have.