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Utilizing Psi Chiâ€™s Programs to Maximize Learning and Success
by Christopher Koch - George Fox University
Category: Personal/Academic Growth
Once you select psychology as a major, look at its requirements and the course offerings from semester to semester. After you do this, map the sequence of courses you can or will take for a two-year period. If you desire to attend graduate school, Waters and Jacobs (1975) have provided a widely-used timeline for applying to graduate school. In the box on the right is a suggested timeline for utilizing Psi Chi's programs to help enhance your educational experience, as well as maximize your potential for success as a graduate school applicant and beyond. Consider using this guide along with the Waters and Jacobs timeline in preparing for graduate school.
You will see this is an idealized plan that may need to be modified to fit your particular situation. However, following this plan can potentially result in two conference presentations, one research grant, a summer research experience, a regional and national research award, and a publication. Other opportunities exist within Psi Chi as well. There is the Kay Wilson Leadership Award for Outstanding Chapter Presidents. Psi Chi also supports internships with FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime and APA's Science Directorate. Therefore, the opportunities are available to help develop your skills and interests in psychology and to make you a desirable graduate school (or job) candidate. Take advantage of these opportunities by planning for them.
- Gain some research experience by getting involved in a faculty research project.
- Begin to develop your own research project.
- Become a member of Psi Chi
- Determine what you need to conduct the study you have been developing. Submit a Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant or a Psi Chi/SuperLab Research Grant proposal to support your research (both have an October 1 deadline).
- Submit a presentation of your research to a regional or national conference (EPA, MPA, RMPA, SEPA, SWPA, WPA, APA, APS). Since the majority of the deadlines for the regional conferences are in the fall, it is unlikely that you will have your own project completed. However, your work with a faculty member will probably be ready for submission. The national conferences (APA, APS) have slightly later deadlines. If appropriate, indicate that you want to be included in the Regional Research Award or National Convention Research Award competition.
- Begin conducting your own study.
- Begin looking into graduate programs in the beginning of spring semester (or winter quarter). This may seem early but it is only to help you develop a list of psychologists with whom you might want to work. Specifically, you should look at the research interests of faculty and their publications for the last 3 to 5 years.
- Look at the NSF/REU sites available for psychology majors. Apply to one that is particularly interesting to you, especially if the faculty member involved at the site is one from the list of psychologists wth whom you would like to work. Another option is to contact a professor from another school that you would like to work with over the summer. If he or she is willing to work with you, submit a Psi Chi Summer Research Grant proposal. Psi Chi support for the NSF/REU sites varies according to the deadlines for those sites. Submissions for a Summer Research Grant are due March 30.
- Present at a regional or national conference. These conferences provide an excellent opportunity to receive feedback on your research and to begin networking with people from other schools. Your interactions with others can help you choose which graduate school you are most interested in and help develop contacts at the schools you may ultimately apply to.
- Submit your own research for presentation at a regional or national research conference. Check the appropriate deadlines. Be sure to have your research included in the Regional Research Award competition.
- Prepare a paper for submission to the Psi Chi national research awards. The Guilford Undergraduate Research Award and the Allyn & Bacon Psychology Award are for empirical studies. The Erlbaum Award is for cognitive science research. The deadline for all three awards is May 1. You can submit to more than one award. However, you can only win one award.
- Now that you have completed your research and prepared a paper on your findings, submit your research to the Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research. The Psi Chi Journal is a national, fully reviewed quarterly journal that provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the publication process.
Waters, J., & Jacobs, M. (1975, Fall). Advice on graduate school admission procedures. Psi Chi Newsletter, 1, 3-4. [online at http://psych.hanover.edu/handbook/advice2.html]
Chris Koch received a BS in psychology with honors from Pennsylvania State University, a MS in experimental psychology, and a PhD in cognitive-experimental from the University of Georgia. He is currently in his 12th year at George Fox University (OR) where he has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology, Director of External Scholarship, and headed University Assessment. During that time, he has also promoted research in psychology by planning a biannual undergraduate research conference, editing the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Psychology, and working with youth organizations and local high school classes on psychologically-based research projects. He has served as a councilor for the Psychology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research and the President and Western Region Vice-President of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. He has held a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities at the University of Virginia, was a Fulbright Scholar to Russia, and is a fellow of the Western Psychological Association. His primary research interests focus on the interaction between attention and cognitive and perceptual processes.
Fall 2005 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 10, No. 1, p. 22), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2005, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.