CollegeAdvisor.com presents its majors series webinars on Psychology in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with college students and alumni. Our CollegeAdvisor panel will share their insider perspectives on how they chose their majors, how they applied successfully to colleges, and how they pursued their majors in college. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
So the recording now it’s starting. Hi everyone. Welcome to the college advisor webinar in psychology to orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. And in the public chat, you can download our slides in the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s get started
here. Hi everyone. I’m Gabrielle. I graduated Barnard in 2018 as a psychology major, and I’m currently finishing my second masters degree at the university of Pennsylvania in mental health counseling. Okay. Hi everyone. I’m Allison. I am currently a sophomore at Harvard. I am majoring in psychology and I’m minoring in global health and I’m on the pre-med track.
So I’m interested in pursuing psychiatry so that med school then pursue psychiatry after it.
So the big question, what led me to my major, I think I’ve always been really curious about what makes people do what they do. And at a young age, I didn’t realize that that directly correlated to how the brain works and how we interact with people. But as I started working in helping roles like teaching and working at an autism center, I started to understand more about what the job of a psychologist or a therapist or a psychiatrist looks like.
So when I went to college, I actually thought I was going to be on the pre-med track. I love little kids. I wanted to be a pediatrician. And when I really got down to the nitty gritty of it, what I really loved about being a pediatrician was the idea that I could support and help families with their child’s development.
And it wasn’t worth crying over a calcium. To do anything but that so I ditched the pre-med track and I ended up in psychology, which really needs all of my interests of research, creativity, and community support. And I made that choice from the middle of my freshman year and never looked back awesome.
And for me, so I’ve always been interested in mental health and I’ve also always been interested. And the pre-med track. So kind of like the natural point between those two is pursuing psychiatry, where you get to people, help people with him, mental health, but also like you’re a physician, like you got med school and stuff like that.
So I actually was initially not concerned psychology at all. To be honest there was a bit of like a stigma at my school that like, psychology was a major that you did if you like, didn’t want to try very hard. But that was not, that’s not at all my experience. I, for some reason, like let that get to me.
But that’s silly. You should never, a lot of people are saying about your major, make your decision for you. So I was so glad that I actually switched from a major called history of science which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about the history of science in to psychology, which I didn’t actually decide until the start of my sophomore year.
So like relatively recently, And it’s been really, really fantastic because just like every, I’ve also always been interested in like what makes people make certain decisions and especially clinical psychology. So like what happens when things go wrong? And when people start experiencing mental difficulties or mental health challenges so when I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue history science, I looked at all the psych classes and I was like, wow, these all sound amazing.
And I managed to also find a particular track within the psychology major at Harvard that lets me take some like global health classes and history science classes all together with my psychology major and kind of blend that altogether. And that’s fantastic for me cause that kind of covers all of my interests.
So I am really, really enjoying the psychology track so far. It’s really, really cool.
Okay. So I can talk about the extracurriculars that I did in high school. So I’ll just go through some of them the first and two biggest and most important things to me that I do. In high school where a couple of things, the first one being mental health advocacy. So I started an organization in high school to advocate for mental health among students.
And we were like a student led organization trying to change PLCs and improvements off awareness. And that was really important and really exciting work for me. That like kind of was a preview in psychology, which was really cool. I also prioritize educational equity. I co-founded a nonprofit organization with some funds to teach science, technology engineering and math lessons at under-resourced schools.
Cause I went to a really big school district where they didn’t have a ton of resources for all the schools they had. And a lot of schools didn’t have the money and the funding to get to do like fun science experiments or things like that. So it was really fun because I got to develop those lessons and work together with a bunch of different people in my high school to basically teach a bunch of.
Elementary and middle schoolers, different science, engineering topics, and it’s super, super fun. I also did science Olympiad. I love science Olympiad back in high school. I have always been interested in the hard sciences. So that’s how I was able to kind of express it through sense of yet. And they also did scientific research.
So I did some research in like the hard sciences working in biomedical engineering labs. And then I switched over later in high school. When I realized I actually was more interested in more like psychology oriented stuff. I switched over to doing. Psychology research to understand what the issues were with youth mental health in like among high schoolers across Kentucky.
So we’ll go back to Gabrielle talk more about what she did in high school. Yeah. It’s in high school. I spent a lot of my time working, so I started out as a volunteer at an autism center and ended up applying for a job there and kind of working my way up the ladder from a mentor to an, a vocational provider.
So I was working with teenagers on the autism spectrum, helping them develop social skills and doing research to track their goals while we were at it. In addition to that, I also taught preschool at my local temple. So I was working with really little kids. As I mentioned, I wanted to be a pediatrician that interest has been with me for as long as I can remember.
In addition to that, I was on the varsity swim team and a cheerleader I did on campus tutoring and I was also the vice president of philanthropy for the national honor society. So a little bit of everything.
When I think back on my college application process, I really think I left doubt. I picked about eight schools that were all places I could envision myself at, within the range of safety match and reach, which if you don’t know much about that already, I’m sure you can learn more through one of our other webinars.
Among those schools. I did a little bit of traveling. I looked at the programs they had and I visited the campuses. And when I visited my campus, I fell in love with Barnard. I applied early decision and I was lucky enough to get in early enough that I could withdraw all of my other applications. When I look back on that process, though, what I really wish I had known was that writing that perfect essay takes so much time.
I wish I’d started earlier. I wrote draft after draft, after draft, before I found something, I could even start to work on editing. So for those of you who are even starting the process, now be patient with yourself and maybe just start thinking about ideas that excite you to talk about. Yeah, awesome.
Mine was actually very similar. So when I started, I had developed, listed about 12 schools a mixed, just like real saying of those reach match and safety schools. And as far as my essay writing went, it was like super, super similar. I knew it was really important to have a strong college essay that really conveyed my personality and what I stood for and what was important to me.
So I wrote tons of tons of drafts. I always really emphasize, and I’m working with students the importance of having a really strong idea. And that’s what took from me. I had to brainstorm just like every possible idea. And then finally I was able to pick one that I really liked and then Josh and divine, she edited a bunch until I finally got to my final personal statement, which I was very glad to be done with it because it took forever.
I ended up applying early to Harvard because I really loved the school and I was super interested in going. And then I found out that I had gotten in early which that comes out in December. So after that I lost a lot of motivation to finish elicits hospitals. I ended up applying to four schools and then obviously I ended up at Harvard.
And the thing I wish I’d known is super similar to Gabrielle. The earlier you start the better. So if you are here and you’re starting your process, like that’s fantastic. I didn’t end up starting until like September of my senior year. And that was like not a good decision. I was super stressed out about it.
There were so many things I had to do from like making my list to actually coming up with the essay idea, to writing the essay, to editing the essay and filling out the activities, portions and interviewing and find recommenders and all that kind of stuff. So I definitely wish I had started earlier.
And especially like even as early as over the summer, I wish I had just like, started that process. So it wasn’t as stressful when I was doing it as a senior. So as far as extracurriculars go, I was pretty heavy on the research track. I really thought I wanted to be a researcher down the road. So I spent as much time as possible in labs.
I worked at a lab that looked at the impact of socioeconomic status on infant cognitive development at Columbia. And then I worked at Barnard toddler center which is a preschool where they also run. Studies to look at separation and anxiety and toddlers. So I was both a teacher and a researcher there.
In addition to that, I was the director of communications for one of our on-campus publications. I was the vice president of philanthropy for my chapter at my sorority. And then I volunteered with an organization called Calla for hunger, which raised money for the Halas that we baked every week. And that money then went to support local summer camp programs for underprivileged children around the city.
In addition to that, I also waitress through college and was a babysitter for many, many families. Yeah. And for me, I have just done the activities that I’m really drawn towards because I get to work directly. People who are in need. And I just think that’s really fun, really fulfilling. So I’m the co president of an organization called the food lab, where we get to teach cooking and healthy eating lessons to students in need across Cambridge.
Which is super fun. We get to get on zoom. Now it’s usually in person. Now we get to get on zoom and teach students how to cook. It’s super fun. I also am a research assistant at Harvard medical school. So I worked for a lab called the mental health for all lab unsurprisingly, we do mental health research.
So I am currently working on a project to understand the impact of the COVID pandemic on graduate students in their mental health. And basically what we can do about that and how we can make the impact of the pandemic less bad on how people are feeling and how people are doing. I also really like to knit.
So I started and I’m currently the president of heard undergraduate knitting circle, which is our knitting club, which is really fun. We get together and we knit socially really also. Partnered with a local community fridge to donate knitted hats and things to unhoused people across the city. I’m on the global health student advisory committee.
So I help plan global health events for students. So they can really engage with global health and learn more about global health topics. And I’m also a peer advising thought, which is one of my favorite jobs. I that’s basically like an RA at most schools is that for Harvard is weird and we don’t have RAs.
We have a combination of peer advising, fellows and proctors. So basically what the peer advising fellow does is they don’t live with you, but they do all the things that RA does. They give you advice, they help you through the college process. So I work with a group of seven first year students just help with that.
I’m answering their questions and just providing like emotional, social, academic support as they’re transitioning into college.
So as you can see the list of common classes that you can take is, is a mile long. I’ll just kind of, and walk you through the first couple of years to get those foundational courses in and explain what my major track looked like. So obviously you take an intro to psychology class, which gives you a really broad overview of all the aspects of this field.
When we talk about psychology, we are talking about so many different branches within it. As you’re about to see, we have social developmental abnormal systems and behavioral neuroscience perception, personality, cognitive, and that’s just the bare minimum. That’s just the basics of understanding how the brain processes.
Information and how, you know, we can even begin to understand psychology as a field. So that’s what the first few years look like. And then after you’ve covered those foundational courses, you’re allowed to broaden into some of the electives that you’ll see in our junior and senior year classes through those electives.
There are a lot of labs that are required as well. But I’ll let Alison talk a little bit more about some of the fun stuff you get to do. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks Gabrielle. So also talk a little bit about just like my experience with those intro classes. Cause I’m only a sophomore. So I’m in the second semester of my second year of college.
I actually, like I said, because I didn’t realize that. I had no inkling that I wanted to do psych until the start of this academic year, I actually took intro psych as a sophomore. It was totally fine. That’s probably totally fine at most schools and it was super interesting. I loved it. And then just like everyone said, I was like so shocked.
There were so many different fields in psychology, but there are, and they’re all different and they’re all really, really interesting and unique in different ways. So definitely like you can totally check some of those more specific fields in psychology out if you’re interested. I’m mostly interested in clinical psychology, but also really like social psych.
And I’d almost like, yeah. And cognitive psych. So I’m, I’m interested in like a lot of things, but it’s really cool because in your junior and senior year is now that you have that foundation in psychology, you’ll be able to take more elective classes and really drill down into more specifically what you’re interested in.
So those electives often like require you to have taken intro psychology, maybe another foundational psychology class. And they can be a big range. We actually listed some of our course titles under the senior year classes. So for example, at Harvard, there’s a class called psychotherapy science and practice, which obviously talks a lot about.
Separate therapy and clinical psychology. This is a class called habits and habit change programming for psychologists, psychology, social connection and belonging, health deposits, psychology perspective. I am actually currently taking a class that’s just called resilience and it’s all about resilience, learning about that as a psychological construct.
So you can dive really deep into any of these like more specific psychology topics and learn a ton about that specific topic. And just like Abby also, there’s also often like lab components. So a lot of times psychology majors will emphasize. Yes, like learning about psychology and learning about what’s already been done and in psychology, but also discovering new things.
So doing research. So that’s a big component for me. In my psychology major, I have to write a thesis by senior year. So it means I have to do a big research project on my own. But they also emphasize learning things like statistics. So for example, if you want to test a psychological phenomenon, you might do a survey and then you have to do statistical analysis on that survey.
So they might teach you statistics, they might teach you programming. You might also take like a research methods course that teaches you. Like, this is how you do research and this is like best practices for research. And you might do those like throughout your sophomore, junior and senior years.
So for example, I’m actually currently in two classes that focus on the process of psychology research. So that’s like my summary of juniors in your classes at Gabrielle. Did you want to talk a little bit about the classes that burner? Because some of these sounds super, super interesting.
Absolutely. So one of the best parts about psychology is that it can be applied to absolutely anyone out there and because you know, no group of humans or no two humans are alike. There’s a lot of research out there that kind of parses through and gives us almost smaller subgroups. So you’ll see, we have electives like women in psychology, particularly at a women’s college.
That’s a big course, as I’m sure you can imagine a child psychopathology. One of the things I should be clear about is we have a lot of lingo in here, like psychoanalysis psychotherapy. Biology that’s when you apply the psychology to the actual work of trying to give people support in making changes to their life.
Psychoanalysis in particular is what people mostly know as psychology, which is Freudian and is actually kind of funny because even though Ford is the most known psychologist, he’s the one that most people use the least. So some of those words are really big and intimidating, but as you get further into your psychology major, you’ll learn a lot more about the language that we use and how different each of these classes are.
We look at things like the psychology, the cephalopod, I believe we have a canine psychology class at Barnard. We have all kinds of classes about you know, addiction about eating disorders, really any area of interest that you might have, Barnard has a covered. In fact, as I was putting this together and going down the list of electives, there wasn’t enough room to even get a quarter of the page on here.
Yeah, definitely. It’s, isn’t the exact same at Harvard. It’s actually challenging for me as a psych major, trying to pick what classes are going to take, because we offer probably 50 upper levels like collectives which is awesome because you get to take, there’s basically whatever you’re interested in, there’s a course for you.
And that’s super, super exciting for just learning more about psychology and even looking at Gabrielle’s list. I’m like, I want to take all of these classes here. So there’s tons of really, really interesting things that you can get to explore as a psychology.
oh, this was a hard question to answer. Took me a long time to get there, but my favorite class is the psychology of creativity. Again, if you read this through, you’ll see a lot of really big, fancy words, psychodynamic, unconscious incubation psychometrics. Essentially what we did was we took all of the information that we have in research about the brain and applied it to the way that humans can be creative.
And so as a class, we read theory and also went out into the world and went to art museums and read novels. And, you know, part of our coursework was trying to recreate a story in the style of the artists that we’d read, or look at a piece of art and compare it to another artist from a completely different time, because we were trying to see how creativity emerged across the board and how it worked out in our own brains.
So for me, it was exciting to have the theory and then the practice, and then to see it play out in my own personal. Yeah. Yeah. And my favorite class is actually very similar not in terms of topic, but in terms of why, like it’s much. So it’s a class that I just mentioned that I’m currently taking the upper level levels, like elective called villains.
It’s very simple name and we’re all we’re learning about is how resilience is defined and how it’s influenced by different factors. So this is also really interesting to me because it’s something that I find to be very relevant to clinical psychology and psychiatry because resilience is defined in psychology in a few different ways, but basically as like the ability to bounce back or grow from challenging experiences or trauma.
So it’s super, super interesting because I get to learn about how. Resilience is created. And what different factors influence the different degrees of resilience people have and how resilience looks so like the different things people do to bounce back better from traumas and difficult experiences.
And it’s also very similar to Gabrielle was describing where it’s really fun because we get to like actually get ourselves involved in the class. Sometimes it almost like sounds like a self-help book because we’re learning about how to be resilient ourselves. And also what makes it, the people resilient.
We’ve gotten to read books and that resilience and admire resilient people and how they’ve overcome really challenging and difficult circumstances to be very successful and how they’ve managed to cope very well in the everyday lives. And they’re very happy. So learning more about basically what makes people.
Do better after a challenging experience or what makes people not have outcomes that are as good. And it’s just a really, really cool class it’s really interactive. And it’s just a really fascinating topic as well.
Again, as we’ve been saying over and over again, there are so many different routes. You can take this even within the realm of academics which means that the realm of work you can do is just as big, if not bigger. When we talk about therapists, those are people who have taken psychology and then gone on for higher education.
The therapist is pretty all encompassing. So we have a clinical psychologist, which is an individual who has completed a clinical PhD, and it’s worth noting. You can have a PhD in all kinds of fields, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are then eligible to be a therapist. We have mental health counselors, which is what I do.
And even in that field, it’s really specific. So I work with families and children. I work at a community mental health site right now seeing kids aged five to 15 and their families, but I’ve also been a school counselor. I worked at a high school last year. I have some friends and classmates who are in the same program as I am, who are in hospital settings and who are in residential centers.
You can be a social work. If you want to be a therapist, you could social work is similar to mental health counseling, but a little bit more involved in the systems in place and our government. And you can of course be a school counselor. So that’s what we talk when we talk about therapist, but then we also have psychologists which tend to be a little bit more research-based.
So that’s that PhD in things like social, cognitive, developmental and really there’s quite the range. Just like there are a number of classes that are offered. There are a number of areas that you can develop your research, but again, as a PhD route I’ll let Alison talk a little about psychiatry and kind of skip down a little bit.
So you can go into things like human resources with a psych degree, you can go into behavior analysis, which is similar to what you would do as a counselor, but you’re not necessarily doing the reflections and the guidance. You’re just you know, taking a look at behaviors and implementing certain pre-organized pre-organized treatment plans and so on and so forth.
You can be a case manager, which is somebody who works at a hospital or a mental health community center or at a residential treatment center and manages the clients and the people who are there and using those services. Those are also people who work with agencies like the department of child protection services, or who work with agencies who place kids and adoption case managers are people who essentially follow a client from place to place and manage their needs on behavioral health level.
Alison, why don’t you give us a little bit of insight into the rest of the. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks Gabrielle. So obviously, like Aaron mentioned, like I mentioned earlier, I’m interested in psychiatry. So would that balls is you’re still helping people with their mental health and whatever mental health difficulties I might be experiencing.
But you also go to medical school. So you have that like medical school training, that medical school background and then you can use basically a range of different therapies and potential treatments to try to help your patients. So that might involve anything from like talk therapy, like what you might’ve seen in the movies to help people with their mental health by talking about it.
Like it sounds like, and then there’s also a combination, things like medications and things like that you could prescribe. So basically lots of different like options for therapy, for the people that you’re trying to treat and help And then Gabriel talks about a lot of these. But the other thing that I want to mention about a psychology degree is that you can basically do anything with it.
Psychology is fantastic because you’re learning about people and how people work and in literally every profession that anyone could possibly imagine, you’re going to be working with people in some capacity. So we listed some things on the side that are like very like psychology, like, like very directly related to psychology.
But there’s other things that are on our side and other things that aren’t on our side that also could be like useful with his psychology degree. So like sales and marketing, for the, for example, that definitely uses psychological principles and that kind of getting in people’s heads and figuring out what’s most effective.
For to sell a product. So basically there’s a huge, huge range, but like some of the main categories are like directly seeing patients and helping them with their care, doing research, like being a professor and teaching, or bring your psychology training into like something entirely different. And something like sales and marketing and using those psychological principles to help inform that kind of work.
All right. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides in the handout tab or from the link in the public chat, moving on to the live Q and a, or read through the questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.
So you can see. And then read them out loud before our panelists give you an answer. You can direct your questions to one specific panelist or all. We’ll give an answer as a heads up. If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.
Where are you guys able to hear that? Yeah, I hear you. Okay. Our first question is what types of classes would you recognize an interested in a psychology major and take while still in high school? Okay. I think you went in now just a little bit, but it was your, what was the question? What kinds of classes can you take in high school if you’re interested in psychology?
Yes. Okay. Awesome. Yeah, so I can start a great one is AP psychology. So not every school offers that, that it’s totally fine if your school doesn’t. But if your school does yeah. For AP psychology, I know it’s a really interesting class. I actually didn’t even take it in high school and here I still am as a psych major.
But I do know it’s, it’s gotten like, it got great reason at my high school people really enjoyed it and find it super interesting. So that is a really great option if you don’t have AP psychology, but you have another psychology class, it’s still fantastic. So a really great and interesting opportunity.
And there’s also a lot of things that are like connected to, or related to psychology. We talked today a lot about like the different types of psychology at there are developmental social clinical. Things like that. So things that are also connected to psychology could be like neuroscience. So for example, if you have a class like, like about the brain or even about like human anatomy or human functioning, that could be really interested in connected to psychology.
But honestly you could figure out a way to connect. Basically, every discipline is like ecology. So if you’re interested in getting like a big overview, I’d definitely recommend trying to take a class like AP psychology or regular psychology. You could even try and take those through outside resources, like Khan academy, if they’re not offered at your school.
But that’s what I would recommend if you’re interested, if you know your interest in psychology, but you’re still in high school
open. I think we lost Gabrielle again. All right. So the next question is what do psychology related internship chips usually include? Okay. That’s a great question about internships. It’s great. There. I think you’ve got that because it was a good to do both in the school and the college. So again, in high school, to be honest, I wasn’t that engaged.
It’s like I was excited, no clue I wanted to do it. I knew I was just in mental health, but not necessarily like studying psychology in college. So as far as it might look, I’ll talk a little bit how it might look in high school and also how it looks for me in college. So in high school that can basically be whatever you’re interested in applying psychology to.
So for me, I was interested even though I didn’t necessarily know it at the time, I was actually interested in clinical psychology and figuring out what happens when things aren’t going exactly quite right in people’s heads and like what we can do about and how we can improve that. That’s what I was interested in.
So I did a lot of work on mental health. And I, like I said, started basically a school club back in high school to try to advocate for better mental health and improve students’ mental health awareness in my high school and my community and across my state. But you can also do a different internship in whatever, like you’re interested in.
So like, let’s say, you know, you’re super interested in research in social psychology. You could totally like look for a local university and see if they’re doing any research in social psych. Or if you’re interested in applying psychology to like marketing and sales, you could look for like a business internship.
So I would definitely think about like what you want to apply psychology to in high school. And it’s actually pretty similar in college as well. It’s kind of the same thing where I’m thinking about, well, I know I’m interested in clinical psych, so what I’ve done. In my summers is I worked last summer for a mental health non-governmental organization in India.
Doing research on mental health and how we can improve mental health for different populations, both really young people or old people and everyone in between. And next summer, I’m going to be volunteering for Samaritans, which is a local organization that helps run the national suicide prevention lifeline.
So those are both things that really appeal to me because I’m interested in clinical psych, but there might be different opportunities for you to just in a different part of psychology, different applications
and Gabrielle, is there anything that I missed or anything that you want to add about.
Yeah, I was just going to hop in and say to Alison’s point, when you think about what you want to do in the field of psychology, it’s really, I think it’s such a broad field that it’s hard to know. Exactly. I started out working in an organization that was already applying mental health interventions.
And so through that realm, I kind of got to see what all the options were, what it looked like. It was a backdoor in. But that was a really great opportunity. I lucked out on. If you know, for sure you want to look into clinical psychology or you want to do something academic, I cannot impress upon you enough.
Start the research early. PhDs in psychology are incredibly competitive. And so they want to see years and years of research on your resume, which means that as soon as you can start doing it, they want to see it. And I know it can be hard to figure out exactly what you want to do with a psychology degree, but I would encourage you just to explore as many different realms of psychology as possible, because you might find that the thing that you thought you wanted to do is no longer what you want to do.
Awesome. Okay. Our next question, we’ve actually had a bunch of questions like this, but they all pretty much are. What is it like to follow the pre-med track within psychology? That’s a great person. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to say new questions for me. But also because Gabriel, I know you were initially interested in that since you ever want to jump in, but okay.
So it is kind of a lot it very much depends on your school. But for me, basically, this is what it looks like. I have my psychology requirements for my major which obviously includes a lot of psychology classes. Then separately from that, I have all my pre-med requirements. So that’s typical classes that you might expect as a pre-med.
So those generally involve about a year of biology, about a year of chemistry and organic chemistry. So in inorganic and organic chemistry a math class, usually calculus. A statistics class and then physics and then English slash writing. So there’s a lot of requirements there. And then, because I also have a minor in global health, I also have a couple of classes that I use taking global health.
So it is a lot because there’s less overlap between my major for psychology and my pre-med requirements. And there would be for other majors for instance, like a lot of my friends are biology majors. They have a lot more overlap because you have to take biology classes for your major and biology classes for pre-meds.
So they kind of like double count. I have a little bit less of that for my major pre-med, but it’s still completely doable. The other day, one thing that Harvard requires us to do as psychology majors is to plan out all of our courses for the rest of college. When we’re sophomores are, it sounds like a lot.
It’s totally fine. It’s not as stressful as it sounds. But there’s actually like tons of room in my schedule for me to still take like electives and finish everything that I need. For college into graduate with my bachelor’s degree in psychology. So it’s a lot of requirements, but especially if you really, really like psychology and you also want to be pre-med, which I am, both of those things.
I really like pre-med and I really liked psych. Then it’s completely doable and also really interesting cause honestly, like my psych classes don’t really feel like work pretty well. The classes are notoriously challenging. And I can certainly speak to that cause I’m currently in organic chemistry right now and it’s really hard.
But it’s honestly kind of balanced out really well by my psychology classes. Cause I know, even though I have that chemistry exam on Friday, I’ll always be able to go back and like read a super interesting psychology papers and like that. So I’m also just going to hop in and follow up on Allison.
I did say I started out pre-med and one of the benefits that was actually, I didn’t have to change that many courses when I did that. I was no longer pre-med because the psychology major at Barnard and I believe at other schools as well, requires two years of a lab science or two semesters. I’ve apologized a lot of science outside of psychology.
So I had already taken my bio when I thought I was pre-med. Additionally, the school requires a like a series of Rex or I’m sorry, requirements to graduate at. Not every school has them, but Barnard certainly did. And I had to take a math class. So when I took my statistics class at Barnard was also going to contribute to both my pre-med track and my eventual graduation.
When I ended up yeah. Leaving the pre-med track, I was just fine because I needed that anyway. So there is a lot of flexibility with what’s like where that overlap is in the major and in the track. And I would encourage people just to be mindful of that when they start planning their first-year schedules.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a really great point. Thanks for pointing that out. Gabrielle Herbert actually probably has less than typical overlap between psychology and pre-med. So it definitely depends on your school as well. And just like I said a little bit of advanced planning can really take you a long way.
So if there happens to be some classes that overlap between psychology and pre-med then those might be great classes take freshman year while you’re still kind of figuring things out, figuring out whether or not that’s really what you want to do. And then that way, if you decide, oh, I don’t want to be promoted or, oh, I don’t want to be psychology, then you are like, totally fine.
You’re still you’re not at all, like behind it, anything, because you did classes that would count to either thing.
Awesome. Okay. Well one quick thing I wanted to clear up that I’m seeing in a lot of the questions is that high, I assume at most colleges pre-med is not actually a major, it’s a series of requirements and classes you have to take, but you would still major in something like biology, chemistry, or like Alison psychology.
So you can. Our next question was sort of touches on some of the things you two are saying is, could you describe the uniqueness of psychology programs in major top colleges, as you know,
I think when we talk about the uniqueness of psychology it’s important to touch on something else and brought up a little bit earlier, which is that there’s a little bit of a stigma surrounding this degree. Historically this has been something that people consider to be accessible. They consider it to be a soft science.
And part of that is due to the fact that it’s a really new field. So like the earliest psychologists that we really consider to be legitimate date back to the late 18 hundreds and the psychologist that we refer to most frequently, or like the 1950s, which means that this field has been around for less than a hundred years.
And when you keep that in mind it’s easy to think that psych is going to be like a no biggie major, but the reality is, and certainly at a top college that there are so many areas that are unexplored, that it’s actually really complicated. And when we talk about what makes a psychology program at a unique, at a top college unique, we’re looking at schools that have either resources and be the diversity of professors to really open up the student’s eyes, to all the different areas that you can go with your interest in psychology.
So classes like psychology and women, I think is fair. That’s fairly standard across the board, but classes like you know, resilience are kind of hard to find classes like the psychology of canines, kind of hard to find a toddler center that also facilitates research. Those are really unique to the environments that we were in.
And I think that’s representative of what a major top college can provide. Additionally, top colleges tend to pour a lot of their funding into research above all else. And once there’s funding in research, that means there’s more opportunity for students to be involved. And even if you don’t want to be in a research based profession, I can tell you now my field, which is not as research based as other areas of psychology are, I’m much better at my job because of the time I spent doing research with human subjects.
And I have been given that feedback by supervisors. So I, I really think that one of the benefits of the top college is the emphasis on research and the resources that they have to expose you to really complex, right. Yeah. I, 1000% agree with that. Psychology is it’s actually not easy just like everyone else.
It’s super interesting and you can get super, super complex looking at like different models that explain things and bring tons of different concepts and vocabulary words and jargon together. But it also makes it super, super interesting. So I completely agree. That’s one of the great things about the major top colleges is that all of them probably have really great psychology programs because there’s resources to fund research and different diverse professors.
That’s fantastic. I can just briefly speak about the uniqueness of psych at Harvard. I can’t really speak to, because this is just my experience. I’m at Harvard. I am in a program. I mentioned that I’m on this specific interdisciplinary track within psychology at Harvard. Yeah. And it’s this program called mind brain and behavior.
So that is a track that unites a lot of different fields, including psychology, history, science, computer science linguistics, which maybe one or two others that I can’t think of off the top of my head neuroscience, and maybe one more. And if you decide to go on this mind brain behavior track, you are actually required to take at least one or two or three other classes in like different domains within that like mind brain behavior umbrella that aren’t like psychology classes or aren’t computer science classes.
So I really love that because it lets me take both psychology and history of science classes, which is really important for me because. It lets me be interdisciplinary and take ideas and learnings from psychology, but also ideas and learnings from the history of science and the history of mental health and the history of mental health and equities and combine all of that together in a program that I know will equip me to be a better future physician and psychiatrist.
So I think it’s super, super interesting to be able to unite those different fields because not every school necessarily lets you like take classes outside your major and still cap them towards your major. So that’s just like my specific experience at Harvard with that mind brain behavior track, but I’m sure some schools probably have something similar as well.
Alrighty. So we are about halfway through our Q and a as a quick break. I want to let you know what you can do after this webinar. If you want to get help on your college apps from any of our panelists or other advisors from college advisor, we have two monthly advising. The starter plan and the scholar plan, they’re both monthly subscriptions where you get matched with an advisor of your choice and you get one or two hours of one-on-one advising every month.
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One-on-one through every step of your application process. If you want to discuss this one-on-one with me or any of our panelists, this is a great chance to work with us, continuing on with the Q and a. Our next question is, do you have any research programs that you recommend for high schools? Yes,
that is a good question. Okay. So I actually don’t know any specific psychology research programs for high schoolers off the top of my head. Gabrielle, let me know if you can think of any but I will just say this. I at the start of high school was involved in non psychology related research. You mentioned briefly towards the end of high school, I took AP research.
I don’t know if anyone has that class. That’s a great class. And I also started doing psychology research through that class cause I realized you’re more interested in so I. Reached out to a local professor at the university of Louisville and was like he, he was a professor of clinical psychology and I was just like, Hey, I’m interested in doing a project to better understand the mental health of high-schoolers across Kentucky and urban rural areas.
And he agreed to mentor me, which was super kind and super helpful. And then with his support, I was able to design and conduct my own research study about the mental health of young people across Kentucky. So it wasn’t easy, it was a ton of work, but it was super, super interesting. And it allowed me to get some really, really good experience in psychology research even before college.
And that experience has actually really come in handy. It’s coming in the event, the current lab where I currently work because. To put this briefly into voice with Shogun as possible. Basically. What I did in high school was I conducted a series of focus groups, the conversations with more than one participant.
And then I analyzed that like written data. And then I’m doing that again right now in my current lab. So having that experience was super, super helpful, and that’s definitely one way to go about it. There probably aren’t as many psychology specific research programs out there for high schoolers and there are for the hard sciences, but you can totally reach out to local professors or even non local professors.
You can, especially that everyone’s so used to using zoom these days. You can reach out to someone who wrote us a college paper that you thought was really interesting and just see if they might like take you on for a research project. So that would be my advice. Gabrielle, have you encountered any psych research programs?
My advice is just going to echo yours. So I have not yet found any specific site programs. I think, again, as this field develops, like a lot of summer programs are going to open up their stem concept to include psychology. So keep an eye on that and just kind of see which programs are including that as part of stem.
But to further your point, I would just say, if you don’t ask the answer is always no. And that’s how I ended up in this field. I applied for a job that I was under-qualified for because I’ve been volunteering with an organization that somebody had introduced me to and because I’d been volunteering because I knew the organization so well from that experience, they ended up giving it to me and training me.
And from there, I was able to hop into a more one-on-one. And because I had so many jobs within this organization, can I saw what it looks like to do? Cases management, what it looks like to conduct, research, what it looks like to develop and implement a treatment plan? All the things that I would not have seen if I hadn’t really just pushed for that first opportunity.
So I would really urge you to look into your local behavioral intervention sites. You know, look into your local research at a university is even just starting to look at like the the magazines that come from the American psychological association every month or quarterly to see if even any of that research sparks your interest.
It’s just good experience getting used to the structure and the nomenclature of psychology for sure. Great answers. Okay. So I kind of matched the next two questions together. Which are, are there any parts of your major that you have not enjoyed? And what is the hardest thing about majoring in psychology?
Well, I can tell you clearly I did not enjoy any of my science classes. I have a very, very hard time remembering basic biology, but I’m really glad I took it because when I ended up doing neurologic explanations to some of my clients, I had a little bit of a background in it. So it was miserable while I did it.
And it was really informative and that I knew I didn’t want to be pre-med because of it, but I’m very grateful to it. As far as the hardest thing I’m majoring in psychology goes this is actually outside of the academic Senate, which is that I found there was a lot of stigma to the work that I wanted to do.
I found that I was constantly trying to impress people with what I wanted to do with my degree. And so for a long time, I said, well, I’m gonna go out and get a PhD. I’m going to be a doctor. And you know, then you’ll respect. Well, the reality is people are going to think that they’re going to think about your degree and if that’s not what you need to do or what you want to do, don’t do it.
So the hardest thing for me about taking on this major was proving to myself that I didn’t need other people to believe that what I was doing was hard. It is complicated. It’s an underdeveloped under-researched field, it’s new. And because humans are all unique, you can’t even say, this is the final information on it.
You have to understand that everything’s adapting and adjusting, and that’s really exciting, but not everyone is going to under stand that. And everyone’s going to appreciate that. So as a psych major, I would encourage you to work very hard on blocking out the outside voices and really pursuing the part of this that you like.
Yeah, that’s a really fantastic point because like I mentioned earlier, I almost didn’t do psych because I was basically scared about what other people think. And that’s not a good reason to not do something. I am so glad and so lucky that I wound up looking through basically Harvard’s offerings for psychology courses and realizing that I loved them all.
And they’re all super cool. And then managed to get myself into this major because it’s amazing. But your question is what’s the hardest part or what I have not, what have I not enjoyed? And for me, the hardest part is actually just been balancing and managing the academic workload. I mentioned that I’m also pretty bad, of course.
So I’m balancing psych classes with my hard science classes that I actually really enjoy both of them. Like I kind of have mentioned throughout this webinar, I did a lot of hard science things in high school and I still really like it. But still kind of like what my roots are and what I was first interested in.
So I actually really do enjoy that. But balancing those two things like it kind of uses two very different parts of your brain where for psychology, I’m doing a lot of reading, a lot of writing and a lot of thinking about theories and then for hard science and doing a lot of like memorizing and.
Learning. Well, gee, so balancing that as interesting, but also kind of a nice balance. The other thing is that this probably varies a lot by school, but psychology at Harvard means you’re doing a lot, a lot of like lot of paper writing and paper reading. So I’ve probably read you know, dozens of articles on different psychological topics.
And that works out really well for me because I think everything psychology. Is that just saying, but sometimes there’ll be times when you’re reading a 30 page paper about someone’s psychology experiment and it’s not that interesting or it’s super confusing and sometimes getting through those papers is challenging.
But it’s very rewarding and it also is very informative and you learn a lot too.
I’ve been a few questions sort of around that. So if Gabriela, if you want to touch on that at all, about what, like the extent to which you are writing and reading papers as a psychology major. Yeah, absolutely. As a major, I ended up choosing classes that were almost exclusively written papers by the end.
I’m not a big test taker. I get pretty bad testing anxiety. So in the beginning you start out with classes that are very science-based in that it’s like a lot of cognitive neuro things that we have MRIs to show us. And those are things that are going to be a lot of multiple choice. But they definitely involve a ton of reading.
So you’ll have your thick textbooks and then occasionally a paper to supplement and that’ll show you the most recent research. As you get further into the track, you have more options to take classes that are written papers, more seminar style, or if you go further into research, you might have more.
Multiple choices, your midterms, but you’ll still be expected to pull together a full written paper. This field pretty much relies on the findings of any and all research being summarized in paper format. And then either you create what’s called a literature review, which summarizes all of the papers about a topic, or you write your own research document, which means that yeah, this field has a ton of reading and writing.
I for one, love it. And as you get further into the fields, you can do a lot more narrative stuff. So I started out writing research papers and actually publishing them and then presenting across the world. I presented at a conference in DC. I presented in Prague. I had a paper accepted somewhere in Italy.
Like these are things that you get to do with your research, which is wonderful when it’s all written. But now as I move further into the practice of psychology, I’m writing more things along the lines of case studies and theoretical overviews of individuals that I’m working with, which makes me very grateful that I had the opportunity to practice my writing skills.
In college and that I took so many classes that were writing based. If that is not something you’d like to doing, definitely think about going into some of the more neuro based psych areas for sure.
Okay. Our next question is, do you know of any scholarships for high school students specifically, specifically first gen low income students? Hello
person that comes to mind is the Pell grant. That one specifically covers a lot of low-income students. But that’s the, that’s the best I can think of off the top of my head right now. Perhaps Alison or Hannah have some more ideas on that. Yeah, definitely. So Google is your friend when it comes to scotch finding?
I don’t think this is this like specific question. I can’t definitely can’t think of any like specific scholarships. The plumber has a good one. Off the top of my head as well. And then also looking at QuestBridge that’s also just a really great program overall for first gen low-income students.
So but definitely again, Google is your friend. There are a lot of really amazing really needed programs out there for first gen low income students. So I would, you can literally like go to Google and look up like scholarships or first gen low-income students. And you’ll probably turn up a lot of results that way, but it’s great that you’re thinking about that because colleges before, so yeah, it’s definitely important.
I agree with Alison that Google is your friend and there are going to be different situations at different schools. So sometimes it’ll be more school specific in terms of scholarships from schools versus outside scholarships. But I also don’t know any sex specific ones. Okay. The next question is do grades or research slash internships matter more when applying to psychology?
I think we’re talking about applying to psych programs in college, it’s about your whole like your whole resume and your whole college application. So most colleges, particularly in the psych area are not looking to like accept you for psych and you have to be a psych applicant. A lot of times you can go into a school and then decide afterwards when we talk about like, after college and graduate school, again, it depends on what you really want to do a clinical PhD.
It frankly, it’s incredibly competitive. And so they’re looking for a GPA of a 3.8 in addition to four years of research and high GRE scores. And I think the same applies with a little bit more flexibility in your GPA. When you talk about other academic PhDs as far as master’s programs go though, they’re more interested in you.
Internship experience and the way that you write about your time in the field and what you know of the field. So it’s kind of when asking that question and we really want to think about like, in the context of where you want to go with that. Degree. And Alison, you may be able to speak to this as well as pre-med going into psychiatry.
And with your experience applying to schools. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Gabrielle. So I completely agree when it comes to what you’re probably thinking about, like most immediately with undergrad as a grad, just like every aside you’re very, very rarely, probably almost never going to be applying to it like a psychology program for psychology and like Olin’s college and they don’t to switch out of it.
So it’s very rare that you’re going to like need something that’s super psychology specific. It’s always good to get that experience if you’re interested in it. But my advice for undergrad admissions is the same as it is for like any other major, basically. So like balance of good grades and research, internships, volunteering, service leadership, stuff like that on your resume.
And Gabrielle already talked a lot about different like grad programs, like PhD and masters, as far as med school. They’re looking for a blend of different things that you’ve done, like as an undergrad before you applied to med school. So the big thing for med school the big standardized test in high school, you have the sat and act in undergrad.
When you’re applying to med school, give the M cat. Which is themed among all pre-bent students, because it’s a really, really, really hard test. You gotta do a lot of studying. You also have to make sure that you’ve taken all the right classes. So I mentioned, I just spoke a little bit earlier about what those requirements are.
You have to take certain classes. You also have to have, you don’t necessarily have to have, it’s good to have a blend of the following things. So research research experience, that’s really big for pre-meds clinical slash shadowing experience. So basically that means getting experience.
Working with patients in some capacity and the reason why they want that is number one. So you can demonstrate that you’d be good at it later. And number two, so they can demonstrate that you actually want to do this. Because pre-med is a lot of school and they want to make sure it’s really what you want to do before you apply.
And last thing is like service and just kind of like a general dedication to giving back to the community and helping people for obvious reasons. That’s what the whole thing is about when you’re a doctor. So they also really emphasize looking at that for med school admissions.
okay. I think we’re going to do one more question which is as someone who isn’t great at math, what are the roots in psychology where it isn’t used as much.
My fields. I happened to really love research. So I do a lot of research on my own independently, which involves statistics. But if you go into more of a counseling area, that’s going to be very wellness based and wellness. Isn’t really quantifiable. So I truth be told with the exception of what I choose to do in my spare time.
Don’t use math ever. And what that means on a college track, you can kind of gear your courses more towards some of the seminars where you’re looking at things like social psych, which will have some research and data look at, but it’s gonna be more about the interactions. And, you know developmental psych again, we’ll have some quantitative stuff, but it’s mostly about the interactions, anything with qualitative data, which you guys may or may not know about yet qualitative data is not numerical.
So if I were to say, I have, you know, five flowers, that’s quantitative that’s number. If I were going to say I have a purple flower, an orange flower, a green flower, and a yellow flower, that’s qualitative. So in your qualitative fields, you’re going to have a lot more report and conversation and interaction and a lot less numbers and figures and science and biology essentially.
Yeah, I just so that they’re definitely use a lot of statistics in psychology. But there’s certain classes and certain tracks in it. Just like everywhere else where you don’t have to. As increased to six. So it depends on the school, whether or not they make you take stats to graduate degree.
But especially if they don’t, then you can absolutely more of things like seminar style classes, where it’s more reading a paper and then writing papers based on those papers.
Alrighty. So that’s the end of our Q and a thank you for all the great questions. Here’s the information again, about our panelists in case you missed it at the beginning, and this is the end of the webinar. We had a really great time telling you about psychology. I hope this webinar was helpful to you and that you feel more prepared with your college applications and goals.
We have a webinar series for February about specific majors, which you can see here. Thank you so much for coming out to tonight’s session. Thanks everyone. Have a good night, everyone.