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Published by: Codie on Dec 11, 2008
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Making the Most of Your Time at College
our time at college will go by quickly, and if you think only studying the material and making decent grades will help yousucceed, you are wrong. Employers don’t really care if you can recite atimeline of Freud’s publishing (unless you are going to be hired as aFreud historian); they care what you have experienced, perhaps writinga senior thesis showing your effective writing style, perhaps doingresearch, perhaps being a mentor to incoming students. What you getinvolved in and what you do with your time are just as—if not more—important than the content you learn in the classes you take.That’s not to say that you shouldn’t study or learn the material inyour classes; what it does say is that if you want to graduate and get a job or go on to graduate school, you have to start making plans duringyour entire college career, not just that last year or semester. This chap-ter focuses on the many ways that as a psychology major you can maxi-mize your college experience so that you can find success when youfinish your degree. (Chapters 4 and 6 cover where to find and continuethat success, whether in graduate school or the working world.)This chapter focuses on getting the most from your classes, explor-ing career possibilities early in your college experience, and takingadvantage of real-world opportunities such as internships and job shad-owing. Networking while in college is also covered. Networking after
school is critical to finding a job, but you should start learning andusing this skill while you are in college.
Planning Your Classes
Most employers and graduate programs arent interested in the contentyou know. They want to know what skills you have acquired, in partic-ular what social skills. Can you work with a team? Get along with adiverse group of people? Take the initiative? Be persistent? (This followsthe same list of characteristics that most employers seek; this list is cov-ered in Chapter 5.)The most important goal is to have some understanding of what you want to do. If you want to be a counselor, you should look at what Dean Appleby of IUPUI calls the “KSCs” or the knowledge, skills, and char-acteristics required for that field. Your major course work will be deter-mined by the path you select, but you can then add to this knowledge by a careful choice of a minor and electives. For instance, if you want to useyour psychology degree to get a job in advertising (that’s a commonpath), you might get a minor in advertising or take courses in marketingresearch and analysis. If you want to use your psychology degree to work as a school counselor, you may want to take education classes.If you arent sure what skills a particular path requires, look into it inmore depth. (Chapters 6 and 7, for instance, introduce some commonand not-so common paths pursued by psychology majors.) You can alsoask your college career department for advice. If they know what youare interested in, they can guide you toward classes that fit that interestand build particular skills. Faculty members are another great resourcefor making recommendations on minors or other electives to take aspart of your complete degree.One thing to keep in mind: If you hate a particular class, considerviewing that dislike in a different light. For instance, if you hate mathand put it off until the very end, are you going to be very competitivecompared to students who are more well rounded (and didn’t avoidmath as much as possible)? If you have a weakness, it might be a betteridea to try to build up that area rather than ignore it. You don’t have tostrive to be a star, but at least think about taking another class in thatsubject so that you are comfortable and more confident.
What Can You Do with a Major in Psychology? 
Should you get a double major? Only if you think it’s critical to succeedin the particular field you are interested in. For instance, if you are keenon counseling immigrants new to America, you might pursue an addi-tional major in a language (Spanish, for instance). You may decide tominor in English as a Second Language as another option.The bottom line is that there’s not some magical combination of classes/majors/minors for psychology majors. There’s just the combina-tion that’s right for you and what you want to pursue.
 Your program may require you to write a senior thesis. This require-ment will vary from program to program and from school to school. Youshould know the exact requirements of your major from the very begin-ning so something big—like a senior thesis—doesn’t sneak up and takeyou by surprise!Some ways to use your senior thesis to help prepare for your futurein psychology include writing your paper on your career field or writinga paper that involves research or synthesis on a key issue related to yourcareer of interest.For instance, you can ask to write your paper on a career interest.Suppose that you are interested in the field of experimental psychology. What does it involve? Where are the challenges in this field rightnow? What are the job opportunities? What is the outlook? How is thisfield changing the way we live? Answering these questions not only cre-ates aninteresting paper, but also lets you focus your school work on auseful topic—learning more about one of your possible career interests. As another idea, think about how potential employers might view your topic. For instance, if you are interested in counseling the elderly,focus your thesis on the demographic rise of the elderly and the socialservice and government programs that this population will need. Thisresearch and the resulting paper will provide you with information as well as experience (you’ll most likely talk to that age group) in dealing with the elderly. If you then use your psychology degree to apply as aretirement activity coordinator (or some other job within this area),your employer is likely to look favorably on not just the paper, but the
Making the Most of Your Time at College

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