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“But I Thought Psychology Would Be Easy!”

Posted By Kaitlyn L. Nasworthy, Monday, September 25, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017


"But I Thought Psychology
Would Be Easy!"

Kaitlyn L. Nasworthy, Georgia Southern University

My academic career technically started at a community college, but Georgia Southern University is where I consider my true academic beginning. At Georgia Southern University, I began to learn about the research process, reading and writing peer reviewed articles, how to write in APA format, how to choose a career within the psychology field, how to create paper and poster presentations for conferences, and so on. I learned how to be a research assistant, wrote a research proposal and created my own IRB-approved research project under a mentor, and presented the project at two conferences.

Why am I telling you this? I am using a personal anecdote to point out that until I attended Georgia Southern University, I had little to no introduction on how to truly work within the field of psychology. I am neither criticizing my community college nor the professors (both were fantastic. They introduced me to psychology, memorable figures, the history of the field, and some writing. And yet, I was fairly lost during my first few weeks at Georgia Southern University, and it took me some time to adjust to scientific thinking.

I am also not the only student to be faced with this conundrum. Many of my past and present classmates and colleagues had a hard time adjusting to this, because most high schools and many community colleges only teach MLA format and very little science outside of their standard biology and chemistry courses. As a result, many students enter the psychology field thinking it will be an easy major because it is not a “true hard science” like biology or chemistry. Because of these incorrect assumptions, I have seen classmates fail within the field, or drop out altogether, because psychology was not what they were lead to believe.

If we wish to create and keep passionate scholars within psychology, earlier exposure to the research process is crucial for students. I understand that some schools, like the community college I attended, are not research facilities. Therefore, they would not have the resources to fully introduce students to psychology research. But, they can include resources for students to research on their own. Students are ultimately in charge of their education, but students need to know what they should be looking for as well.

The wonderful thing about this dilemma is that it is relatively easy to fix. All schools and professors really need to do is introduce students to APA, research design and processes, and academic reading and writing earlier, perhaps in all standard Introduction to Psychology courses nationwide. We will see students pick the field for the right reasons and develop a passion for research and writing much earlier. They will pick solid career paths and stick with them, and know exactly what steps they need to take to get there. Psychology students too often only find their career paths because of an epiphany, and in our go-go-go society, that is not enough. Psychology students deserve to know exactly what they are getting into at the beginning, so let’s give future psychology students the information and tools they need to succeed.

Let’s Conduct an Experiment

Psi Chi members, did you transfer from a community college to a 4-year university? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below (member login required).

Tags:  A Better You  All Things Psych 

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