Why Major in Psychology?
The job outlook for psychology majors is strong, especially for those who pursue graduate degrees beyond their bachelor’s. Our society is always in need of those who are willing to help others or learn more about how people think and interact.
But beyond this, probably the most exciting thing about psychology is the diversity in the field. Graduates with psychology degrees may work in health care settings, schools, private businesses, government or universities. You could find yourself working in law as a forensic psychologist or performing usability testing for a tech company as a human factors specialist. Psychology degrees cover far more than the traditional concept of the therapist talking to a patient on a couch (although that can be part of your career path as well)!
What Can You Do with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
To be honest, job prospects in the psychology field for a graduating student with a bachelor’s in psychology are limited. As a matter of fact, only about 25% of those with bachelor’s degrees go on to work in a job that is closely related to their degree.
This isn’t to say that there are no positions available for graduates with psychology bachelor’s degrees, but you may have to think creatively when pursuing a career with your degree and pursue jobs outside the psychology field.
Besides entry level positions in health care or social work, psychology majors may want to think about jobs in writing, marketing, administration, personnel training or other related positions. Think about how you can use your strengths as a critical thinker with good communication skills who works well with people.
What to Look for in an Undergraduate Psychology Program
You’ll want to find a program that has student success as its top priority. Schools that offer student support, financial aid consulting, academic advisors and career advice are focused on making sure their graduates leave the program with the tools they need to succeed.
As a Psychology major you’ll also most likely be looking at continuing your education with a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate. When choosing a bachelor’s program, consider the long game. Is this a school you want to stay in for the duration of your education or are you interested in moving to a different school (and maybe even a different state) for graduate school?
Many students find it makes sense to start their psychology journey at a small school where they can hone their interests and receive personalized attention, then move on to a larger campus to pursue graduate work. If this is your plan, it can be a good idea to remain within the same system (in order to ensure that your credits will transfer), so you may begin your bachelor’s degree at a small state campus then move to the bigger city campus for your graduate work. Either way, if you do plan to pursue a master’s after your bachelor’s degree, do make sure your credits will move with you!
How to Apply to a Bachelor's Program in Psychology
Applications—and yes, that’s plural—can be time-consuming, but there are a number of measures you can take ahead of time to speed up the process. You cannot be certain with the highly competitive educational environment that the first choice will always work out. Selecting a group of favorites will provide a clear focus for the application process and free you up to focus on the procedures themselves.
First, you should keep multiple copies of your test scores and college transcripts on hand. These are generally required by all psychology schools. Letters of recommendation are also beneficial to the application process and the job market during life after school.
In fact, it’s best to approach all higher education documentation with a professional attitude. Start building your resume and include one with your application if not prompted ahead of time. Other common inclusions for the application process include:
• Completed school application
• Application essays
• Financial aid forms
The SAT is also a requirement for college. The SAT tests your analytical skills through verbal and written reasoning and your abilities toward critical thought and quantitative reasoning. Test scores range from 200-800. Test manuals are available for study on your own time; however, it may be worth your while to attend a preparation class or hire a private tutor whose credentials can be verified. For more details, check with testing centers in your area. You can also take practice exams on the official SAT website.