|Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2017|
Eye on Psi Chi
Fall 2017 | Volume 22 | Issue 1
Pride of Ownership: Do You Recognize the Value of Your Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
Stacie M. Spencer, PhD, MCPHS University
Pride of ownership is used in real estate to refer to the benefit of owning a home and to the pride homeowners demonstrate through the maintenance of their property. The term is often used to describe a home that is on the market as in “this home shows real pride of ownership.” Just as investing in a home results in pride, so should the investment you make in your bachelor’s degree in psychology. The financial investment and the care you take in choosing your courses, developing knowledge and skills, and adding volunteer, internship, and research experiences should result in a pride in your degree that stands out when you put yourself on the job market.
In 2014–15, more than 117,550 students graduated with bachelor’s degrees in psychology, making psychology the fourth most popular major three years in a row (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). If the psychology major is so popular, aren’t psychology baccalaureates proud of their degrees? Unfortunately, outside of the bubble of the psychology department, the value of the major is frequently called to question. And, many psychology baccalaureates don’t see a connection between the knowledge and skills developed through the major and the jobs they get after college (Borden & Rajecki, 2000).
Whether at a family dinner, when introducing oneself in a social setting, or talking to strangers on the bus, there is an almost requisite set of questions that psychology majors are asked and comments that are made. “You’re majoring in psychology? What are you going to do with that?” “You can’t do anything with a psychology degree. All the psychology majors I know aren’t doing anything with their degrees.” On a much larger scale, the value of the bachelor’s degree in psychology entered the Twitter world in 2015 when presidential candidate Jeb Bush stated that psychology majors (and other liberal arts majors) end up working at Chick-fil-A (Mills, 2015).
What Does Pride of Ownership Look Like?
A homeowner shows pride of ownership by taking care of the home and making it look good to others. People who are proud of their bachelor’s degree in psychology
If you can’t do one (or any) of these, don’t worry. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be well on your way to developing a strong and threat-resistant pride in your undergraduate degree.
Potential Threats to Pride of Ownership
There are several potential threats to your pride in having a bachelor’s degree in psychology. These threats can come from others or from within yourself. The first three reflect misperceptions and the fourth reflects a lack of knowledge and experience.
Threat #1: A Misunderstanding of the Differences Between Undergraduate Education and Occupational Training
When someone says, “You can’t do anything with an undergraduate degree in psychology,” the justification is that the undergraduate degree doesn’t train psychology majors for a specific job. True. A bachelor’s degree in psychology prepares psychology majors to succeed in a variety of jobs. In fact, psychology majors have the broad knowledge and skills that employers want. According to a study conducted by Hart Research Associates (2015), employers prefer employees with broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences, and with communication (oral and written), teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, information literacy, and ethical judgment and decision-making skills.
Threat #2: A Misunderstanding of the Differences Between Careers, Occupational Titles, and Job Titles
Job titles, on the other hand, are the names employers use to identify positions within their company. In some cases, a job title is the same as an occupational title. For example, teacher is an occupational title and a job title. In other cases, jobs titles do not have corresponding occupational titles. For example, an employer might seek to hire a Client Liaison, Administrative Coordinator, Student Support Specialist III, or Research Assistant II. I would be willing to bet that you went to college with the expectation you would pursue a career with a recognizable occupational title, not to get a job with a vague title that includes Roman numerals that reflect some employer-defined level. But you shouldn’t devalue your degree just because a challenging and rewarding position has an unimpressive job title.
Threat #3: The Expectation That the Name of the Major Should Appear in the Job Title
Judging the value of the bachelor’s degree in psychology based on whether someone has a position with the word psychology in the title reflects a pervasive misunderstanding of the breadth of the field of psychology. There are many jobs that use the knowledge and skills developed through the psychology major but don’t have psychology in the title. For example, software development companies need employees who can ensure a new app provides a solution to a human need, is interesting, and is easy to use. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care what that job is called because it sounds awesome. But I’m sure that if I had that job, someone would try to tell me the job is a waste of my undergraduate degree in psychology.
Threat #4: Insufficient Career Exploration and Professional Development
Developing Pride of Ownership and Protecting Yourself From Potential Threats
I can tell you to be proud of the knowledge and skills developed through the major, and I can tell you that the knowledge and skills you gain through the major are important for a wide range of occupations and jobs. But pride comes from discovering it for yourself. Doing the following activities will open your eyes to how incredibly valuable your degree is.
Questions and comments about the value of your bachelor’s degree in psychology are not likely to go away when you develop pride in your investment. Rather than get frustrated or defensive, help educate the people who question your degree. When someone asks what you will do with your degree or one day asks what psychology has do with your job, I hope you say, “Oh, my! Where do I begin?”
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American Psychological Association. (2013). APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major: Version 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/undergrad/index.aspx
Appleby, D. C. (2016). An online career-exploration resource for psychology majors. Society for the Teaching of Psychology’s Office of Teaching Resources. Retrieved from http://teachpsych.org/resources/Documents/otrp/resources/appleby16students.docx
Borden, V. M. H., & Rajecki, D. W. (2000). First-year employment outcomes of psychology baccalaureates: Relatedness, preparedness, and prospects. Teaching of Psychology, 27, 164–168. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/S15328023TOP2703_01
Hart Research Associates. (2015). Falling short? College learning and career success. Retrieved from Association of American Colleges and Universities website: http://www.aacu.org/leap/ public-opinion-research
Mills, C. (2015, October 24). Jeb Bush: Psych majors work at Chick-fil-A. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/jeb-bush-psych-majors-work-at-chick-fil-a
National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). Bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study: Selected years, 1970–71 through 2014–15. Digest of Education Statistics 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_322.10.asp
Stacie M. Spencer, PhD, is a professor of psychology and the director of the BS in Health Psychology program at MCPHS University (formerly the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Boston, MA). She received her PhD from Northeastern University, MA. Dr. Spencer teaches a series of career exploration and professional development courses, and conducts research on problem-focused learning and interprofessional education. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2017 (Vol. 22, Iss. 1) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology