You might be a psychology major if… you have strong opinions on Freud, always know exactly what helpful advice to give your friends, and can’t enjoy shows like Dexter or Hannibal without some intense psychoanalysis going on. Psychology majors are often deep thinkers, analytical advisers and careful listeners. You get to delve deeply into one of the world’s most fascinating mysteries — why we are who we are. As it turns out, there’s a lot more to learn than just how to take 12-question personality tests.
What you’ll be doing
Psychology majors differ depending on whether you’re earning a B.A. or a B.S. With a B.S. you’re dealing with a more clinical view of psychology and science-based classes. If science isn’t really your thing but you still love psychology, a B.A. might be for you. You can get assignments like spending 40 hours over the course of a semester with a nursing home resident and recording the experience. Or you could be asked to volunteer with kids and graph their development. The psychology department at Messiah College offers courses such as human sexuality, abnormal psychology, and adolescent development – all of which sound a lot more interesting than a poetry class to me. Psychology offers students a chance to look at the world in a very real and practical way, skills which can be used in any number of careers after graduation.
“It’s helpful when people ask me for advice. I used to just tell them what I think, but after taking a lot of psychology classes, I realized I shouldn’t be telling people anything. I should be helping them figure out the answers for themselves.” – Andrea Yong, Messiah College, 2016
“Studying how people think, why they think that and what motivates different behaviour and social norms was intriguing. The major offered me all of that and taught me many valuable and practical lessons that I have used since learning them.” – Tim Talbot, Messiah College, 2014
“I chose to study psychology because it seemed like an appropriate balance between hard sciences while still having areas to ponder and converse about in classroom discussion. It also seemed like a relevant major at the time to use for societal contribution.”– Chrissie Brown, Messiah College, 2014.
“I’ve started to automatically analyze everything and keep thinking about everything, which is probably not very healthy. What if I just want a normal conversation?” – Andrea Yong
“It’s a very general field of study, which can make finding well-paying jobs afterwards hard. Plus, ridiculously long papers.” – Tim Talbot
“It is too broad, so much so that I can’t really make a decent income from it because it’s almost below entry level jobs. You have to climb your way up through schooling and experience. That’s not always practical, especially the schooling part when one is trying to pay off undergraduate fees.” – Chrissie Brown
Every psychology major will say the same thing: psych is a broad field. You’re essentially studying the way people think, a skill that can translate into any number of professional fields, from being a trauma counselor to working with law enforcement.
Counseling is probably the first career option people think of when they hear “psychology major.” While there are countless other psychology-related jobs out there, counselors are one of the most common. They work with clients, usually in a one-on-one setting, and help them talk through particular problems they might have, or just help them clear their mind by talking to a trained listener. Counselors can specialize in countless areas: marriage counseling, addictions, abuse, depression – the list goes on. Wherever your particular empathy lies, there are bound to be people in need of a compassionate ear. Dr. Keith Miller, a 2002 graduate of Messiah College, went on to open his own marriage counseling clinic, Keith Miller & Associates, in Washington D.C. Miller is proof that counselors can not only be successful listeners: they can also be entrepreneurs in their field.
Many people wouldn’t think of psychology as a pre-law major, but they’re actually an ideal pair. Psychology majors study human behavior and reasoning, which prompts them to deeply analyze why people behave certain ways. These characteristics create a scientific understanding of the brain and a critical thinking perspective that will help any student wanting to go into a law career.
It’s not only education majors that can work to better the school system: psychology majors are needed too. You can go on to work with children and teenagers in schools by providing a safe space for them and helping them to succeed academically, emotionally and socially. While you may have to go on to get another degree to work in a high position in education, psychology majors in schools can work with kids dealing with issues from bullying and learning disabilities to curriculum and study habits.
Child Care Worker
My older brother, who graduated from Messiah College in 2014 with a B.A. in psychology, has gone on to become a child care worker in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He takes care of teenage boys with behavioral and emotional issues, a job he said is both exhausting and rewarding. Psychology majors can go into social work areas such as this, and play a hands-on role in helping people suffering from physical or emotional trauma.
Psychology majors can take their newfound skills to the next level with a career in forensics. If Criminal Minds has always been your favourite show to binge-watch, this might be the field for you. Forensic psychologists work with criminal investigators to understand and analyze the legal system. Within this field, you could be dealing with child custody lawsuits, providing psychotherapy to victims of crime, working with witnesses, or any number of other jobs. A career in forensic psychology, however, does require a graduate degree and often comes with unpredictable work hours.