Letters from Seniors

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Dear Incoming Psychology student,

            As you begin your four years working towards your Bachelors in Psychology, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your classes. Since there are required psychology courses to take before choosing electives, it is important to register to take them during your freshman and sophomore year therefore you can focus on electives in your junior and senior years. The required classes give alternatives, which gives you the opportunity to choose which areas of Psychology you find most interesting. For example, some of the topics included in the Core 8 are Sensation and Perception, Behavioral Neuroscience, Social Psychology, and Conditioning and Learning. Some examples of electives available are Clinical Psychology, Psychological Testing, and Health Psychology. Also, the Psychology major gives you the opportunity to have a minor so taking advantage of declaring a minor is a benefit. Another benefit of the psychology major is the career development class that is a part of junior year. The career development class prepares you for planning your post-graduate plans. The class gives you the opportunity to create a resume, curriculum vitae, and have a mock interview. Also, the meeting with the professor of the career development class is beneficial to help solidify your proposed plan for after graduation. The class also gives guidelines on how to find internships and research assistant positions.  

            If you are interested in being a research assistant, then applying early to one of the multiple labs in the Psychology department is a good goal. The opportunities as a research assistant are great since it prepares you for higher-level scientific research. I was a research assistant for three semesters and it was a great experience to get to know a professor outside of the classroom. The relationship you develop with the professor is important since they can have extended knowledge about you when writing a letter of recommendation for internships or graduate school.

            Another advantage of being a Psychology student at the University of Scranton is the option to take classes during intersession and summer. The classes during intersession and summer are offered on campus and online. They are offered at a cheaper price than fall and spring semester. By taking one or two classes during intersession or summer, the overall credit load during the fall and spring can be shorter therefore you can focus on more time for other things such as internships.

            Changing your major can be a difficult decision. If you realize that Psychology is not the right major for you, do not be afraid to explore your options of changing your major. I started my college career as a Neuroscience major and then switched to Psychology the spring of my sophomore year. With the help of my advisor, I was able to switch my major. Your advisor is there to help not only with class selection but with any questions you have whether it’s about switching your major or the next step after attaining the Bachelor’s degree. Not only it is important to get to know your advisor, it is important to get to know your professors. Office hours are a good time to get to know then. If office hours conflict with your class schedule, professors are willing to make an appointment with you so you can meet with them.

            Clubs and activities are an important part of your college experience. Get involved your freshman year since it is a great way to meet friends. Some examples of clubs are psychology club, Acapella groups, and Frisbee team. There are also leadership opportunities such as becoming an Orientation Assistant or Resident Assistant. I joined the University Choir my sophomore year and met people that I lived with for two years after meeting them in choir. If I joined choir my freshman year, I would have met even more people my freshman year. Getting involved in freshman year is an important step in having a positive college experience.

            Another way to get involved and meet people is through going on retreats. Retreats provided by the University are a positive experience in my college careers. If you are interested in retreats, there are many different ones that focus on different topics. For example, there is a Disney retreat, Divinely Designed retreat for women, Mother Daughter retreat, SEARCH retreat, and Sports retreat. These retreats are run by student leaders and incorporate small group discussion, which gives you the chance to get to know other people.

            In conclusion, take advantage of all the opportunities that the University of Scranton has to offer not just in the psychology department, but overall. Being a Psychology major is difficult but you will find your specific interest for future plans. One of the most important keys to doing well in college is time management therefore plan your studying wisely!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance into the University of Scranton! As an incoming freshmen, you probably have a lot of questions and worries about the transition from being a high school senior to being a college freshmen. Most importantly, you might have some questions about the university and psychology department. I'm here to answer those questions and calm those nerves because as an incoming freshmen I hoped I had someone to do the same for me.

One of the most common cliches you'll ever hear is “ You'll meet your best friends in college,” which is true to an extent. College tests your friendships because you're going to be spending so much time with them throughout the next four years. For some friends you'll even be living with them, which you won't think is difficult but it actually is. When you're living with your best friends you're spending almost every moment with them. You'll learn it's hard living with a certain friend but that doesn't mean both of you shouldn't be friends, it just means both of you need your space sometimes. If you often find yourself arguing with one of your roommates or even often finding a few of his or her qualities slightly annoying, I would suggest spending some time with another group of friends. A lot of people move out when they don't get along with their roommate, but this is a tremendous mistake. Avoiding the situation won't resolve anything and the best solution is to face the problem and talk it out.

When it comes to friendships in college, a saying you're probably tired of hearing from your parents or guardians is to not give into peer pressure. Well I'm here to tell it to you again. Society has associated certain acts with college (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about). Just because your friends or everyone else says it's cool, doesn't mean it's something you have to do. Your friends should understand you don't want to do it. If they keep pressuring to do it, they're not real friends because real friends will understand that it makes you uncomfortable. Besides the fact that it's illegal for most of your college career, these acts affect your academic career. They take time out of your studying schedule and before you know it, your grades will begin to drop. The purpose of college isn't to hang out with your friends, it's to enhance your education. Keeping this in mind will keep you focused on your studies throughout your four years.

Now when it comes to your academic career, as a fellow Psychology major I believed you chose the right major, but that's just me being biased. The field of psychology is highly underestimated because people don't understand the various career paths we can choose from. Because there are so many career paths we can choose from, I suggest picking up a second major or minor early in your college career. If you wait until junior year to pick up a second major or minor, you'll end up having to take the required courses during your junior and senior year while also to complete the courses for your Psychology major. As someone who picked up a second major during the beginning of their junior year, it's extremely difficult to do. My reasoning was that both majors were fairly similar and required similar classes. However, I didn't take into account the additional courses I would have to take. It required a few courses taken over the summer and a lot of late night studying, and by late nights I don't mean 1:00 a.m. I mean 4:00 a.m. Don't make the same mistake I did by waiting until the last minute to add a major or minor. Also, don't procrastinate because that could be another reason you're up until 4 a.m. finishing your work. I suggest studying during the weekends. This is a strategy I wished I started earlier in my career because I would've done better in a lot of my classes. I know you're probably thinking that weekends are for hanging out and not studying, but if you think about it hard enough it's better than cramming on Sunday night.

All in all, you chose a great school and major. When people say Scranton people are the nicest people you'll ever meet, they're right. The community itself is helpful throughout your college career. If you find yourself lost at any point. There will be someone to help you find your way. The Psychology Department specifically is always there to help struggling students trying to find their way. I hope you enjoy the next four years here. My last piece of advice to you is to never doubt yourself. Never think you can't achieve one of your goals because you can. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on being accepted to the University of Scranton and choosing one of the best majors possible. While it may seem like there is a long road ahead of you, and there is, trust me when I say the next four years will go by very quickly. As a graduating senior psychology major of the class of 2017, there are a few pieces of advice that I want to share with you.

            When I first came to the University I was a biology major. While I was still in high school, I took nursing classes and even became a Certified Nursing Assistant. I was sure that biology was the perfect major for me and the classes were interesting, but something just didn’t seem right. After taking a few psychology electives, I realized that psychology was a much better fit for me. I felt a certain spark in my psychology courses that I didn’t have with biology. That’s why halfway through my sophomore year I decided to officially switch my major to psychology. Therefore, my first piece of advice is that it’s completely fine to change your major once, twice, or until you find the one that truly makes you excited to go to class every day. It can be scary not knowing if you’ve picked the right major. However, I can safely say that I am proud to tell my friends and family that I majored in psychology.

            Another piece of advice I would like to give you is to get involved as much as possible within the psychology community and on campus in general. College is its own special community with all kinds of people. My one regret is that I did not join as many clubs or activities on campus. Your freshman year, especially if you live on campus, will be filled with programs set up by your RA like movie nights and ice cream socials. I strongly recommend making time to go to all those programs because I can almost guarantee that’s where you’ll meet some of your greatest friends. It’s easy to want to join every club on campus your first year there. Personally, as you get older it seems less important to be involved. However, getting involved and staying involved on campus will be one of the most rewarding things you do.

            I’m sure you’re excited about coming to college but also very nervous. Because college can be stressful as well, just know that it is ok to take time off when needed. I’m not advising you to show up to class whenever you feel like it, but I definitely took “mental health days” when I needed them. Being in college I thought I was always supposed to be having fun. I actually thought my experience would be like all the things I had seen on television. When things get stressful just know that it is ok to go home for the weekend because you’re homesick or skip class to sit on the green and drink Starbucks with your friends when it’s 80 degrees out. There were times when I didn’t get a such a good grade on a quiz or homework assignment, but I can’t say that I regret those moments.

             There were times that I considered transferring to other schools. One thing that helped me stay at this university was visiting my friends at other schools. Therefore, I suggest doing the same thing because you will miss your old high school friends and it’s always good to see them. However, visiting other universities will make you appreciate Scranton and all it has to offer even more. With that in mind, make sure to use those resources like the writing center and career services as much as possible. Every professor at this university wants you to do well and excel and whatever major you choose, so go to office hours and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

            Lastly, I just want to say that it is impossible not to make long-lasting connections with other students and even the staff at this university. The years go by fast so make the most of it and spend as much time as you can with the friends you make here. Remember to stay calm because in the end everything works out somehow. Again, congratulations on your acceptance and best of luck with whatever you choose to do in the future.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton. If you are not from the Scranton area, prepare to frequently hear a reference to The Office when you tell people back home where you go to school. For the most part, the University is great. People are so friendly here that, at first, I thought this University must be a type of money swindling trap. It boggled my mind when my family and I were told we could leave our things at a dining table and no one would steal our possessions. Some members of my family still do not believe that the University of Scranton is a real school because the kindness of people on this campus was so jarring. Inevitably, you will encounter a few awful people, but the vast majority of people at this University are pleasant.

            I am quite shy, so, during the first few weeks of my freshman year, I stayed in room instead of talking to people around me. Do not do what I did. Do not spend your first few weeks fearful and hiding. Have courage because the other freshmen around you are also trying to make friends. Those first few weeks are precious for building a foundation for lifelong friendships. However, if you cannot find it within you to socialize during the first few weeks, you will be alright. It may take longer, but either you will find friends or they will find you. Some of those friends will not last, and that is okay because some of them will ask you if you are planning to have strippers are his/her/their bridal shower/bachelor party. Still, treasure the moments you will have and, eventually, have had with all of the friends you make.

            I suggest making friends with your RA and as many RAs as possible. They are students just like you, except it is their job to help you. Have faith in their abilities, and know that you do not have to burden everything on your own. Also, being friends with your RA raises the possibility of her/him/they looking the other way when you have done or are about to do something stupid. I am not condoning underage drinking, but I am suggesting that if you are going to be stupid then do it in a smart way. There are a few psychology courses in which you will learn that the amount of your peers that you perceive drink is much higher than the amount of your peers who do. I know quite a few people who did not have their first drink until they were twenty-one. Even when you are twenty-one, saying no to drinking is rarely not an option. If you choose not to drink until it is legal for you to do so, that does not make you lame. If you have friends who belittle you for not drinking, they are not good friend and you should remove them from your life. If you choose to drink while you are underage, that does not make you a degenerate or a monster. Yes, it is illegal and, if you decide to partake in underage drinking, know the risks that come with it and prioritize your safety.

            Try not to take too many psychology courses in one semester. Almost all of the psychology professors give weekly quizzes based on assigned readings, lecture, and class discussion. For some of your classes, wait until the professor says you need the textbook before you buy or rent it. However, for psychology courses, rent the books immediately. You are going to be doing a lot of reading, so try to procrastinate as little as possible. When you learn about effective studying techniques, use them. Go to class as often as possible, but do not put your grades above your health. Use the resources here on campus, including your professors. Most of them want to help you and see you succeed, especially in the psychology department. Try to save the easier courses for your senior year because senioritis is merciless. Also, at that point, you will want to be hanging out with your friends as much as possible before you all move on to the next part of your lives. From current experience, it is much harder to type a paper when, in the back of your mind, you know that the opportunity to spend time with the people you have grown to love is coming to an end. You may not see some of these people for years, and some of them you may not see ever again. I implore you to make your schedule in such a way that your senior year has twelve credit semesters, especially the spring semester, with minimal work.

Lastly, start to think of what you want to do with your life after college, but do not let it overshadow living your life. The majority of the best memories you have from college probably will not be made sitting in a classroom or planning for what comes next. The best memories will most likely come from clubs you join, activities you participate in, hanging out with your friends, and those couple of times you blew off your responsibilities that resulted in some great stories that you would never dare tell your parents. There are two things my faculty advisor has said to me that I hold dear. First, “Parents are usually wrong.” This is your life and your future. Generally, the consequences of your decisions and actions are primarily going to affect you. It is great to get advice from your parents, but you should be making the final choice on what to do with your life. The second thing he said was, “I’m still not totally sure what I want to do either.” Do what you like until you find what you love. When you find what you love, go after it, but do not forget to enjoy your life beforehand. Do not rush to the end of your journey and/or beat yourself up if you do not know what to do next. Enjoy your journey because you can never take the same one again. If you find that you do not know what to do next, being angry with yourself will not help. Do not waste your last few weeks at the University of Scranton in despair because, if I have learned anything from video games and adjunct professors, looking for your next journey is a journey within itself.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton. I can say the University of Scranton will provide you with the essential resources to help you grow into a successful individual. The environment at the University is an upbeat vibrant one to say the least, and you will always find a friendly face on campus. I must warn you the years go by pretty quick and you want to complete as much as possible in order to get the ultimate experience.

First, you should know college is a completely different experience from high school. When you are assigned readings and assignments do not procrastinate and get it done as soon as possible.  Do not leave anything for last minute and make studying in advance for an exam a habit. I want to stress it is not about memorizing the material and spitting it back out on an exam, but rather understanding the material and applying it. Understanding and applying the information will be key in order to perform well on exams and remembering the information for your future.  I remember how much I struggled academically when I first started because I went about preparing for exams the same way I did in high school. I soon realized that in college memorizing wouldn’t even get me a decent grade on an exam. Stay focused, study often, and never let your work pile up.

As a psychology major I suggest taking a variety of different psychology courses to find what interests you the most. I would also suggest taking field experience your junior or senior so that you can get a feel of what it is to practice and have some hands on experience before entering the real world. It is a great way to build up your resume and possibly start working in the field you would most likely want to pursue in your future.

In order to get the full Scranton experience you should join a club or two. Clubs are a great way to meet new people, further your knowledge about a specific field, and have some fun on campus. From my experience, getting involved in different clubs were a way to get my mind of school work and take part in activities that interest me. Not only are clubs enjoyable, but if you wish you could eventually hold a position that will serve as a new form of responsibility and teach you how to manage your time wisely. It also shows how involved you are with your campus community and you might just form a new hobby depending on what club you join!

I want to stress how important is to take care of not only your physical health, but also your mental health as well. Sometimes the school work, extra-curricular activities, hanging out with friends, and work can get overwhelming which is why it is extremely important to learn how to deal with your stress and manage your time well. Getting enough sleep is crucial if you want to make it through your busy days and be productive. You need to put time aside for your self-care and understand your body is not a robot, it needs to be nourished and taken care of if you choose to perform anything in a successful manner.

The first thing I regret not doing the four years I’ve been at the University of Scranton is not joining a research lab and working with one of my professors. As a psychology major research is an important component and working in a lab with one of my professors would have enhanced not only my knowledge about research, but would help me develop an abundance of new skills. I also regret not studying as much my first semester of my freshman year and letting myself lag behind. After seeing my GPA after my first semester at the university I knew I needed to get myself into shape and started dedicating myself to my studies. I learned how hard it is to bring your GPA up after not doing so well, but it is possible to do so. Although it might seem impossible to bring it up after being so low, with hard work, dedication and motivation anything is possible. One of my biggest regrets was not studying abroad for a semester. I heard thousands of great stories from friends who went away and how many people they formed close relationships with. I heard it is an amazing experience that people will cherish and remember for the rest of their lives.

You should understand as a freshman that you do not need to know exactly what you want to do or pursue and finding what you love to do is important to keep in mind when you decide to choose a career path later on in life. Although you may feel pressured to pursue a certain major and possibly lean to a major that would eventually result in a job that would give you the most money, you must remember that it is important for you to choose what will make you happy.

Make sure to take advantage of all the different opportunities they offer on campus. From studying abroad to attending guest speakers, you never know what you could gain from attending them. Most importantly enjoy your time at college and make it memorable. No one wants to look back and regret not having fun in college. There is no right way to “do” college, so have fun, work hard, and soak in what might be some of the best four or so years of your life. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Freshman,

Turn around before it is too late! You are about to embark on the some of the most challenging years of your life as a college student, especially in the diverse field of psychology. 

If you are having any doubts about staying here at the University of Scranton or even in the right major, remember that you are not alone.  As a graduating senior, I still am unsure if I made the right choice in answering my calling here.  Once that sorting hat was on my head, there was no convincing it or myself otherwise.  While I have my doubts, I am sure that they will never leave and I have come to accept that.  It is a lesson that my undergraduate years have taught me: many adults have no idea what they are doing with their lives and go along with the status quo.

I have come to discover life is a place of constant change and challenge. Humans like to get themselves into messy situations, have irrational and illogical behavior at times, and fall victim to the many theories about why we do the things we do that our psychology ancestors have thought before us.

Psychology is a field that has both its advantages and downsides, like any other, but remind yourself why you chose this major in the first place.  For me, it was due to my friends and family constantly coming to me for advice.  My upfront and honest responses allowed me to see their life troubles objectively and give insight on what I thought was the best course of action. Once realizing that I am that friend everyone seeks out, I had the thought that I can do this for money, and better yet, enjoy every minute of it.

Psychology is engaging in my favorite way to spend time: people watching.  Psychology is the ultimate people-watching activity. I have come to find the more abnormal the behavior, the more I cannot look away.  My years at the University of Scranton have allowed me to have experiences with individuals in the community and prepared me for my current occupation in an inpatient psychiatric facility. 

The moment I knew that I was glad with my decision to attend “Da U” was when I was new to my job and had the impression I knew a lot less than I thought.  It was a pleasing realization that the many sleepless and caffeine fueled nights were worth it when I began to interact with professionals already in the field.  I even surprised myself at how much I understood while interacting with esteemed colleagues.  While it might seem daunting and pointless at times, the life of a psychology student will be completely worth every second you missed sleeping or turning down offers to engage in social events in the hill section. 

Even better advice would be to do what I did, use those concepts and theories that you will surely learn in psychology and apply them in the cramped basement social gatherings on the “hill”.  People watch like it is your business and you are being paid for it.  All those experiences will eventually lead you to the place you want to be, and you will be paid for it!

The inevitable place you will land in your career is directly related to your experience in college. Take as many diverse classes as you can. All those free elective credits that we as psychology majors have are there to further our understanding of the world. Since I had to work full time during school, I was limited in my options that I could take. Yet, I am happy with those classes I did take part in. If you have the time, gain as much outside experience as you can. Whether that is an internship, service learning, or even a paying part time job, use these experiences as a place to further enrich your college experience. You will be able to apply psychological principles to the world around you and learn lessons firsthand about how society flourishes. Once you grasp the fundamentals of psychology, observing it in the real world becomes second nature.

As annoying, as it may seem, call your parents at least once a week reassuring them you are safe. Know that everyone will be wearing sweatpants and jeans by the end of syllabus week, so spend that time hitting the snooze button instead of dressing up.

Stick with it when times get tough, and remember that the journey you are embarking upon will some of the best years of your life.

Wishing you nothing but the best,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

To begin, I want to congratulate you on making the decision to pursue a higher education, and for choosing a place like The University of Scranton to do so. It is a huge transition, that is both scary and exciting, and I can relate to how you must be feeling as you enter this new chapter of your life. I want to assure you that you made a great decision in choosing The University of Scranton as your home for the next four years. I transferred to Scranton as a junior, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best choices that I have ever made. The community here is welcoming, loving, and supportive; three things that I did not experience during my first two years at a different university.

Your choice to enter into the psychology department was also a great one! I personally could not have had a better experience with the faculty and students that I have met here. I promise you that you are going to meet some of the smartest, most kind, people you will ever know through this program. The professors in the psychology department are dedicated to your success and wellbeing; you will not encounter one who does not push you to your academic limits and look out for you every step of the way.  The bonds you will form with other students in the department will last a lifetime. I guarantee that you will spend countless hours in the AMH computer lounge- laughing, stressing, and working with your peers who you will share many of the same classes and schedules with.

I would now like to offer you random pieces of advice; things that I have learned through my experiences in college and that have helped me along the way. First off, always remember that everything is temporary. Whether it is stress, anxiety, joy, excitement, drama, pain or any other state of emotion, it all passes. It is sometimes easy to get caught up in certain states of mind, or even with specific situations, relationships, and encounters, but it is really important to be mindful that every state of being is only temporary. By remembering this, it will allow you to focus your energy and time on what is important, and on doing what you need to do in order to be a successful student. On top of this, I think it is also important to tell you to take risks and make yourself uncomfortable sometimes. College is all about new experiences, by stepping out of your comfort zone, whether in class or in your social/personal life, you will allow yourself to grow and evolve as a person. I know that it is sometimes scary to put yourself out there, but by joining clubs, going to events, and talking to people who you normally would not talk to, you will widen your worldview, and you will become a better person from it. This is something that I struggled with when I first entered college, and I sometimes regret letting my fear hold me back from breaking out of my shell in the beginning. So I hope that you find the courage and motivation to allow yourself to sometimes be uncomfortable and scared, because it will only benefit you in the end. Have an open mind; you are going to meet a variety of different people in Scranton, from all walks of life, try to maintain an open mind and open heart as you navigate through college. Be open to new ideas and perspectives, and learn something from everyone that you meet. This is what college is for; it is meant to give you an opportunity to expand your perspective on life. By keeping an open mind, and by avoiding judgment, you will learn a lot about the world. I also want to pass on some advice that I got from my uncle as I was entering college. He told me two things; one was to always go to class. Nothing will destroy your chances of success more than skipping; showing up is key to doing well. If you are allowed one or two absences in a class, then take them, use them for emergencies or for the necessary mental health day, but never go over the allowed absences. Secondly, always try to sit in the front row. I was that girl who always tried to sit in the front of the classroom in every class, and I can honestly say that it played a role in my success. It shows the professors that you want to learn, and it also holds you accountable to being present and attentive. Lastly, I want to tell you appreciate and enjoy every moment that you are here, even the seemingly bad ones. College goes by very fast, I remember being told that and not believing it, but it is completely true. In the blink of an eye, you will be a senior writing this letter to an incoming freshman. So enjoy it, appreciate both the hard times and the good ones. Really allow yourself to be fully present in each moment, and make the most out of all of the opportunities presented to you. 

You are going to laugh, you are going to cry, you will make mistakes, and you will make the best memories of your life. This is a very exciting time for you, and you chose a great place to form your foundation. I hope that college is everything you want it to be and more. I wish you all of the luck and love in the world as you begin this journey. Remember to stay positive, never be afraid to ask for help, and that time flies, so make the most out of every minute you have here.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the world of freedom. I am writing this letter as graduating psychology major of the class 2017, and I would like to share with you some advice that I have learned through my years of college. I want to start out by saying congratulations on your acceptance to college and declaring your major as Psychology. You are already off to a better start than I was my freshmen year. It took me until my junior year to decide I wanted to be a psychology major, which brings me to my first point.

            As you continue your years of college, you will grow and change as a person as you encounter some hardships. Through these hardships, it is important that you realize you are not a product of your circumstances but instead a product of your decisions. With the decisions you are forced to make that seem like the best one at the time, you may realize later on that you messed up. It is okay, you will make mistakes but through these, you will grow and discover more of who you are made to become. I say this, because I had no idea what I was doing when I started college. I went in undeclared at East Stroudsburg University for a year. I then transferred to Wilkes University for nursing, beyond happy I finally felt I knew what I wanted to do in my future, but realized a semester later it was not for me. I transferred one last time to the University of Scranton as a Biology major, again realizing it was not for me and finally settled with relief as a Psychology major.

            My next point of advice; when you feel like giving up, don’t. I was beyond overwhelmed trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and was at the point of leaving school until I could figure it out. I started questioning everything, and finally I realized whatever decision I make do not have to be the end; there is always room for change.  It is in your best interest to hear multiple perspectives but at the end of the day, listen to yourself. I knew I enjoyed psychology before I started college but I was talked out of pursuing it as my major by other people. They were telling me, “there is no money in that field; you will never find a job”.  If I had just listened to myself from the start I would never had to take an extra year of classes from changing my major three times.

            When you begin to feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to ask for help and use the resources that are offered at the University of Scranton. This school is a community filled with people who want to help in any way they can. If your stress level is at an all-time high, make an appointment at the counseling center. If you are having trouble with your career path and unsure what is right for you, make an appointment at career services. I have utilized career services as much as I could. They were extremely helpful in making me feel at ease with my future decisions by directing me to the proper resources in job hunting. If you are having trouble in a certain class or something beyond your control comes up that is making it difficult for you to continue in success, reach out your professors, tell them what is going on. It is very likely they will be understanding and help you in the best way they can. They want you to succeed.

            Lastly, take advantage of socializing opportunities. Get involved in as much as you can.  This may be perhaps the most important piece of advice. I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity of learning outside the classroom. In order to make sure you experience development outside the classroom, start early! I wish I knew of all the opportunities offered here and got more involved. If you know what you would like to do or have a general idea that you will be attending grad school, talk to your advisors about what exactly you should be doing to attain the most success. That may be getting onto a research team where you can develop relationships with professors and other people who share the same interests.  Consider looking into internships that may be of your liking.  If you enjoy traveling like I do, consider studying abroad. My trip to Florence, Italy, expanded my knowledge of myself tremendously. I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan for these things early and gain insight from talking to other people about their experiences and opportunities that could potentially enlighten your career path.

            People have forever told me that college is what you make of it, and that holds to be completely true. With that being said, enjoy being here and take life as it comes! Within these four or maybe five years you will grow and change in your beliefs and how you look at the world. So, I encourage you not to give up when things get difficult and remember that challenges are what makes life interesting but overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. I wish you the best of luck and a successful future, whatever it may hold for you.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations! If you are reading this, you survived the inevitable “What are you going to do with that degree?” and have decided to become one of the University's most elite students, although the sample I base this judgement on may suffer from serious bias. But how, you might ask, can I best use my time here in the psychology department? Excellent question! You’re in luck, Incoming Psych Major, because I have put together a system of three simple steps to ensure your success here in our lovely corner of the campus.

            The first step to success is to make absolutely sure your professors know who you are. I’m not talking about the causal I know your name off the class list kind of being known, either. What I am talking about comes after, and bear with me here, a little interaction between you and your professors. We psych majors are all too lucky to be part of a department with the most friendly and charismatic people you are going to come across on campus, both students and professors included. If you find something about a class or subject matter particularly interests you, ask for more information! Pop in just to say hello to a professor during his or her open office hours! Make sure you are not just there to be an informational sponge and I guarantee that your time here will serve you much better. There is a caution here, however. Not all professors within the psych department are created equal in personality and willingness to go out of their way to help, but as you come to know each of them individually you will find those you click with and those who are better left a polite, “Hello,” when passing in the hallway.

The next step to my program of success is the simple task of filtering down the vast ocean that is the field of psychology into the drinking cup of what you are interested in studying. Luckily for us, step one can be the life preserver that keeps you afloat here, but you must be willing to make the effort to grab it. Setting nautical themes aside, a personal direction in the field is not only necessary for deciding on a future career, but it will help you make the most of your time setting yourself up to achieve great things at The University and beyond. Simply setting up an appointment with one of your professors and asking them what ignited their passion for the subject matter they teach is a great place to start. I’m not saying you need to know exactly what you are doing with the rest of your life by the end of freshman year or you will be doomed, but it certainly helps knowing which areas interest you the most. Take my case, for example. I didn’t even start my time here at The U as a psychology major! It took me one full year and a three-hour biology lab that was so dull it literally changed the course of my life to finally turn me in the right direction. Some psychology courses held my attention better than others, and trust me some of them were rough to get through, but from that I narrowed down my personal preferences to cognitive and clinical psychology. I do advise keeping in mind not too many students get awarded the job of their dreams simply with a BS in psychology alone, so if you are planning on going further in your education try to have things felt out by junior year so you know which graduate programs will be the best fit for you.

The final step to success is to get curious! I know you most likely have heard the age old and true, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class,” which is important, but I advise you take it much further. Make a conscious effort to take what you learn outside the classroom considering what we study is all around us, all you need to do is look! Start to notice how that episode of The Office you watched last night had Jim classically condition Dwight with Altoid mints, how a conversation with your friends about an exam you just took sounded a lot like Freud’s concept of denial, or how that Beauty and the Beast movie looks alarmingly like Stockholm Syndrome. Furthermore, if you see a fantastic example of something email it to your professor! Show you are engaged in subject matter you are interested in and they might have ideas as to where you can take that career-wise. I have been blessed with amazing opportunities afforded to me not because of what kind of person I was, but because I had a passion in certain areas, a drive to seek involvement with the subject matter and wonderful professors who saw that drive. Make it your mission to take notice of and engage in the world around you and what you will find is concepts you learn around here literally jump straight out of the pages of your psychology books.

As this letter comes to a close, I want to wish you luck with the rest of your college career. Know that I envy you, Incoming Psychology Major, because your journey is just coming to a start and you have a whole world of opportunity before you! Make sure to seize it, and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations you’ve made it! High school is behind you and you’ve now entered a life of independence. Mom and dad aren’t there to tell you what you can and cannot do, to do your laundry, to cook you meals, to help you with your homework, you’re on your own. College can be confusing and independence can be scary and satisfying all at the same time. It’s important to keep your head on straight and not get lost in all of the new emotions that can come along with your brand new college lifestyle. I’m here to tell you that college isn’t always easy, but there are things to keep in mind that will help when embarking on this new chapter in your life.

I started out my college career as a Chemistry major. After my first year and taking the Intro to Psychology course, I realized that Chemistry was not the right path for me. I knew in my gut that changing my major to Psychology was the right change for me and the direction I wanted to take my future. I was afraid to tell my parents and how’d they react to my decision. Because of this fear, I waited until the spring semester of my sophomore year to make the change. It was hard to play catch up on the classes I would’ve taken the three semesters beforehand, but it was worth the hard effort to get to where I am now. So don’t be afraid to follow your instincts and choose whatever you think is the best choice for you. The incredible faculty in the department will help you with anything each step of the way.

Do you know how many different branches of psychology there are? Child, social, industrial, cognitive, and counseling psychology are some, just to name a few. This means that, during your studies, you need to take courses that are broader just to get an idea of these different branches and what they entitle. You might not realize which specialty you’re passionate about until you take a course on the matter. So don’t worry, over your four years you will be exposed to many of them.

You should join a few clubs and then actually show up to them. Clubs are a great way to make new connections with people. During the school’s club fair which is usually held within the first few weeks of school, pick a select few and stick with them. Actually go to the meetings and make an effort to meet new people. Psychology club was one of the best decisions I made. I joined with a friend and made connections with faculty and other students in the major that I never knew before. It opened doors to new experiences that I wouldn’t have been exposed to without taking the initiative to join.  

Most importantly, don’t forget to study. Just because your first semester classes aren’t necessarily difficult, trust me, they will become more difficult. So don’t slack! It’s easy to slack off the first semester and then it is difficult to bring yourself back to where you want your GPA to be. Get yourself in a nice routine and be organized, so you’re prepared and ready for anything.

The best thing that I have done in college is go out of my comfort zone. In high school, you just carry the same friendships with you through all four years because you are always with the same people. That is the beautiful thing about college: You gain new, incredible friendships each year. Without breaking out of your comfort zone, you will not be able to experience the incredible environment that college is. My friend group has changed tremendously over the past four years, but I am only better because of it. The friends I am graduating with are the friends I am going to have for a lifetime.

It’s completely normal to miss home. Because guess what? You aren’t alone. Just because you’re living on your own and having your first taste of independence and adult life, it doesn’t mean you have to act like you’ve got everything under control and that you’ve fully adapted to your new lifestyle and environment. Roommates can give you trouble, but they can be the best support system during stressful points in the semester.   

Your freshman year is the year for adjustment, learning new things, living without your parents, and meeting new friends. Enter college with an open mind and don’t hold on to your high school self. You are going to be extremely nervous for the first week of classes because you don't know anyone, but that's normal. There are so many new things you will learn about yourself in college that you didn't know before. College is full of unforgettable memories; never forget to make them count. Cherish every moment, because the time will fly by faster than you can imagine.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major:

If you are reading this you are about to end the high school chapter of your life and move onto pursuing a degree in psychology. First off, you have selected an excellent school. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the University. A vast majority of the students here are very personable and like to have fun frequently. You can decide how to balance your school work with your social life once you get to campus and get your feet wet. Although, I do have to warn you; being a psych major is not easy. I actually did not decide on being a psych major until the beginning of my junior year. I switched from business and I thought it was going to be much easier. However, not all of the classes are too tough and some are pretty enjoyable. The two psych courses I enjoyed the most were evolutionary psychology and sports psychology.

 I would probably say I learned the most useful material in evolutionary psych compared to any other class I have taken here. It provides many explanations for why we act the way we do in the present and how we have come to adapt to certain changes in the environment. Additionally, I took this class online over intersession and I was still able to obtain a great amount of information. The professor who runs the course posts videos of himself giving lectures and also adds PowerPoint slides to supplement. It was a very well run course in my opinion. While we are on the topic of online courses, I would strongly encourage you to take some online courses from your local community college next summer. You can only take courses from a community college when you are under 60 credits but when you are just starting out your collegiate career they are a great way to lighten your load for the fall and spring semesters by getting some credits out of the way. I would advise you to take a history course or something of that nature online so you can experience your major classes through the University. The class that I took through my community college I put about 6-7 hours into it and that is all. Compared to a class here where you could easily put in 50 hours, that is not a bad tradeoff.

As I mentioned before, I also liked sports psych. I played soccer all four years of my time here so it makes sense that an athlete would like the class. However, even if you do not play sports I still think the class would be fun for you. Personalities psych is also another good class. Now let’s talk about the tough classes. Statistics, for me at least, did not come easy. I came into psych thinking that I would never have to do math again, I was incorrect. It is not too bad but it certainly was challenging. If math is not your strong suit either you may have to put a fair amount of work into that course. Especially with stat, if you do not understand one concept, it will come back and get you on every test. Most other classes you take, you can afford to not fully grasp something, but in stat you really have to be on the ball. Another tough pair of courses is behavioral neuroscience or sensation and perception. You have to take one of the two. I would advise that you go with sensation and perception because it is slightly easier but it is still a very difficult course. There is a lot of biology and memorization involved so if you do not know much about biology then you might have a hard time with this course. You’ll get through it though. I assure you I am not trying to scare you here. I’m just trying to prepare you. Inevitably, with any major, there will be difficult courses that you will have to do well in.

Another nice thing about being a psych major is that we have a class dedicated towards helping you find a career path. Most majors do not do something like that but I think this was a really good idea. I knew what I wanted to do prior to taking the course, but it has helped out many other students. They even have you do a mock interview with someone so when you have an interview for a job or graduate school you will be more prepared than most other people who did not go to our school.

To conclude, you are going to have a good time here. This school is challenging; however, you are going to learn a lot here. The University is a very well respected school nationally and you will be a proud graduate once you have finished up here. You will get through the tough courses I told you about earlier. Lastly, perhaps the greatest compliment I can give this school is that we have a real sense of community here. Everyone gets to know everyone at one time or another. You are about to meet some of your future best friends for life. Be excited and good luck with everything.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

The time you spend at the University of Scranton can be either the best experiences or the worst experiences of your life. In all honesty, it will most certainly be a blend of these two extremes. Fortunately, college is what you make of it; if you want to have a great time, there are countless resources and avenues you can pursue to have fun. It is essential to allocate time for fun and leisure. I recommend joining clubs and spending time forging relationships with others. Personally, I enjoyed intramural sports, conducting research in labs, and walking around socializing with (patronizing) others. You should also engage in routine activities where you can relax and de-stress from all of the pressures in college. Personally, I go to the gym and proceed to pick stuff up and put them down six times a week.

 This will be a time of uncertainty for you and the majority of college students, but it is important to remember that you are not alone in facing this uncertainty and doubt. Freshman year is often thought as a period for adjustment, where students refashion their previous thoughts and behaviors to adapt to a different environment. No one enters college having their life figured out. Rather we use our college experiences to learn more about ourselves and the type of people we wish to become. As such, do not be afraid of making mistakes.

Attempt to get into as many interesting situations as possible without fear of failure, providing you do not get into too much trouble. It is important to strike a balance between putting yourself in new, sometimes strange situations and making the prudent decision. I lean heavily on the interesting “fun” side, and although it has led to some messes, I have few regrets and quite a few amusing anecdotes.

Make as many friends and talk to as many different people as possible; most people at this university are agreeable. Don’t restrict yourself to a single group or associate only with your crowd or you will miss out making friends with people who could potentially be your best friends. From a practical or slightly self-serving view (depending on how you look at it), it is always beneficial to have more friends if you ever need help. The relations you forge at the beginning of college might wane or even disappear completely, but you can always befriend new people.

Delving into academic matters, do not restrict yourself solely to courses that will optimize your chance at graduate school or whatever future endeavor you pursue. If you enjoy art or history, take those classes. Furthermore, those classes could cultivate an interest compelling you to pursue a completely different field. If you do not enjoy your classes and their respective topics, you should reflect over whether that field is for you. Although you should enjoy your subject material, it is just as important to look at job prospects in this field. When looking at jobs you should be thinking about happiness and potential for earnings.

I initially started as a neuroscience major focusing on pre-med due to my parents’ persistence. After realizing I did not want to be a MD, I entertained notions of going into neuropsychology and I/O psychology before landing on quantitative psychology (in my senior year). Firstly, don’t go into a field due to external pressures, because you will be the one unhappily slaving away at your job in the future. Second, changing majors and career aspirations is not a bad thing. Although I optimally would have known my interest for quantitative freshman year, all of my experiences have lead me here eventually.

 You should primarily focus on getting good grades. Luckily, you can still have the best times of your lives while getting 4.0s. Set up some schedule for yourself. As long as you utilize your day time wisely, you can feasibly go out every night. The library and AMH are great places to be productive. I’ve found it helpful to coop myself in either of these areas during the day, thereby freeing myself to do whatever I want at night. It also helps substantially to chunk away at your work on Saturday and Sunday mornings, even in a compromised state.

Start strong in regards to your GPA. Speaking from experience, it is depressing to see your GPA inch up by only .4 or .3 after getting straight A’s. Although I previously stressed the importance of high grades, there is a balance to be struck. I strongly believe students should not kill themselves to get 4.0s. Instead, I think people should just work hard and enjoy the material; good grades will most likely follow. As long as you put in work, you should not stress yourself over grades. Do not intentionally avoid hard professors to maintain a high GPA, if it means passing on an enjoyable class or experience.

I will conclude this by writing some general pieces of advice that benefited me. Rate my professor is a good tool to use when scheduling. Get to know the professors; a lot of them are actually pretty cool. Do not be intimidated by them, most of them want to see you succeed. Clubs and sports provide easy ways to make friends. The (guys) bathroom in second floor LSC is frequently empty. Eat somewhat well, try to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night, and keep your body and liver healthy. Most importantly, you should find a good balance between having fun and doing well.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

First off, I want to congratulate you on your acceptance, and commitment to the University of Scranton. If you are anything like me, this school was not your first choice. After attending a small, all girls, Catholic high school on Long Island I did not expect to find my self at this institution. Four years later, I could not imagine being anywhere else. I can only guess the nerves and excitement you have. I can assure you that every year at Scranton is one of the best years of your life in its own special way. I will explain this with a few lessons that I have learned along the way.

My first lesson would be, school first, fun second. Freshman year is for growing into oneself, making friends, having fun, and of course, studying. When I first came to the school, I studied biology with plans of going to dental school. Unfortunately, I chose to spend more time having fun than studying, and because of this, the door to dental school was closed. There must be a balance or else you will still be making up for those mistakes four years later. Once I realized this, I got back on track and transferred my focus of studying to psychology. I wish I could have started out as a psychology major. If you find yourself in the same boat, do not fret over the idea of changing your major. This is the start of your career, and every year counts, so test out the waters, find out what you are interested in learning about, and most importantly find out what areas you excel in, and pursue it.

When this was figured out I had time to focus on my social life, and my involvement on campus. This brings me to lesson number two. If you have not already been recruited for a varsity sports team, join a club, or intramural sports team! Freshman year you might have the mentality to only do what your friends want to do, but I did the opposite. In high school I was on the dance team and I knew I did not want to stop there. Freshman year I tried out, and joined the one of the dance teams, Urban Beats Crew, and I absolutely loved it. Not only did I get to continue my love for dancing, but I also joined a group of people that became my family. I met various men and women, some of which became my closest friends. I continued my years on this team, and my senior year became its vice president. If dancing is not your area of expertise, the University of Scranton has around 100 clubs, and or sport teams you could join that can fit your interests.

Sophomore year is an odd year because you have accustomed yourself to the school, you have your group of friends, and you are not yet considered an upper classman. Based off of my experiences, lesson number three would be to continue to focus on growing into yourself, and expanding your horizons. Sometimes you may grow apart from the friends you made freshman year, and some instances you become closer, and other times you realize you cannot balance your time spent between sports and studying. Continuing to make changes to your experiences can only help you for the better. For example, as a psychology major balance out the classes you take each semester so that you are not overly stressed out, and save the more writing intensive courses for when you foresee your schedule becoming light.  

Junior year is exciting because you are now an upperclassman, you have the option to live off campus, and you are well into your field of expertise. My fourth lesson for you would be to have fun, but stay focused. Most people forget the real reason we came here was to go to school, and everything else just comes along with the package. If you end up moving into a house off campus, like me, do not get distracted because I am sure you have worked too hard to throw it all away now. This would be a good time to start taking your graduate entrance exams, and looking at schools for your masters, and or PHD as well. If it is all under control, have a blast! Go to sports games because it is another great way to get involved on campus. Befriend your neighbors, and the people on sports teams because some of them are the best people you will meet.

Last, but not least you are left with senior year. Everything this year becomes your last. Your last late night, your last first day of classes, your last time driving back to school from break, your last time going out with your friends, and or your last sports game or performance. My last lesson would be to make everything count. I know you want to go out, but make that one little written homework assignment count. If you have the time, don’t stay home, go out with your friends. It will also be the last time you can say hi to that cute guy or girl that you are interested in. This lesson could carry throughout your four years here because you don’t want to have regrets come the day you are walking up the stage to get your diploma.

With all that being said, you will make mistakes, and may have your own regrets, but older generations were not lying when they said these are the best four years of your life, so make them count. You will potentially meet your groomsmen and bridesmaids, or get lucky and find your soul mate. I wish you luck with whatever you choose to do, your experiences you embark on and the people you choose to meet. Get ready to start your footprints in the sand here at the University of Scranton; it’s going to be a wild ride.

P.s. call your mom here and there because she misses you. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

First off, congratulations! You might have been congratulated prior to this on multiple occasions. However, here you are in the university that you chose, after walking miles on various campus tours and filling out paperwork. As you are reading this, you may be thinking about the upcoming four (more or less depending on how you go about) long undergraduate years. Remember leaving elementary or middle school? That was not too long ago, was it? Get ready for these years to fly. Before you know it, your CAPP sheet will be filled with all the courses you have taken.

As you probably know from school, there are teachers with various teaching styles. Same goes with university. There are professors who love to lecture and do not interact with the students. On the other end of the spectrum, there are professors whose classes are based on student discussion with a taste of the professor’s lecture. Of course, there are professors in between with a healthy balance of lecturing and student discussions. Final exams do not have a purpose for some professors, which is great. Unless you’re a few points away from an A-. If you have questions about a certain class, do not feel intimidated by the professor. Use their office hours if you are available during those times. They are the ones who taught the material, most of them will be more than happy to assist you. Your second resource can be your peers or the TA (teaching assistant), if the office hours do not fit your schedule, or the professor did not clear your doubt.

On your CAPP sheet, you will see there are ten general elective spaces. Use them wisely, at the same time, explore the courses. Challenge yourself to take the courses you are not interested in; professors can change your perspective on the subject. Either with their enthusiasm, or the method of teaching they use. If the upcoming semester is tough one, add a course you know looks like an easy A or one that you will enjoy.

If you are a resident, take advantage of the activities and programs on campus. Any free events that will allow to release some stress is helpful for channeling the stressful energy. Also, it all comes with your tuition. Want friends other than your roommates and people in your class? Our university has clubs and organizations of almost every topic and subject imaginable. Astronomy Club was one of my favorites because of the star-gazing and friendly space nerds.

As a commuter, I do understand how tough it is to stay involved with the campus. When you make your own schedule, have at least an hour between class, or do not leave the campus right after your last class ends (unless it is an evening class). This way you can use the free time for a nap, to socialize with people, or to get work done. As a psychology major, the best place to meet other people is the computer lab and seminar room. Those two rooms are great study spots with computers, too. Most of the time there will be a student in there doing his/her work. Other times it will be empty.

Whether you are a resident or commuter, leave at least 15 minutes before the typical time it takes to travel to class. Sometimes there is a crowd of people walking slow in front of you and the only way to get past them is to go on the road, which would result in getting hit by a car. Construction and traffic are usual roadblocks in this area. Leaving early will allow you have enough time to be stuck in that traffic while arriving class on time. However, for the rare times that you are late, it is useful to take a phone number of a person in your class. It is useful to become friendly with at least one person in each class.

Opportunity knocks only once. You never know if you will get another one. In university, opportunity is called Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, or anything that is worthy of adding to your curriculum vitae and resume. There will be times where your work is outstanding and the professor will have you in the back of their mind. Then when they need an assistant, they will contact you. However, sometimes you need to be assertive, get out there, and look for them. When you find something, you think you can do, ask if you can be a part of it. You are now in university; this is the time to start being your own boss. Take charge of your responsibilities. Good luck with your undergraduate years and as St. Ignatius once said, “Go forth and set the world on fire.”

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I am writing you this letter as part of one of my last assignments as a Psychology major at the University of Scranton. After being a part of this university for four years I have learned many life lessons I will be taking with me when I leave. In this letter I am going to provide you with my experience and a few pieces of advice I wish I knew when I started to pursue my Psychology degree.  I am confident you will learn to love this major and everything that goes with it before you leave this university.

The first piece of advice I would like to give is I cannot stress how important it is to get involved on campus and especially be involved in your major. You may not realize it now, but from the minute you start to the minute you leave there will always be an opportunity to get involved. Try joining clubs you like and find interesting, psychology club is a good example. Try to make sure that you are on top of the requirements and classes you will need to take the next four years in order to get your degree, believe me there is a reason everyone harps on this. Do yourself a favor and get ahead of the game. One thing I wish I knew coming in as a freshman psychology major was I was not aware of the things I should have been doing to prepare myself properly to be ready for graduate school. I did not take my career seminar class until junior year and without it I would have not have prepared myself to look like a good candidate to pursue graduate studies or a job in the field. If you can get a head start with: research, having teaching experiences, working on your resume, cv, and thinking about what you would like to do when you graduate. This will make your time here a lot easier and you will not be as overwhelmed at the end like I was.

The next piece of advice I would like to give you is do not stress one bad grade. The truth of the mater here is none of us are good at everything. You will soon realize that your time here is going to be full of success and failure which will both help to shape you into the psychology major you will want to be. You may have; forgotten to study, crammed last minute, or even blanked out on the exam. Whatever the reason is, don’t beat yourself up about it. Take it as a hard lesson that motivates you to push to do better the next time. The only time you fail is when you don’t learn from your mistakes. Getting overwhelmed about one bad grade can easily overwhelm you and make it harder. Always move forward.

Another piece of advice I would like to share with you is do not listen to others when they ask you what your major is. You may run into a lot of people at this school that have a list of majors they believe are hard and others that they view as cake. Do not listen to this.  Psychology may not be engineering, but do not tell let people tell you are majoring in something that’s not difficult. College is never supposed become “who can major in the hardest subject?”.  Individuals should want to major in the subject that interests them and go with whatever future career path they think they can succeed in.

You will learn that everything you need to know are not always found in books. Most of what I have learned, I learned outside the classroom. Go out of your comfort zones and experience Psychology in your life. Just be careful not to psychologize everything. At one point, you will have to relearn everything. Because you will learn that what you learned in college is not what it is in real life, as a results you have to unlearn things. One concrete example was when DSM-5 came out; we have to forget everything we knew from DSM-IV-TR. This is also true when you start your internship or start your work. Psychology is so complex and broad that every day is a new time to learn. You will soon find out that as much as you try, there are things that can never be learned. Be open.

My experience at this institution as a Psychology major is one I will never forget. I had countless opportunities to be a part of such a special community. I was able find faculty that like to do the same research as I did. I also learned that you should never be afraid to utilize other supports and majors outside the department to help you if the psychology department does not have ongoing research that aligns with what you want to research. I was a psychology and criminal justice major so I had two faculty members whose research I was interested in and with their help I was able to do a blended independent study and combine them both. I ought various teaching experiences that made me feel more connected to faculty and helped me tremendously when it came time for recommendation letters.  I made friendships that will last a lifetime, some were psychology majors and some were not, but they are all amazing friends who each have something to offer to help you navigate through your four years here.

Overall, I believe that your time at the University of Scranton will be some of the best years of your life. My last piece of advice for you is to take everything one step at a time and enjoy the ride. It will definitely be one that you will never forget.  I honestly believe that I could not have made a better choice when I decided to attend this institution and I believe truly believe you will be thinking the same thing four years from now.

Good luck with everything,

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(#16)

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your recent graduation and being accepted into the University of Scranton’s Psychology program! You have chosen a great major at a great school. I know you are thinking four years is a long way away, but believe me, it will go faster than you think. Be prepared to study a lot! College is not easy, and neither is this major. One tip I will offer you is to create a small group of people you know and get along with in class to help you study and stay motivated. Meet once a week and talk about the topics covered in class and concepts you may not have understood. Studying with a group makes studying for tests much easier and less stressful.

I do not have many regrets about my time spent here at the University, but I do have a few. One thing I wish I did was get more involved on campus. I joined a varsity sport team and one club. My advice to you is to get involved with as much as you can. Want to join a sports team? Try out. I was a walk-on to the swim team my freshman year and I was nervous about finding a balance between school and swimming. The coaches here understand that you are here for an education and are willing to work with you to make sure you can participate in the sport you love and still get the education you are paying for. You can also join the psychology club and any other club that interests you. The clubs do a lot of neat things on campus and are involved with different service projects throughout the year. When you are involved with activities and clubs on campus, you can usually get free t-shirts and other limited edition Scranton apparel. Also, take advantage of the retreats campus ministries offers throughout the year. I have heard they are fun and a great stress reliver from all the work you will be doing. Many people I know that went on retreats said they were wonderful and they made a lot of new friends.

Another thing I wish I took advantage of during my time here was the option to do research with a faculty member. Participating in research is a good way to get to know other students and faculty in the field. It will also give you an idea of what research is like without having all the responsibility. Working with a faculty member can open many doors for your career. The faculty here have great connections all over the country that can help you when you are applying for graduate school and for jobs. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions and go to office hours. The professors here are all wonderful. They will do everything they can to help you succeed, not only in your psychology classes, but your other classes as well. Professors love when students come to their office and it will make it known that you care about their class and want to do well. Professors are not only available to discuss class topics, but they are also there to help and guide you through your college career.

The last bit of advice I will leave you with is to enjoy every second you spend here at the University of Scranton. When I said, college will go by faster than you think, I meant it. I remember when I was sitting where you are now like it was yesterday, but it was four years ago. I would love to go back in time and sit in that seat once again, but greater opportunities await me. You are in control of what your next four years will be, so take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, take risks, study hard, and believe in yourself.

I wish you the best of luck,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

People always seem to tell college freshman how quickly four years go by and they don’t believe it. They think 4 years that’s a long time! Even though on a calendar it looks like a long time and occasionally time may move slowly, it goes by a little too quickly. It boggles my mind when I think of how fast it went, not because I am not ready for the next chapter of my life but because I am trying to make sense of it.  I am trying figure out how on Earth my time here went by so fast. Don’t wish it away, savor it and enjoy it.

Your time here will be full of ups and downs, highpoints and low points, tears and laughs, frustration and accomplishment but just know it’s all worth it in the end. You’ll change, grow, and learn so much about yourself its almost scary.  Don’t be afraid those experiences that you are faced with, regardless if they are good or bad, you’ll learn something, trust me..

Being that you enter college practically knowing nobody, you will make friends and make them fast. At the end of the day, at least for me, it was helpful to be reminded that you shouldn’t let anyone else hold you back. If you want to do something, go ahead and go for it! Your experience here should be fun so don’t let others hinder that. If you want to apply to a rigorous program or internship, don’t let others convince you that it’s a bad idea. If you want to go out and have a good time, go. You are the most important person in your life right now, you might as well make yourself happy.

Don’t be afraid to change curriculums. If you are studying something that you really don’t like, aren’t interested in, or aren’t passionate about, then changing your major could be the way to go. There is something for everyone. Don’t stay in major that you hate, that you’re not good at or anything like that because of your parents or friends. It’s important for you to love what you learn, otherwise, it could harm your fulfillment, joy of learning and even preparation for your future career. And, don’t be opposed to picking up a minor and or a concentration.

Another thing that incoming students are either afraid to use or forget about is all the resources we have here from the writing center, advising, CTLE, career services, and even the counseling center. Don’t be afraid to utilize these resources. These are all great places to stop by if you’re struggling or even receive some extra guidance and support. Making sure you’re heading in the right direction is never a bad thing.

One way to head in the right direction is by taking advantage of your professor’s office hours. It seems rather intimidating to go to a professor’s office when its something that you have never done before, but trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll make here. Going for extra help, to make sure you understand everything correctly, just to chat, for some guidance, or anything in-between is never a bad idea. You can develop a relationship with that professor and then as they learn more about you as a student and as an individual you can benefit from their mentoring and guidance

Now, you might be wondering where all of this insight came from. Trust me I didn’t out just pull it out of thin air, I lived it. I remember when I was in your shoes. I remember the day I came for an open house and realized that this is my perfect it. I remember receiving my acceptance letter and paying my deposit, when I received my royal card in the mail, when I came for orientation, and of course move in day. I remember calling my mom balling hysterically mid- October because I wanted to come home. I remember meeting all these new people and making a million and one memories. You see, I have been there and I am living proof that you can get thought it.  done it. You can too. Any time you need a little push know that you can do it and all is it takes is perseverance, effort, and a smile.

Sincerely,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome to the U and to the Psychology Department. I hope you are ready for the next four memorable years of your life. I was a psychology major all fours years of my undergraduate career and I loved every minute of it. I won’t lie, it will get tough. Every course and professor will require you to give your all and have you push your limits but you can do this. They pushed me to do things I never knew I was capable of accomplishing. If you told me my freshman year that I would conduct my own research experiment from start to finish I would say you are absolutely insane but I did it. I still can’t believe that I actually completed my own research.

I loved almost every course I took here. A few of the courses I didn’t like were based on the professor but that experience may be different for you and you may love the course and the teacher. It is all subjective but go into each class with an open mind. However, if you hear a collective opinion about specific professors then proceed with caution. Also, don’t just pick a class because you have heard the teacher is nice but the class is ridiculously difficult. Just because a professor is nice doesn’t mean they will be of more assistance to you or help you do well in the course. It will still be a difficult class no matter how nice the teacher is. Also, be prepared for the work load. It may not seem like a lot but trust me, it is. Learn to manage your time, get ahead of readings and work, and you will be fine.

Be on top of your scheduling and plan ahead for the four years. This sounds like a lot of work but trust me it is worth it. Your first year at the U you will be with general CAS advisors and they are not helpful at all. I took a basic art class for my general education requirement and after I took it the department told me that it didn’t count for anything so I had wasted three credits that I could have used towards a class that would have actually counted. After that mess and after having been removed from other courses that I “didn’t need”, but I actually did need them, I went to one of the psychology professors that became my advisor and she helped me out so much. She sat with me and thoroughly went through and made my schedule for the remaining three years of my undergraduate career. Thanks to her I had those last three years fully laid out and when registrations came around I was super prepared and was only stressed to make sure I got my first choice courses. Do not just blindly believe what CAS advising tells you. Double check everything and after that go to a psychology professor and ask them for their help or opinion. I wish I knew this sooner because I wouldn’t have wasted my freshman and part of my sophomore year with classes that weren’t counting for anything.

As for your time outside of the Psychology Department enjoy it and embrace it. Go to as many events and activities on campus as you can. Don’t hole up in your room all the time. Go to USPB events with floor mates, go downtown to grab dinner or coffee, or relax on the multiple campus greens. The friends you make freshman year aren’t necessarily the friends you will still have when you graduate but cherish the fun moments you have with them because those moments will help you grow into the person you are supposed to be. Step outside of your comfort zone. Try new foods, listen to new music, and join intermural sports. Keep pursuing your hobbies but find new ones. Also, I recommend visiting NayAug all year around, especially around Christmas when they have a lights display. Basically, just go out and explore! Scranton is your oyster for the next four years! Make your mark on this campus!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on choosing to study psychology at The University of Scranton! To start off I would like to share a bit about my own experience as a freshman in the psychology department. At the time I was not sure what I wanted to do with my degree in psychology other than that I wanted to help people. More specifically I wanted to learn about how the human mind works and how we can study human behavior. Whether or not you share the same thoughts about psychology as me I hope I can offer some advice on how to make the most of your own experience as a psychology major at Scranton.

            As a freshman I was pretty oblivious to the amount of opportunities the department had to offer. So that you do not miss out like I did I recommend you get involved in the department as soon as possible. The psychology department has two clubs that I strongly encourage you to join. The psychology club hosts different social events in the department and it is a great chance to meet other psychology majors you may not see in class. There is also APSSC, which is a club that focuses on psychological research. Every year they host Research Day, which gives students the chance to present their research to other students. This is also an awesome event to attend if you are thinking of joining a research lab. I think joining these two clubs are the first steps you should take and they require little time commitment. During your junior and senior year you will also have the opportunity to apply to Psi Chi, which is the honor society in psychology. Being inducted into Psi Chi is another great accomplishment to add to your resume and you will also receive chords to wear at graduation.

            You may or may not be interested in psychological research but if you are considering applying to graduate school in psychology I strongly recommend you seek research opportunities sooner than later. The professors in the department all have their own research interests and many of them recruit students to assist them with their research. You may be asked to join a professor’s research lab if you perform well in his or her course, but you may also apply for research positions by asking professors if they are recruiting students to join their labs. If you want to find out more about a professor’s research do not hesitate to meet with him or her during office hours or check out his or her information on the school’s website. Again, I encourage you to get involved sooner than later because it will be a tremendous help during your junior and senior year when you apply for jobs or graduate school.

            Many professors in the department will also offer the opportunity to be a teaching assistant. They may ask you to assist them if you performed well in their class or if you particularly enjoyed their class you can ask them if they are looking for an assistant for the upcoming semester. Having the opportunity to be a teaching assistant as an undergraduate is pretty unique. Not only is it another great addition for your resume but it also helps reinforce what you learned in class and allows you to build professional relationships with professors. You never know when you might need to ask for a good letter of recommendation!

            There is much more I could say about what makes the department so great, but I will close my letter with some final words of advice. I encourage you to immerse yourself in the opportunities available to you but remember to go at a pace that works for you. Do not hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure about something because the professors are there to help. As much as they love sharing their interests with you keep in mind they want to help you pursue your own interests as well. Do not be shy because they were once a student too and they have great wisdom to offer. Lastly, if you are uncertain about what you want to do in psychology or if psychology is the right field for you do not fret. Most people do not have their future figured out during their freshman year of college and it takes time to explore your interests. Follow your interests and try new experiences because you never know where they may lead you.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance, and welcome to the University of Scranton! These next four years are going to be some of the best years of your life. Although that may seem like a cliché, I can tell you from experience that it will be. My father has always told be how time flies, and these past four years have gone by even faster than I imagined. Coming into freshman year I was set on being a psychology major. After taking a course in high school, I became fascinated with the concept of studying humans and their minds and behaviors. Although it was tough at times, I am still thankful and satisfied with my decision on choosing psychology as my field of study.

            As a psychology major, you will have a variety of opportunities to study different sub-fields. I would recommend taking all types of classes whether it focuses on neuropsychology, abnormal psychology, social psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, clinical psychology, etc. Do not limit yourself to classes you believe will be easy or an easy A. If I did not take the opportunity to explore and take different courses, I would not have found my passion for clinical psychology. I know I wanted to study psychology, however I had no idea what I could do or what I wanted to do with a psychology degree. Taking these various courses allowed me to decide what I wanted to do for my future.

            Another great opportunity is teaching and research assistantships. I unfortunately was not either one, which is one of my greatest regrets. It gives you experience by allowing you to apply what you have learned. Do not be afraid to approach professors and ask them to be their TA or RA. I was too scared and lost my opportunity to have this great experience. The professors are the best and value your help and interests in their research labs. I did however apply to do field experience, which requires prerequisites. Each student is given a placement that provides him or her with experience in a clinical setting. I was lucky enough to work with Northwestern Human Services at a middle school. Here, I led group therapies under supervision and wrote progress notes for 9 behaviorally disturbed children. Through my internship, I developed professional skills and formed amazing relationships with my patients. I learned about the realities of mental illnesses and the effect they have on children’s everyday lives. These experiences are beneficial for graduate school if you plan on attending. I advise you to take advantage of the opportunities provided to you.

            Aside from academics, enjoy yourself. A professor once told me not to stress because the work will always get done. Schoolwork should take priority, but do not forget to have fun. It is college, you know you will leave here with a degree, but you will also be leaving with memories and friends that will last a lifetime. I encourage you to make the most of your college experience here at the University of Scranton. As I sit here, I cannot help but smile reliving and remembering all the times spent in Alumni Memorial Hall, in the DeNaples Center with friends, on the Dionne Green when it is finally warm out, and even off-campus where I have lived the past two years.

            Lastly study hard, sleep, go to class, relax, learn from your mistakes, and have fun! I know being away from home is hard, but sooner or later Scranton will be your home away from home. I am beyond grateful for being a Royal (soon to be alumni), and know you will be too. I am jealous that you are just beginning your journey here, while I will be ending mine. I hope my advice is insightful and I hope you enjoy these next four years as much as I did. Like my fellow classmates say, “it’s always a great day to be a royal”.

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(#21)

 Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I would like to begin this letter by congratulating you on choosing the University of Scranton! The reason I am writing this letter to you is to offer some advice for your next four years. I hope some of this information deems helpful to you.

My first piece of advice is to put 110% effort in each class you take here. This school’s psychology program is arranged in a very specific way; we must take a wide range of psychology courses to earn fulfill our graduation requirements. The set up is appealing to graduate schools because your education in psychology will be well rounded by the end of your time here, and your grades should reflect that. Even if you decide to switch to a different major or develop a different career goal, this advice will still be relevant. For example, I used to be a biology major and switched to psychology. I recently decided that I wanted to attend an accelerated nursing program after graduation, and the prerequisites for these programs include chemistry. Unfortunately, as a biology major, I did not do well in chemistry because I despised the subject. As a result, I have to retake it at a community college so that my grade in chemistry is not an outlier compared to my other prerequisite grades. I regret not pushing through chemistry, so I hope you learn from my mistake and make sure to dedicate time to learning each subject, because you never know when you are going to need it.

I encourage you to find clubs and programs that pertain to you hobbies. Psych club is a great way to interact with other psychology majors, but if you have alternative interests, such as theater, singing, or gaming, then I strongly recommend becoming involved with those clubs/programs. The hobby I chose to invest in was theater, and although it was a demanding time commitment, I learned how to manage my time effectively. Believe it or not, my grades actually improved after joining theater, but besides the potential academic boost, joining clubs of interest is also a great way to meet and befriend people outside the psychology major. College, in general, is the perfect time to form friendships and connect with so many interesting people, so take advantage of it!

I know, for many people, college marks the beginning of independence. This newfound freedom is exciting, but it is so important to set boundaries and rules for yourself. Unfortunately, many first year students become too infatuated with their independence, which can result in a significant drop in their grades. Some common qualities that I have noticed in these kinds of students are having a tendency to spend more time watching Netflix than studying, prioritizing partying, skipping a lot of classes, and just not keeping up with schoolwork. I was this student during my first year, and it was incredibly difficult to raise my GPA after that, so please make sure school is always your priority. You should make sure to spend time enjoying yourself, but do not abandon your schoolwork. The best way to be successful is to manage your time early on in your college career. This can be done by setting up detailed schedules of how you will spend each day (for example, 9-9:50 class, 10-12pm make an outline for first exam in Introduction to Psychology class, 12pm eat lunch, etc.) at the beginning of each week, or by being involved in an activity with a time commitment to force you to plan ahead.

Lastly, cherish your time here! These last four years have flown by, and I am in complete shock that I will graduating in a matter of weeks. I recommend spending a lot of your time on campus, even if you happen to be a commuter. Spending time here will let you establish connections with other students and professors, and lets you make use of what this school has to offer. For example, attend some of the events provided by the school, such as the Rooftop Carnival in the spring, the shows put on both theater companies on campus, movie nights, and guest speakers from fields of your interests. You may learn something, spark a new interest, and/or meet more students by attending the events provided. Try not to look past these events!

 I truly hope that you found some points of this letter beneficial, but, more importantly, I hope that you come to call the University of Scranton your home. This is such as special place, and I hope you come to believe that.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I hope you are excited to attend the University of Scranton as a psychology major. The opportunities that the psychology department offers are endless. Whether you know what you want to do in the field of psychology or not sure what you want to do for a career, the major provides transferrable skills for all fields. My experience as a psychology major has been enriching, challenging, fun and unique. Since the department is small, there are a lot of ways to be involved and to get valuable experience on your resume. I was lucky to participate in many of the opportunities that the department has to offer. In the psychology department, you can get experience being a research assistant, teaching assistant, club officer, club member, psi chi member and more. You can also gain internship experience in the community with the psychology department. For leadership positions, you must work hard in your classes and earn the positions. Being actively involved in the department helped me form beneficial relationships with students and faculty. I enjoyed my time as a psychology major and I hope you do as well. 

Being a psychology major is challenging and rewarding. If you want to do well, you need to put in the time and effort. If you are thinking of going to graduate school in psychology, I highly recommend you start thinking about research now. As a freshman, I never thought I would do anything with research. You are probably reading this thinking the same. However, by the end of my senior year, I have been a research assistant to three faculty and developed my own honors thesis. I am no longer pursuing a doctorate, but I still value the research experiences. If you like psychology, it is important to appreciate research. 

I recommend personalizing your psychology course load. The requisites are required, but you can cater psychology electives towards your interests. If you are interested in clinical psychology, which many incoming undergraduates are, you would want to take psychology electives such as psychological testing, abnormal psychology and clinical psychology. These electives are required in order to take field experience in clinical psychology. I highly recommend you take applied field experience or clinical field experience and apply what you learn in the classroom to a real world setting. Internships are valuable because they can help you decide if a career in psychology is something you want to continue pursuing. Since psychology requires a lot of work and extra schooling, it is important that you love what you do. You do not want to waste money or time if it is not a subject you enjoy.

As I finish my time as a psychology major, I do not have many regrets. I developed close friendships with my psychology major peers and professional relationships with my professors. I was involved in many activities that helped me build my skill set for a career. One regret I have is that there were times that I overworked myself and did too many activities. I recommend sticking to two or three activities that you are passionate about and focusing on those instead of six or seven. When you start to do too many activities, you don’t put as much effort into them as you would like. More importantly, while you want to work to the best of your ability, it is important to take care of yourself. In all, being a psychology major is rewarding and can lead to many different career opportunities. I hope you learn as much as I have over the past four years.

Best,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton Psychology Department! I do not know whether Scranton was your first or last choice of colleges, but I know that regardless, you are incredibly fortunate to be here. You cannot imagine right now all of the opportunities that will come your way over the next four years. This university and this department are full of faculty, staff, and students who want to help you learn and grow. However, they can only help you if you do your part. Therefore, I offer you some advice to make the most of your experience here.

            First, work hard. The only way to get something out of your education is by putting time and effort into it. Some professors will ask a lot from you, and it may feel like a burden at times. Most of the time, they do that because they believe in your potential and want to stretch you to do your best work and be your best self. High standards are not a bad thing, and you might just end up adopting them yourself.

            Second, and perhaps most importantly, get involved. I took some excellent courses in this department, but they cannot compare with the experiences I had working with and getting to know professors outside of class. Most of them genuinely want you to come to their office hours if you have questions about what you learn in class. Even if you understand all of the class material but it interests you and you want to know more, talk to them about that. There is nothing like discussing your interests and passions with someone who cares about them too and who has a plethora of knowledge and experience to share. It is validating and inspiring to ask obscure questions about the corner of psychology that fascinates you most and hear a professor respond, “Good question! The literature suggests . . .” or “Research is needed in that area and maybe someday you can conduct it.” I found that these types of discussions happened particularly naturally when I served as a teaching assistant and research assistant.

            Next, express gratitude. Your professors are doing their job by teaching you, but many go far beyond what is required because they care about you and your learning. I know that some spent a portion of every weekend in their offices. The department secretary does so much behind the scenes that makes things run smoothly and never crosses our minds. I wish I made more of a consistent and explicit effort to tell everyone how much I learned from them and how much I appreciate them. Three weeks before graduation, this comes to mind because I am now realizing that I will miss these people. You need not wait that long to show your gratitude.

            Lastly, enjoy yourself. I probably focused too much on the “work hard” advice and not enough on this part. In spite of that, I have precious memories from Scranton in general and the psych department. I got to know one of my close friends through a long and arduous group project. Although we resented the project at the time, I am thankful for it because I might not have met her otherwise. The Psychology Club Christmas tree-decorating event is a heartwarming tradition that I recommend. Also, the green outside of Alumni Memorial Hall is an underrated part of campus. It is quiet and peaceful, the trees are beautiful (especially in springtime), and I frequently see bunnies. I love sitting on those benches to study, eat, or take a rare moment to rest in pleasant weather when I have a break in between classes, meetings, etc. I hope that you take more moments like that than I did to be present and enjoy.

            In conclusion, an exciting journey lies ahead of you. This is my advice based on my experience, but take it with a grain of salt because you will make these four years your own.

I wish you all the best, and I hope that you learn as much as I did and more!

Sincerely,

Graduating Psychology Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton!  I know that choosing a college and a major can be extremely anxiety provoking, so I want to reassure you – you made an excellent choice.  My experiences in the Psychology Department shaped my life immeasurably.  Four years later, I know I am graduating with a comprehensive knowledge base, an extensive curriculum vitae, and a bright future.

            During my four years as a psychology major, I took advantage of every possible opportunity.  And within the Psychology Department, there are many opportunities to take advantage of.  The flexible academic program is one.  I was able to individualize my education, even adding a second major.  When I enrolled in this program, I had vague future goals.  I knew I wanted to work with children, but I didn’t know in what manner.  So, I explored my options.  I took a wide variety of classes until I realized my future path.  Then, I tailored my education to meet my personal interests and goals.  The Psychology Department’s opportunities are not confined to the classroom, though.  My academic dedication opened doors for me.  I developed relationships with my teachers, who continuously led me to knew experiences.  Participating in the Faculty/Student Mentorship Program, I served as a teaching assistant for a variety of classes.  I also partook in the advanced teaching seminar where I furthered my educational skills.  Additionally, I completed the Faculty/Student Research Program.  As an undergraduate research assistant, I helped implement a semester-long research project.  The results were published in a well-established academic journal where I was listed as a co-author.  I even traveled to Dublin, Ireland, where I presented at an international conference.  Through these experiences, I established myself within the Psychology Department.  I was inducted to Psi Chi, the psychological honor society, and eventually became the treasurer.  These experiences truly shaped, not only, my education but my overall college career. 

            As an incoming psychology major, I strongly encourage you to follow in my footsteps.  Take advantage of every opportunity!  The Psychology Department becomes what you make of it.  So, work hard and don’t let an opportunity pass you by.  As nerve racking as it might be, introduce yourself to your teachers on the first day of class.  Attend their office hours and begin developing a relationship with them – remember that office hours are not only for questions or problems with class.  Your teachers will be your biggest supporters.  They will also be your harshest critiques, but that combination pushes you to success.  During my experiences, I got to know my faculty mentors.  However, I often choose to take their classes because they were familiar to me.  I didn’t expand my interactions to other professors.  I didn’t challenge myself to develop new mentor relationships, something I truly regret.  I do challenge you, though, to learn from my regrets.  Try to meet and take a class by every faculty member.  Additionally, take a wide variety of classes.  Psychology is a broad field with many areas of interest.  Explore them all.  Open your mind to new topics because they may surprise you and spark an unknown passion.  Finally, remember that college is not confined to the Psychology Department.  Get involved in the broader campus community, both academically and recreationally.  Take advantage of everything The University of Scranton has to offer.

            My experiences in the Psychology Department shaped my life immensely and I truly hope that the next four years will do the same for you.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Why did you declare psychology as your major? Do you want to use psychology to help people in the future? Do you find thinking and behavior fascinating? If you are like me, you answered yes to both. I do not know any senior psychology majors that would not answer in the affirmative to both questions. If you answered no or are unsure about the answers to those questions, do not worry. The psychology classes you take at the University may guide you to the answer. If you find that you do not want to pursue psychology anymore, do not stress out. I would be surprised if you have not heard this several times already, but people change majors frequently, and the University faculty do what they can to help you in that transition.

            I started my first year of college wanting to become a practicing psychologist. If you are more unsure than I was about how you want to use your knowledge of psychology, the structure of the major is designed to help you with that. The introductory course gives an overview of different ideas and subfields and the requirements force some variety on you. I had already taken an introductory psychology course in high school, so I used the introductory course at the University get an idea of what classes I wanted to take and what would be useful for me to learn to become a practicing psychologist. That being said, you should still be prepared to take classes you do not like and may even find abhorrent. I know it sounds bad but that is the nature of college and life in general. If you thought you were going to achieve your dreams without any turmoil, get your head out of Disneyland. If you do not want to get your head out of Disneyland, go get a job there. Really, my friend's aunt works there and she seems extremely happy.

            There are some other aspects of the psychology major at the University I think you should be aware of. First, unless there is some construction or location change most of your psychology classes will be in Alumni Memorial Hall. Be prepared for cramped classrooms, slow computers, and a moody printer. What do I mean by moody? It will print your paper...sometimes, and it will always leave ink scuff marks. The prints are free though so it might be worth it. The majority of psychology majors dislike statistics and research methods. Different people prepare for these classes differently. I took the warning about these classes as a challenge to motivate myself and took credit heavy semesters when I took those classes. I did well. As with any department, you will get along better with some professors than others. I handled this by taking classes with familiar professors when I could. I regret not taking classes with different professors, however, because I think I have missed out on some interesting connections and lessons. The last warning I will give you is that you will be tempted to diagnosis yourself and your friends. This is common and fun, but do not get ahead of yourself. You are a first year undergraduate student so do not take your guesses seriously. To be fair, you hardly know what you are talking about. Wait until sophomore year. Then you will be a professional.

            As I said, I wanted to go into practice since my first year. By the end of my sophomore year, I thought something was missing in my learning to become a practicing psychologist. I spoke to my advisor and she suggested I take on a human services. The human services minor (which I think should be called a counseling
minor) was to supplement my knowledge of theory and research from my psychology courses with courses focused on implementing that theory and research with clients. That was one of the most influential decisions I have made in my college career. I will not go into depth about why or how the courses changed me, but I am now pursuing my masters in counseling to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. This leads me to my last bit of advice. Do not let yourself get stuck. Try and find joy in as many courses as you can in and outside of psychology. Use college as an opportunity to develop all parts of yourself, because you may find that your learning in classes and experiences outside of psychology will enhance your psychology work and vice versa. I found that as each part of my life evolved, the rest followed.

            I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a psychology major and can hardly imagine my college career in any other major. You may or may not end up thinking the same way in four years and that is neither a good nor bad thing. It is simply a you thing. I hope that your experiences  in psychology, whether short lived or lifelong, help you develop into a happy, successful individual.

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  Dear incoming psychology major,

My experience here at the U as a psychology major has been quite a ride.  I've had some great opportunities here.  As a freshman coming in, I thought that psychology was an interesting subject that I could see myself working in later in life.  This is still true to this day.  I do not regret the major I picked at all.  I took other electives and general education classes, but psychology courses were my favorite.  I am guessing you agree seeing as you are a psychology major.

The staff in the psychology department are amazing. The small class sizes allowed for yout to get to know your professors.  This is one of the regrets I have.  I was too shy and didn’t really approach professors or go to their office hours even if I had a question or was genuinely interested in something they talked about in class.  If I had gotten to know professor’s earlier, I think I would have enjoyed the major more and would have had more opportunities.  In addition to the professors, the administrative assistant is extremely helpful.  She would probably know the answer to any of your questions.  She was on top of everything and was always willing to help students.  She was highly approachable and chatting with her was always nice.

One piece of advice would be to get into research earlier than you think.  If a certain class or a certain topic sparks your interest, ask professors questions.  Look into what the professors’ specialty or focus is and find the professor whose focus aligns with your interests.  Going along with this, I cannot stress this enough: TALK TO YOUR ADVISOR! They are an advisor for a reason. 

In the psychology department, your advisor was one of the professors. I definitely did not do this as much as I should have, but sitting down and talking about your plans or what you would like to do is beneficial because you get a second voice that tells you what you need to do in order to achieve these goals.  And the more they get to know you, the easier it will be for them to tell you if your plan is realistic or guide you in a certain direction that maybe you didn’t think about before.  I know that it can seem intimidating approaching a professor as a freshman or maybe you think you already have your plan laid out, but it will not hurt to talk to your advisor, I promise!  I also want to add that just because you have one advisor does not mean that you cannot go to other professors for advice.  If for some reason your advisor just isn’t the right fit for you, change advisors early on, they will not take offense.  You don’t want to be in your senior year and say, “man, I wish I would have known this earlier.”

Another piece of advice is to plan your schedule for your four years as a psychology major.  I packed most of my psychology courses into my first three years and by the time senior year came, the only psychology courses I really had were History and Literature I and II.  I wish I had spaced out my courses so that I had at least one other psychology course like health psyc. During my senior year.  I genuinely loved my psychology courses and I was a little disappointed that I was just doing random electives my senior year.  I also recommend taking the field or clinical experience course.  It helped me see what I liked and didn’t like about psychology in the actual work setting.

Lastly I would suggest is to pick up a minor.  You will probably hear that from all your professors too.  Some minors are easy to do as a psychology major like counseling and human services or sociology.  I minored in philosophy because we’re required to take two theology and two philosophy courses with an additional theo. or phil. Course of our choosing.  For a philosophy minor all you need intro., ethics, and four other philosophy courses.  I liked philosophy because psychology kind of stemmed from philosophy.  Take advantage of this.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Each person has their own unique college experience.  I began my junior year and my journey at the University of Scranton the fall of 2016. Prior to that, I attended Nassau Community College on Long Island, where I earned my associates degree in liberal arts. Nassau Community College was a great start for me, it was inexpensive, two blocks from my house, and it is one of the best community colleges in the country. I started there because I was unsure about what I wanted to major in or future career to pursue. I had a great experience, I loved it, and loved all of my professors. But I always knew that I wanted to go to the University of Scranton ever since my older brother graduated from here in 2007. Before committing to Scranton, I decided to major in psychology. Ever since I took my first college level psychology class in high school, I found the subject very fascinating.

Transferring to a different school my junior year was very intimidating. But luckily I knew a lot of people who already went here and I transferred with my sister. The University of Scranton community was very welcoming and did not make me feel like a transfer student but rather one that has been here all along. I have met some brilliant professors and amazing faculty throughout my two years here. Not only does the school offer great psychology classes but we are given a broad variety of wonderful classes to choose from. My experience here at the university was very eye opening. Not only did I grow as a person but I figured out my plan for the future. I remember orientation and even though it was only two years ago, I am such a different person now. I have matured greatly and expanded my knowledge and hands on experience. Graduation will be a very bittersweet moment, of course I will see my close friends after. But I definitely plan on also keeping in touch with some professors and faculty after graduation as well.

Going from high school, to being away from home at college is a big transition. It can seem overwhelming and nerve wrecking at first but being someone who is about to complete their undergraduate college career, I would like to leave you with some advice. One piece of advice is to take advantage of the resources this university provides for their students. There are so many things you can go to for help and guidance, such as the writing center, career services, the library offers so many student services, or something as simple as going to a professors office hours. You should never feel alone or hopeless because there will always be someone to lend you a hand when you need one. Depending on where you went to high school, the college workload can be very different and much greater. Learn to manage your time well, college is a very exciting time and you have so much more freedom. But with all of this new freedom comes more responsibility, so you must learn to balance your social life and student life. I hate to say it but college life is full of stressors. A healthy tip to deal with the stress is to take care of yourself every day. Everyone copes differently, so take time each day to do something for yourself. Doing this you can reduce the buildup of stress and improve your coping skills for when they are needed and trust me this will be very beneficial. 

Another word of advice would definitely get involved. There is always something to do on campus, whether it’s joining a club, an activity, donation drives, taking a yoga class, intramural sports, or a poster fest, there are so many options. Getting involved in extracurricular activities is great for your resume, it’s a great way to make friends, and it makes you feel like you are part of something greater. Also, make an effort to get to know the faculty. Creating good relationships with teachers and faculty is very beneficial and creates a greater sense of the university community. Expanding your social network is extremely valuable in the long run and can really help you when applying for a job or graduate school. Looking back, I wish I did get more involved in the university when I transferred. The University of Scranton is such a wonderful place with amazing people and great opportunities, try not to take it for granted. Best of luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

             I wish someone had written this letter for me. As a senior with a few weeks left in my undergraduate career, it has become increasingly clear that my time at Scranton is coming to a rapid close and that I am not the same person I was as a freshman. And so, I hope you get something out of this letter, instead of passing it off as a silly assignment.

             When I was a freshman, I had almost no certainty with what I was doing. All I could be sure of was vague passion to understand why people do what they do. I realized later that this was perfectly fine. In the first year, everyone experiences anxiety and doubt about their major, alongside other things. Therefore, I encourage you to think about being open-minded about your psychology courses. Then, once you’ve gotten an idea of the major, make sure you are excited about it. If not, explore other majors. In other words, it is not enough to just take the introductory course. Test out some courses you find interesting and potentially relevant to your future goals. You can view the course catalog online to see descriptions of courses and use the “rate my professor” website, but I recommend paying attention when other professors come to your introductory psychology class and speak about their work. If you get a positive feeling about their area of work or their style of teaching, their classes might be a good fit for you to consider.

             It is crucial to remember that these professors are the ones that can open doors for you. Unlike in high school, the general perspective in college is that professors and students are on even ground for the simple reason that everyone is an adult. It is not weird for you get some coffee with your professor or go to their office hours for a discussion. As long a professional line remains, this is acceptable. This is important because you will need letters of recommendation for future schooling or employment, and it is helpful if the professor can attest to your character outside of the classroom. This was something not heavily emphasized in my early undergraduate days.

            No one informed me that I needed to form close ties with professors, nor that graduate school was more than likely for my future goals. This is something to take into heavy consideration early on. If you are looking to work in private practice as a clinical psychologist, you will need to go to graduate school for a PhD or Psyd which can take over five years. However, this is far from the only option with a psychology degree. For me, this meant finding my own internships, working in two research labs creating close bonds with professors early on, taking the GREs(entrance exam for graduate programs in psychology) and applying to graduate programs. As soon as you take an interest in a certain area, find out what schooling you need.

             My best experiences as a psychology major have been in my research and clinical activities. (Don’t forget to explore non-academic activities as well!) After taking courses I thoroughly enjoyed, and could picture myself working in, I went to professors’ office hours, spoke to them about their work, and asked about their research labs. Not all professors will have a research lab, but you could still get to know them for a letter of recommendation. With research, so many doors are opened. Especially if you want to get into many of the graduate psychology programs, research experience is often needed or recommended even if you only plan on working with people clinically. I learned how to read and analyze psychology research, lead research sessions with participants, create proposals, design surveys, code data, run and interpret statistical analyses and write up manuscripts and poster presentations. I was fortunate to work for professors to aid in their personal research, as well as complete my independent study which I will be presenting at Scranton as well as national psychological conferences. If this interests you, understand that your ideas are important and professors want to hear them.

            Along the same line, clinical experience is needed. The major has an optional internship course, in which you find a placement and take a class alongside it to discuss your experience. Two internships is a minimum requirement for many graduate programs and jobs. Find them as soon as possible. It is okay to contact local organizations via phone or e-mail and just explain that you’re a psychology major and ask if there are any internship opportunities. The internship class the university offers is good, but it is still up to you to contact and find a placement. Internships can be exciting, but also draining so a summer internship or one during a lighter semester can help.

             I will close with a few final pieces of advice. Firstly, check out counseling and human services programs. The main differences between counseling and psychology include the populations treated, perspective, and graduate school and job opportunities. Counseling often works more with adjustment issues in individuals, approaches problems with a strengths-based approach and uses much less research, and programs are shorter. I had a counseling minor that aided my clinical skills as well as provided courses not offered in psychology. For example, I took a counseling class specifically for veterans and the military because I hope to eventually   work with the Office of Veterans’ Affairs. A second word of caution: pay attention in statistics and research methods courses. These are the foundation of the major and need special attention. You will need these courses to understand research which psychology is built upon, because yes, it is a science. Psychology is not easy, but it can be so rewarding. So, be proud that you have an interest in this exciting and compassionate field. I wish you luck in your four years at Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome! If you’re anything like me, you have a million thoughts rushing through you right now. What do the next 4+ years hold for you? Are these really going to be the happiest years of your life? Will you make a ton of friends, join numerous clubs, and live up your college years? Are you going to work harder than you ever have? All of these questions are up to you to answer. Everybody goes down their own, unique path in life, one of the most important things to remember. I made some of the best decisions of my life during college, and some of the worst. There are ten tips I have for incoming psychology majors.

Breathe. College is the epitome of overwhelming sometimes, as you may have heard. You will reach breaking points, and you’ll wonder if all of it is worth it. I’m here to tell you, as a senior, it is worth it. Do not quit. Although it is stressful at times, you will push beyond your own limits, and grow stronger. The first year is proven to be the worst. I know how that sounds, but take it as a feeling of comfort. It only gets better. The change from high school to college was one of the biggest ones I have made, so far. Now as I prepare myself for the real world, I realize that college is not something to lose your breath over.

Appreciate everything around you. I had trouble doing this for years. I was grateful to go to such an amazing school, where my professors have taught me more than I could ever imagine. I was grateful to be surrounded by helpful staff, friendly faces, and a beautiful campus. However, there were times were I did not want to leave my house, questioned dropping out, and even skipped a few classes. When you go through these moments, remind yourself, this is temporary. Every day is a new day; wake up with a positive attitude and start over.

One of the things I would change about my college experience is campus involvement. As a commuter, I got used to coming to campus, going to lecture, and leaving campus. It is hard to be as involved when you do not live on campus, but not impossible. Whether it is a club, a sports team, the writing center, it does not matter just JOIN SOMETHING. I spent my college years working numerous jobs. I told myself I would not regret it because I am not exactly a “club” person. Yet here I am, wishing I had done it. Some of the friends you make in college wind up in your life forever, give it a chance. You have the rest of your life to work a 9-5.

Absorb the knowledge, absorb the atmosphere, absorb everything. Psychology is a beautiful major where you discover things about yourself, society, and the world. Pay attention. There are skills to learn that you will carry with you every day. The psychology professors are life changing human beings. They are helpful, humorous, caring, understanding, and most of all, helpful. I had teachers during my high school years that impacted me in such negative ways, I figured the same would happen in college. I can genuinely say that out of the four years I have spent here, I have not met one professor that I wish I had not taken. All of them have taught me so much, beyond academics. Absorb the knowledge you will gain, from your psychology classes to your philosophy classes, there is something to learn from every single course.

Last but not least, take your time. I sit here on May 9th, which just happens to be my 22nd birthday. I look back; I wanted to rush through high school, rush through college, and start my “real” adult life. Even in college, I took too many courses at once. People will tell you to enjoy these years and go slow, listen to them. Take your time, growing as a person, learning new things, and planning the next steps. In the end, you’ll realize that it wasn’t about how well you did on that one exam, or what your GPA was, or even how long it took you to get through it all. It is all about the journey to self-discovery, as cliché as it may sound now. Just remember, take it day by day. Each day holds a new story, chapters and chapters of stories that will eventually piece together into the book of your life. Make it a good one.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Freshman,

            I hope you find yourself at home here at the University of Scranton. It is a wonderful school with plenty of opportunities to discover what interests you. The staff and faculty are exceptionally kind and helpful in various ways. I hope this little advice helps you along the way throughout your college experience.

            When I first started college I had no idea what to expect. I was not prepared for the coursework that was about to be placed on me. I had originally started as a pre-med and psychology major, but then I quickly learned that medical school was not for me. I stayed with psychology, and I am glad I did. The first year of courses are not bad at all. They are quite easy in fact. Do not get too comfortable with the easy work, it does get more challenging later on.

            During my sophomore year, I was in statistics and research methods. Those were definitely not my favorite or my best classes. Since I had such a lack of interest in both, I regretfully did not put as much time and effort towards both of the classes. Had I cared a little more, I would have done much better. Although you will have classes that will not be a favorite, they will be important. So always try your best, even if your best is not reflected n the outcome. On the plus side of sophomore year, you become more involved in classes that are tailored toward your future. There are many elective classes to choose from. Take advantage of them, even if they don't pertain to your aspiring career, take the class anyway. You can always learn and apply something new from different areas in psychology.

            Junior year was even more challenging, but at the same time even more directive towards my career. If you want to pursue clinical psychology, I highly recommend the clinical psychology class. It is a great course taught by a great professor. I also had the opportunity to study abroad the fall of my junior year and still graduate on time. If you are able to study abroad, I suggest you do so. Living in the culture of another country is a great way to learn about yourself and what life is like outside of America. Some colleges offer courses like positive psychology, which does not exist at Scranton, as of now. This is also the time where clinical and research experience are important depending on the route you plan on taking. I advise you to start looking earlier rather than later. This is usually the time students apply for those kinds of positions. Also, take advantage of being close with professors, it pays off tremendously!

            Once you get to senior year, classes are mainly chosen at your liking. There are only a few required classes left which are a breeze. Do not slack off because it is senior year, although it is difficult to resist. Mainly, just enjoy the last bit of college and all the classes, clubs, and activities the school has to offer. The one thing I regret most is procrastinating. It hurts your grades and your free time. Plan your work for the week and use the syllabus with the entire semester planned out to your advantage. When it comes to reading or paper assignments, break it up in chunks, trust me. You do not want to get behind or cram a large paper into a short period of time. Time management is key to success!

            Overall, enjoy these next four years. You will have ups and downs, stressful times, and a ton of fun times. So do NOT wish away the best four years of your life. I wish I could be you and relive college all over again. You will meet some of your best friends and make life-long connections with students from all over the place. Let your experiences take you through this great journey you are about to embark on and just enjoy the ride while it lasts! Congratulations on becoming a psychology major at one of the greatest Universities!

            Best of luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

                Welcome to Scranton! The next few years will present some of the greatest challenges you’ll experience in your life, but they will be some of the best years you’ll have. The University of Scranton taught me not only about psychology, but it has also taught me important life skills and values. I love it here, and I hope you will too!

                One of the first things I was concerned about when I began my college career was that since this is a Jesuit university, I was going to be forced to take religion classes. If you’re anything like me, you may be dreading that. But, they are much different than I expected. They actually became some of my favorite classes I’ve taken because they not only allowed me to learn about different religions but they taught me to see things around me differently. They helped me to learn about what religion really is about and it made me not dislike it so much anymore.

                The courses here, of course, are not easy. In high school, I was a person that did not need to do much work or put much effort into studying in order to get A’s. If that sounds like you, that changes now. Some classes are easier than others (behavioral neuroscience was probably the most difficult course I’ve ever taken in my life) but even in those easier classes, you still need to put in the work. There’s almost no such thing as extra credit anymore, so don’t expect to be able to rely on that. One thing I cannot stress enough is to read and re-read your books for every course! Teachers don’t cover all the material that’s on their tests like high school, so some of this you’ll be on your own. It’s worth it though, I promise. Find your time when studying is the easiest for you – when you are the most awake and alert – and take advantage of these times.

                On a more positive note, however, I have never met a psychology professor that didn’t actually care about the students. As long as you show you are actually trying, your professors will be there for you to help you through the difficult times no matter what – and not only with classwork. With the small class sizes, you gain great relationships with your teachers. I look at some of the teachers I’ve had now like they are friends, because they really do care and want you to succeed in life.  They are some of the greatest people you will ever meet.

                One thing I regret is not getting involved. You will automatically be in the psychology club as a psychology major, so please take my advice and go to the meetings and to the events. As a commuter, I felt it was too difficult to drive back and forth to attend these types of things, and so I didn’t. However, I know I missed out on some really great experiences and friendships, and if I could go back to the beginning of my college career and attend everything, I would. If you’re dorming, I especially wouldn’t miss these opportunities. College is not only about learning, but about making memories, something I wish I realized early on.

                These next few years are going to challenge every part of your being. You’ll have your ups and downs, and at times you’ll feel like giving up. Push through! Everything will fall into place, and before you know it, you’ll be two weeks away from graduating like I am right now. Good luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First of all, congratulations and welcome to the University of Scranton! I am incredibly jealous that you are at the beginning of your college experience; I would do anything to be back in your shoes. Let me begin by giving you a piece of advice that you will definitely hear many times over the next few years, but only because it is so true. It might seem like you have a long road ahead of you, but these next four years are going to fly by so fast you won’t believe it when it’s all over. It is so important to cherish every experience and memory during this time. This is a time in your life when you are going to grow and learn so much, experience so many things, both good and bad, and make lasting friendships and memories. Take advantage of every opportunity, because before you know it you will be nostalgic senior like I am right now!

            I am sure right now you are overwhelmed, nervous, and excited all at the same time, but believe me when I say that you are not alone. Everyone around you is feeling the same emotions. Being a freshman is scary, but you are also about to meet so many people and do so many new things. The best advice I can give is to put yourself out there; join a club or a sport, go to dinner with people on your floor, talk to the person sitting next to you in class. One of the greatest things about Scranton is how welcoming everyone is here. I did not go here freshman year, but when I transferred here sophomore year I was amazed at how quickly I made friends and felt like I truly belonged.

            As you begin your college career, it is also likely that you are a little unsure of your major choice, and that is okay too! You have plenty of time to confirm whether this is the major for you, so take this first year to really get a feel for the psychology classes, and take some classes outside of the major to see if something else sparks your interest even more. I took a Counseling class my junior year, and this ultimately led me to pick up Counseling & Human Services as a minor. If you are feeling unsure about your major, taking classes in other areas is a good idea, so you can see if there is something that would be a better fit, or would prove to be a good minor to pick up as well. No matter what, there are going to be some classes you like more than others. There are definitely some psychology courses you will have to take that are very boring, and some that are very difficult. However, you will find this with whatever major you have, and if you can stick it out, you will also find classes you really like and look forward to attending!

            One of the great things about this school is that you are truly able to get to know your professors, and they are able to get to know you. Over your four years here it is very likely you will have some of the same professors more than once, and that proves very helpful for the future. There were certainly a few professors I did not get along with that well, but I was lucky enough to forge strong relationships with two of my professors, and they have helped me monumentally during my time here. Both of them helped me with questions I had regarding my schedule, my major, and my future. They both wrote me recommendations letters for the future, and I even worked with one as their Teaching Assistant. Do not be afraid to go up to your professor and talk to them! Every professor in this department has their own strengths and specialties, and no matter what you will definitely be able to find one who you feel comfortable around and can build a relationship with.

            Your time here is going to be filled with great times, bad times, fun times and stressful times. You are going to make mistakes, but it is important to be able to keep pushing forward. I know there are definitely times I should have studied more for a test, or taken a different class at a different time, or spoken up more when I needed help. I certainly have some regrets, but I also can look back and accept that these mistakes led me to where I am, and no matter how bad I thought something was at the time, I was able to get past it. You might fail a test, but the good news is you will take many, many more throughout your college career that you can do better on! As long as you are taking care of yourself and trying to make good choices, both academically and socially, you WILL be okay!

            I hope this letter proves helpful to you in some way! I wish you the best of luck during your time here, and I know you will have an amazing four years at the University of Scranton!

Sincerely,

A very sad outgoing Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

                As my final semester at the University of Scranton comes to a close I would look to reflect back on my experiences and provide you with the best advice possible. I hope the next four or five years will be as good for you as they were for me. I have met many amazing people and experienced things that I will never forget. While my experience has been quite enjoyable that does not mean there weren’t a few bumps in the road. This letter is my attempt to help you cope more easily with all of the struggle you may face during your journey through college.

                My first words of advice are to have fun but find a balance between social life and schoolwork. By this I mean that you are in college, you will meet new people and experience new things. Having a good time is part of college but too much of a good thing can be bad. Make sure that you are taking care of your schoolwork first. You are here for four years missing one night out or one night hanging with friends is no big deal. It has taken me five years to graduate that is because I failed to take my own advice and had too much fun. I have learned from that mistake however, and now know how to balance my life. I believe the knowing how to manage your work and social life is essential to collegiate success and will also help you grow for the future.

                The second piece of advice I would like to share is to not be afraid to ask for help. Whether it has to deal with personal issues or something as simple as help with a paper don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You are surrounded by thousands of people each and every day that are willing to listen and lend a helping hand whether they know you or not. Once again I can say from experience that failing to do so only makes life harder. Our professors are here to help us, no matter how simple you think the question may be don’t be afraid to ask. Their job is to teach and ours is to learn, so utilize their knowledge and ask for help. I can say that I have very rarely gotten help from my professor’s but the few times I have it has made my work so much easier. Also don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help. Like I said before it may be with school or with a personal issue either way they are here to listen to you. Your friends aren’t there to judge you, they want the best for you. I know this may be tough in some cases but never feel like you are alone because I can tell you the friends I made here are like brothers to me.

               Another word of advice I would like to a share with you is to not wait until the last minute to do your assignments. I am the first to admit that I am a grade A procrastinator. I will find any excuse to put off an assignment until the last minute. I’ll even say things to myself or others things like “well I work better under pressure”, for some this may be true but I can assure you for most it is not. Waiting until the last minute leads to unneeded stress and poor performance. While I have never been good at completing my assignments in advance I can tell you that staying up until 4 a.m. trying to cram for a test or write a 15 page paper due at 8:30 the next day is not fun. I can also tell you my best grades come when I work on things in advance. College is full of so many distractions give yourself time to navigate around those distractions and get your work done. Along with making sure you do work in advance I would like to say that you should go to class! Attendance has never been a strong suit of mine but I have slowly but surely gotten the hang of it. It as simple as waking up brushing your teeth and walking to class in the same sweats you wore to bed. When you miss class whether you get notes from someone who was there or not you fall behind. Once you start to miss a few classes you create huge gaps in the thing you would have learned in class. Having a professor teach you his/her lesson is far easier then outlining 40 pages of a chapter to look back and think “what did I just read?”. So go to class it’s for your benefit, yeah sometimes it’s a little boring or you might not feel well but it will be worth it in the end.              

                One final word of advice I would like to give you is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. College is an amazing place with many new opportunities don’t be afraid to step out and try something new. I can tell you in my five years I did this far too little. Don’t be afraid because there are a ton of other kids in the same boat as you. There are so many things I wish I had tried or even given a chance and didn’t because I was nervous or too shy, I don’t want that to be you.

                I could go on for hours talking about my college experience but I don’t want to bore you. Hopefully this letter finds you well and provides you with some beneficial words of advice. Just remember your time here at the U will come to an end so make the most of it. Best of luck I hope you have as good of a time as I did.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            You are about to being a journey at a unique time in your life. As I tell you about my journey through college, I hope you can learn from it and have the best experience possible. Attending the University of Scranton is a wonderful experience, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

            When I entered college, I was a chemistry major planning on attending medical school. Soon into my college career, I decided this was not the right path for me. In my first year of school here, I took two psychology courses. It was at this time that I decided to change my major to psychology; I have not regretted that decision for a single second. I absolutely loved learning about psychology, although some classes were more interesting than others. At the end of my junior year, after taking a ‘careers in psychology course,’ I decided that although I loved learning about psychology, I did not want to pursue a career in it. I did extensive research, and found again interested in the medical field. I continued with my psychology major, and took the prerequisite courses I needed to get into the nursing program I will be attending in the fall. I could not be happier that I was able to change my mind (again) so late in the game, keep the major I loved so much, and still have time to take the courses I needed for my dream career. This experience taught me an amazing lesson I wish I had known earlier, and hope to pass on to you. It is never too late to change your mind and do what you love. You need to love what you are learning, and love what field you are planning to go into.

            I am not going to lie to you, college is tough. The classes are hard, the workload can become unbearable, and there will be times when you want to just give up. I encourage you to keep powering through, because it is so worth it in the end. It can be hard to stay on task, complete your assignments on time, attend all classes, get enough sleep, and maintain a social life. The key here is balance. It is important to take care of yourself, don’t forget that. Get enough sleep, eat well (the freshmen 15 is very real), and stay positive. My uncle once taught me what he calls ‘the 8 rule,’ and I have followed it ever since. Every day (including the weekends!), dedicate 8 hours to academics (classes, homework, studying), 8 hours to sleep, and 8 hours for yourself (eating, gym, friends). Although this can seem hard at first, it ensures that you maintain the balance that you need to stay healthy and do well in school. It is important to have time for yourself and to have fun (and stay safe), but it is also important to make sure you do well in school, after all, that’s why you are here!

            Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Go to your professors’ office hours and ask questions. They are more than willing to help (and will let you vent if you need to). Through this I have developed some amazing relationships with professors who have changed my life. Utilize the writing center and group study sessions, they are very helpful and a good way to meet other students to study with. Find a place that you are productive in. Whether it is your house, dorm, or the library (the silver chairs on second floor are incredibly comfortable); find somewhere you can set up and get as much work done as possible.

            I encourage you to become involved on campus; this is a great way to meet people and to find out what things interest you. Trust me, you will find something you enjoy doing (really, I promise!) Join clubs, join intermural sports, go on retreats, go to campus events, join a research lab, just put yourself out there! Be as involved as possible without spreading yourself too thin. You will meet amazing people and have the time of your life.

            As I end my letter to you, I want to remind you of something I started with. This is a very unique time in your life. You will make friends and connections that will last a lifetime. Enjoy every second of it, and please don’t rush it or take it for granted (trust me, you will regret it if you do).

Sincerely, a senior who wishes she could stay here forever

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            My experiences as a University of Scranton Psychology Major have been both rewarding and challenging. Originally, I entered this school undeclared, and took a variety of language and psychology courses. I switched my major several times before ultimately deciding on psychology. Although I love learning languages, I liked that psychology was so broad and offered a variety of different career paths. The professors are incredibly supportive and offer excellent career advice as well. Do not be afraid to approach the professors and visit them during office hours; they are here to help!

            The Career Development course is informative and tells you exactly what you need to do to get into graduate school. Usually, this course is offered in the fall for juniors, but I took this course as a senior because I did not switch into psychology until the late fall of my junior year. As a senior, and even as a junior, you may feel overwhelmed by the information provided in this course, but do not worry. Even if you are a senior and find that you are behind in what you need to do for graduate school, you can always take a year off to obtain more experiences. Taking a gap year will allow you to be sure that whatever career path you choose is right for you, especially before committing to a rigorous PhD program.

            Overall, I am happy with my decision to major in psychology here at the University of Scranton. Because this is a small school, there is more one-on-one time with the faculty, which allows you to get to know the professors on a personal level. This is especially helpful for obtaining letters of recommendation for graduate school. Additionally, there are many opportunities to get involved, such as clubs, field experiences, conducting research with the faculty, and teaching assistantships. After I switched to psychology, I tried my best to become as involved as possible, despite my heavy course load. I became involved in research, I joined Psi Chi, and I became a teaching assistant. For me, these experiences were challenging because I am introverted, but I am proud that I pushed myself outside my comfort zone. If you are more extroverted, it might be easier for you, but even if you are introverted or shy, do not be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. College is a time for growth and self-discovery, and you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of.

            I also recommend becoming involved in activities outside the major as well. This will make you a well-rounded person and a better candidate for graduate school. I also suggest that you find an opportunity to study abroad. Even if you cannot study abroad for an entire semester, there are summer programs and programs that are offered over intersession. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy the summer after my freshman year and I loved it! It broadened my horizons and gave me the opportunity to meet people from different countries. This was the first opportunity I had to travel and I cannot wait for the next one!

            My last recommendation is to take a variety of courses during your freshman and sophomore years to discover what you are interested in. If after a few courses you decide that your interests lie elsewhere, then feel free to switch majors. There is no need to feel obligated to stick to a career you do not enjoy. If you do not love what you do, chances are you will not be happy with your profession or your life. If you do not end up finding out what you love after these four years, than at least choose something you can tolerate and go from there. Not everyone ends up doing what he or she loves, but if you work hard and persevere, if will pay off. I hope you are one of the people who ends up loving what he or she does, but if you are not, do not feel bad. Take it one day at a time, strive to find a balance between work and leisure, and most importantly, never give up!

Good luck!

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Dear Incoming Freshman University of Scranton Psychology Student,

                Welcome to the University of Scranton. You have chosen a fine University to pursue your education. It is my hope that while here at the U, you will find yourself in an environment in which you will grow and develop academically, personally and spiritually. Making the transition from high school senior to college freshman is both an exciting and difficult period of time in your life. By choosing to become a University of Scranton student, you have chosen to leave the familiarity and comfort of home and begin a new enterprise.  While here at the University, you will become part of a new community of peers and faculty members from all over the country, and the world. Acknowledging and embracing the potential and opportunity the University of Scranton has to offer you is the first step in becoming both a successful student and individual. It is very important that you are aware of all the resources available to you as a student and individual. The University provides its students with all forms of support, academic counseling, the CTLE writing department, dedicated to improving students writing skills, as well as the center for health and well-being. Utilizing the many resources available to you here on campus will help insure that you succeed in becoming a successful student and individual. The most valuable resources you have here on campus are your professors. Get to know your professors on a personal level. Become someone that they recognize and know. Remember, your professors were once young students like yourself. They are more than willing to assist you in academic efforts, as well as providing you with support in other regards. Engage them during and after class. By engaging yourself in class and with your professors with the course material will insure that you receive the most from your education. This is the benefit of attending a University with small class sizes.

                Much of the difficulty in being a first year undergraduate University student is selecting which major or concentration of study you will pursue. As you have already made this difficult decision, you are in my opinion already at an advantage to those who have not. I myself, like many other first and second year undergraduate students had much difficulty in declaring my major. It is of most importance that you are passionate about the field you choose to pursue. The study of human Psychology is a fantastic realm of academia to pursue and the University attempts and in my opinion succeeds in providing its students with a diverse range of courses and subject material. The Psychology curriculum is designed to prepare students for a diverse range of post-graduate and professional applications, as well as to benefit the overall well-roundedness of the individual that a liberal arts education provides a student with. Being a University student is an exciting opportunity. You are here to grow and develop as an individual both in and outside of the classroom. Becoming active on-campus and participating in University activities is a great way to introduce yourself to new people, challenge the parameters of your comfort zone and partake in a range of diverse experiences.

                Be a responsible student. Work with your academic advisor to plan your academic course work ahead of time. Know what classes are available to you and what classes are required for the Psychology curriculum. College-level course work is far more demanding than high school. To become a successful student it is important that you plan ahead of time. Complete homework and reading assignments ahead of time. Be prepared for class and participate. Participating in class is a great way to build a relationship with your professors and make yourself known amongst your peers. Social interaction is a large part of the University experience. Staying on-top of your course work will allow you to socialize during the week and weekends. Be responsible in regards to your behavior on and off campus. House parties in the hill section are of much allure to young and naïve students searching for fun on the weekends. Do not allow the social “party” aspect of college to become the primary reason you are here. Building relationships with your peers on and off campus will provide you with new friendships and opportunities for further individual and intellectual growth and development. Engage and challenge your fellow peers both in and outside of the classroom. Be an active participant in your intellectual growth, it will be the most rewarding aspect of your University experience.

The University of Scranton is a venue for individual and intellectual growth. Optimize the time you have here.  Allow yourself to become the best student, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandson, granddaughter you can be. The University of Scranton is an academic community dedicated to nurturing the needs and desires of young capable and ambitious minds. The journey is the reward. Embrace the challenge.

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To My Fellow Incoming Freshman,

            I would like to take this opportunity to talk to you about your upcoming experience here at the University of Scranton. The first thing I would like to address to you is the most important. To set this up, I will first summarize my experience. When I came here to the University I had no clue about my future endeavors. I came into this school with no plans, passions, or expectations about what I wanted to do with my life. It seemed that everyone else in the world knew exactly what they wanted to do; and they had a plan too! It took me my entire college career to figure out what I wanted to do. And now, as a second semester senior, I declared a second major in Community Health Education. Though I will be here another year, it doesn’t bother me one bit, because I know that I am on the right track to a profession that I know I will enjoy and love. So my first piece of advice to you is this: take your time in figuring out what you want to do in life. Seems simple enough, but the stigma placed on us is one that demands we know what we want to do right out of high school. As far as I’m concerned, both you and I are still children. So take your time figuring things out.

            Second on my list of advice to you, is to branch out in every realm possible. Try things that may not seem “like you.” An easy way to do this, is to take classes on subjects that have always interested you but never had the opportunity to study in high school. Also take classes that you may not know anything about. You may find that out this is your passion, or calling. Besides academics, branch out into new activities. When I came to the University I weighed 242 pounds. I started to exercise and read about nutrition. I lost 72 pounds in 10 months, and dropped down to 170 pounds. Now I am a competitive athlete and amateur Olympic weightlifter. And I hope now, with my new major, to turn this “hobby” I picked up into a career. You can find out what you really want to do in life very easily. Here’s the secret: take note of the things you love to do, and turn it into a career. If you don’t know what you love to do yet, that’s alright. Just wait it out. Eventually, something will come your way. When it does, you may not know it. It will consume most of your time and turn you into an expert about the subject in a matter of weeks. At this point, you will soon realize that you found something you want to pursue for the rest of your life.

            Next on my list of advice is to take a hard look at yourself. Find out who YOU are. Not your parents, not your friends, not your brothers or sisters, not anyone else but you. Take time to mold your personality and values. Then pick out your close friends and act accordingly. Don’t try to impress anybody, because people generally don’t care. Understand that people will be attracted to you if you simply are you. Sounds cheesy, I know. But it makes sense. I spent many wasted months being friends with people that didn’t matter. It wasn’t until I figured out myself that I was truly happy. Another important part about self-realization, is knowing that you will mess up. I promise, you will mess up; some more than others. But like the saying goes, it doesn’t matter if you fail, it’s how you deal with the failure. If there’s anything I learned about failure, is that only geniuses don’t screw up. The only thing to do, is to prepare yourself for failure and move ahead from it.

            I hope that this letter is helpful to any of you that read it. I’m sure others are telling you about classes or the “University of Scranton experience.” These are things that you should figure out on your own. Your experience here will be unique to you only. Take my words of advice seriously. You can do more than you think you can. Get involved in yourself before you get involved in anything else and the rest will follow. When things start to get tough, take time to yourself. YOU are the most important person on this campus.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton! I would like to start off by saying you have made an excellent decision in attending this university, and the choice of being a psychology major. The next four years will be the most memorable years of your life. There are a few words of advice I would like to provide you with in order for you to take full advantage of all that the university and the psychology department has to offer.

            The first word of advice I would like to provide you with is to get to know your professors. There is a small student to teacher ratio here, and you should take advantage of it as much as possible. In the field of psychology, you are most likely going to want to receive a higher education to specialize in a certain field. You will need professors who know you well to write letters of recommendations for graduate school. You will even need these for future job interviews. Getting to know your professors, and letting your professors get to know you will benefit you in the long run because your letters will be more personalized. With the small student to teacher ratio, you have a chance to interact with the faculty at many different levels. Seek out professors that research in fields that interest you, and become their research assistant. Also, if you are strong in a certain course ask the professor to become their teaching assistant. Doing extra tasks for a professor will allow them to get to know you outside of the classroom.

One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot be intimidated by any of the professors. I believe our department has some of the most helpful and friendly professors at the university. I remember the first time I met a certain professor I was scared of him. I thought he was the most intimidating man I have ever met. I was hesitant to take one of his courses, but decided to anyway. I am so thankful I did because I ended up enjoying every minute of that course. I became his teaching assistant for two semesters, took almost every class he offered, and now he is my favorite professor I had throughout my four years here. All of the professors are here to help you succeed in everything you do. They truly want what is best for you, so do try and get to know every one of them.

The second word of advice I would like to give you pertains to the psychology courses you should take. The department requires that you take five of the core eight psychology courses. I would recommend taking more than five. The core eight is a great way to capture all that psychology has to offer. Right this minute you might think you know exactly what field in psychology you are most interested in. However, after taking these courses you might change your mind. I know many students who have changed their path in psychology once they have taken a course in a different subject. For instance, one of my friends is headed to graduate school in social psychology, when originally she was interested in clinical psychology. Be open-minded and take courses to broaden your education. Also, do not be afraid to challenge yourself. You are not here to take courses that are easy and do not require a lot of work. You are here to gain knowledge and challenge yourself. You are paying a lot of money to attend the University of Scranton, so make it worth your while.

Another word of advice is to not rely on other students’ opinions of certain classes and professors who teach them. For instance, I guarantee you will hear to not take the course titled behavioral neuroscience. Many students say it is the most difficult psychology course, and to not bother taking a course that would require you to do so much work. Yes, the course is difficult, but just because one student did not do well or did not find it interesting does not mean you will think the same. Stay away from taking the easy way out because in the end you may surprise yourself. Also, research methods will not be the death of you. Everyone gets through it and the course actually is a lot of fun.

A fourth word of advice relates to field experience. One of the smartest things I have done is to volunteer work and field experiences in the field of psychology. The department offers a field experience course. Take it. You will learn a great deal in this course because you will learn things in the field that you will not learn in your courses. Also, do not just take the field experience course. You have a long summer and winter break. Find placements close to home to gain even more experience. You will be able to test out different placements, age groups, situations, and locations. I had a total of four placements, and this is one factor that benefited me during my graduate school interviews.

The last advice I would like to provide you with is to make a four year plan. Look at the psychology curriculum and try to lay out all the courses you intend on taking. Time management is something essential to a successful four years. Having a plan will come in handy every semester when you choose new courses, and to make sure you will complete all required courses. I recommend bulking up on courses in the beginning, and lessening the amount of credits your final year. Having a small course load your final year will allow you to focus on applying for jobs, graduate school, or plainly enjoying your last year as a senior. Applying for graduate school could practically be considered a three credit course. It takes up a lot of your free time, believe me.

 Enjoy every minute of the next four years because they will fly by. I hope my words of advice have been helpful, and I hope you will take them to heart. I can honestly say that my experience in the psychology department has been wonderful, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I wish you the best of luck here at the University of Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First, I would like to congratulate you on your decision to attend The University of Scranton!  The next four years of your life here are going to be a life-changing experience.  I cannot say enough good things about Scranton and I am glad I was able to call it home for the past four years.  I hope the advice I give you in this letter helps you to have the best experience possible while you are a student here.

            When I started as a freshman here, I was a communication major.  Writing was always something I was passionate about, but once I started taking journalism classes, I did not enjoy it anymore.  During the second semester of my freshman year, I realized that I wanted to change my major.  My first piece of advice is to utilize the Career Services office as much as possible during your time here.  They are willing to help you with anything, including resume writing, practice interviews, and internship/job searches.  When I went to Career Services, I took a test to see what my interests were.  Then I was given packets of information for various different majors.  There were some personal issues I was dealing with at the time that had led me to begin seeing a therapist at the Counseling Center on campus.  This is also an excellent service to take advantage of because the sessions are included in the price of tuition and they are extremely helpful.  The counseling sessions helped me immensely, and this pushed me to make a decision to switch my major to psychology.  Luckily, I had taken the Introduction to Psychology class during my first semester of freshman year and I was taking Childhood and Adolescence during second semester, so I was not behind on psychology classes.  My advice to you is to take a variety of classes during your first year so you know for certain that you want to remain a psychology major.  It becomes difficult to change majors as you begin to take more in-depth classes.

            As for the psychology department, it is crucial to develop strong relationships with the professors for many reasons.  You get to know their research and teaching interests, which allows for opportunities for you to become their research assistants and teaching assistants.  Both of these are excellent ways to gain experience in the psychology field and to figure out interests of your own.  You will also need letters of recommendation when you are applying to jobs and/or graduate school, so it helps to have strong relationships with many professors.  All of the faculty in the psychology department are always willing to meet with you and help you if you need additional help for classes.  They want to see you succeed and are always available if you have any questions regarding different careers in psychology.

            I would also highly recommend getting involved in clubs, activities, and/or intramural sports as soon as possible.  It is an excellent way to meet new people and there are so many options to choose from.  Be sure you are able to balance your school work with the extracurricular activities.  I was originally a member of seven clubs and organizations, but I soon found that seven was too many, and I had to cut it down to four.  Go out of your comfort zone and join clubs that interest you that you may never have joined before.  The academic part of college is important, but it is just as important to have a well-rounded experience. 

A close family friend from home gave me a piece of advice after the first semester of my freshman year that has stuck with me ever since.  He told me that you will never remember the test you failed but you will always remember the friends you stayed up late studying with.  The friendships you make in college will last you a lifetime.  I met my roommate at the summer orientation for The University of Scranton and we have been roommates for all four years here.  She is one of my absolute best friends and I have met all of my other best friends here as well. 

            I also wanted to give you a couple pieces of non-academic advice.  It rains in Scranton more than anywhere I have ever been.  Always carry an umbrella with you because the weather in Scranton changes all the time.  Find a place on campus that you can go when you need to be alone because there will be times when you just need to get away from your dorm for a little while.  The Rose Garden across from Loyola Hall is a beautiful place to sit and relax.  Also, when I took a tour of Scranton, my tour guide told me to make sure I tried the smoothies in the library at Java City.  Make sure you try a smoothie at some point during your four years here because they are delicious!

I wish you the best of luck with everything you do.  Your time here will fly by in the blink of an eye, so make sure that your college experience is unforgettable and make every minute count!

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Dear freshman,

                First, I would like to congratulate you on your acceptance to the University of Scranton, Class of 2016. It is an amazing accomplishment. While looking back on my experiences at the University of Scranton, one image comes to mind. It is the image of my parents driving away after dropping me off for the first time at Nevil’s Hall. As I am unpacking my things, I get a rush of nervous excitement as I see other girls moving in, and finally get to meet my roommate. Little did I know she would become my roommate and best friend for my entire University experience.

                As I freshman, I had chosen to be a psychology major because I took a class in high school and though it would be interesting. It has been the best decision I have ever made. The psychology department at the University of Scranton is filled with intelligent, humorous, caring, professors who will do anything to help you with whatever you need. My first bit of advice is to be-friend the faculty. Faculty members enjoy when students come to office hours. This can be either for help, or just to chitchat. Think about this now, because those professors will know much more about you when they write your letters of recommendation four years later.

                My second bit of advice is whether or not you are interested in graduate school get involved in research. It is a wonderful experience, brings you closer to faculty members, and looks great on a resume. Do not just mess around your first year; go to class, study, work hard, and it will pay off in the end. You want to come across as a diligent student at the beginning of your college career so you do not have to try to make it up later. Psychology is an interesting subject, you picked it as your major and you should want to learn about it. As with any subject, there are moments when class is boring and dry and you just want to leave; however, there are also moments of interesting conversations, mind-blowing facts and knowledge you will hold with you the rest of your life.

                My third bit of advice is to take up a minor or a concentration. The psychology

curriculum has 33 free credits for you to do this. I was bold and decided to take up two minors. I suggest taking some classes in what you are interested in, see what you like, and go from there. It also looks great on a resume, and adds diversity to your course load. I knew I was interested in criminal justice and counseling, so I declared my minors my sophomore and junior year. Also, I would suggest getting to know professors for your other classes as well, not just your psychology classes. This is helpful if you need a letter of recommendation from a non-psychology faculty member.

                My fourth bit of advice is to go on a retreat sometime in your University career, and if you want to go on the SEARCH retreat, I suggest signing up freshman year. I am a senior, signed up sophomore year and did not get the opportunity to go. There are plenty of retreats every year through campus ministries. For clarification, I am by no means religious and do not want to push my beliefs forward; however, some of these retreats are not religious at all. I wish I had gone to one and had a weekend to myself.

                My last bit of advice to you is to STUDY ABROAD. This is the biggest regret of my college career and to this day, I am envious of those who made that decision. This is the only time in your life that you will be able to study in another country, live there for 6 months and be engulfed in the culture. Whether it is to an English speaking or non-English speaking country, halfway around the world, or to Canada, GO. If I can go back and do college over again, I would have studied abroad my sophomore year. If you are interested, talk to your advisor now; do not wait as I did, until it was too late.

                These four years will be the best years of your life. You will have great memories, meet amazing people, and never want to leave. You may run into people who try to make your live miserable, cheat, lie and steal, but that’s life in general. My ultimate last word of advice is to have fun! You will be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and please take

advantage of that. I am not saying go crazy and flunk out of school. However, I am saying know your limits and have a balance between your studies and your down time. If I can rewind time, I would go back to freshman year and do it all over again. In the BLINK of an eye, you will be a senior so I am telling you this because I wish someone would have told me. Find a group of friends who appreciate you for who you are, and friends that you do not have to be phony around. They will be the friends you keep for your entire life, and those friends you will want at your wedding. Live every moment to the fullest with the people you care about the most and do not look back. Good Luck!

 
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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your acceptance and welcome to the University of Scranton!  As a graduating senior psychology major, I hope to provide you with some insight about the University of Scranton, the psychology department, and college living. 

Coming to college can be overwhelming and intimidating.  It’s normal to feel homesick, anxious, and alone.  Making friends will alleviate these feelings.  Be open to making friends with everyone.  Begin friendships by treating others as you would like to be treated, but “the first time someone shows you who they are, believe them” (Maya Angelou).  Get involved by joining clubs, intramural sports, and campus activities.  Before you know it, Scranton will become your home.

As a freshman, my favorite aspect of college was freedom from my parents.  You are now free to go to sleep and wake up whenever you want. You can party without a curfew.  You can choose whether to attend class or to skip.  Remember that with freedom comes responsibility.  Exercise good judgement.  For instance, you are now largely responsible for your safety.  At night, do not walk alone in the hill section and always have a buddy at parties.  

Your experiences in college will affect your perceptions of others, yourself, and your values.  Be open and inclusive.  You will learn in philosophy and psychology that happiness is not passive or situational, but active.  In other words, happiness is an attitude.  Attempt to make the most of every experience and pursue your interests.  Bad things and mistakes are inevitable.  Do not victimize or isolate yourself.  Seek support and find meaning in each experience.  Learn from your mistakes and reevaluate your values.  When making a difficult decision refer to your moral code.  Strive to act in accordance with your values.  By doing this, I have found that bad experiences can be empowering as they often reveal great opportunities and stimulate personal growth. 

In regards to school work, plan ahead and manage your time wisely using a calendar.  Create daily schedules and avoid procrastination by doing work between classes.  Find balance and avoid extremes.  Work never ends but college does.  With that in mind, plan time for fun and relaxation but remember to prioritize your intellectual and personal development.

You will see many of your friends picking classes based on how easy the course is reported to be.  Do not base your course choices solely on how hard or easy the class is.  Pick classes based on the teacher and the content of the course.  Do not be afraid to challenge yourself!  There is no point in taking a course that you are not going to learn anything from.  Focus on developing new skills (e.g., critical thinking skills, study skills...) rather than strict memorization.  Actively engage in your classes and build relationships with your professors.  Your professors will prove to be helpful in a variety of areas.

Within the psychology department, professors are usually very easy to talk to, relatable, highly knowledgeable, and happy to help you.  You can build relationships with your professors by going to office hours, participating in class, and joining psychology organizations.  Never skip or show up late for an appointment!  If you are going to miss an appointment or be late, be sure to notify the professor as early as possible.  These professors will be writing you recommendation letters, for which they will be asked about your reliability, among other things.  

After your freshman year, begin inquiring about teaching assistantships and research opportunities.  Both are essential if you plan on attending graduate school.  Moreover, research and teaching experience will allow you to get to know your professors and provide you with tremendous opportunities for growth.  Teaching experience will provide you with a deeper understanding of your courses, teaching methods, and the process of learning.  You will learn the characteristics of an effective teacher and a good student.  As a teacher’s assistant, I learned the importance of a learning-centered approach to teaching, ethical teaching principles, evidence-based teaching techniques, and how to balance objective and subjective assessments.  Each of my teaching experiences has made me a better student.  

Research experience is equally if not more valuable than teaching experience.  In my research experiences, I have grown both personally and intellectually.  I learned how to better analyze research articles, synthesize information, and write scientifically.  I learned how to respond constructively to criticism and communicate effectively.  I realized the reward for learning is not the reinforcement of a good grade, but rather the knowledge accumulated, the skills developed, and the final product of one’s research.  I gained a new appreciation for the unknown and research controlled trials.

The psychology department at the University of Scranton provides many opportunities for both personal and intellectual growth.  It is authentically defined by the “restless pursuit of excellence grounded in gratitude, individual attention to students and respect for the uniqueness of each member of the University community... the promotion of justice, contemplation in action” and dedication to the freedom of inquiry.  Embrace this vision, take advantage of opportunities, and dedicate yourself to learning for learning’s sake. .  GOOD LUCK!

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Dear incoming student,

            Congratulations on choosing the University of Scranton. You are about to start the next four years of your life. The things you do, the friends you meet and the knowledge you gain all depend on you. You will have to learn how to balance leisure, schoolwork, rest and sleep. Taking time to think about this now may seem like more work to do at an already frustrating and hectic time but I insist that the long term benefits outweigh the short term burden. College: Why are you here? Are here because you want to be here? Are you here because you feel like you should be here? Or are you here because you were told to be here? No matter which category you fit into, you are here. So I suggest you use the next four years to find out who you are and who you want to become. If you already have an idea of what you want to become, that’s a great start. Yet to students who might not know what they want to be, I suggest you take a variety of classes this first year this will allow you to discover what fields you wish to pursue. There may be topics that interest you that you never thought of.

The many branches of psychology communicate nowadays among each other more and more. We are starting to see the interrelationships and interdependency of one field on another. If you are coming for clinical or non clinical psychology purposes, I would advise you to take the non-related preference classes seriously because there is a wealth of knowledge they have to provide. You might not like all of your professors but the ones that you do like, make time to dialogue with them because they can provide great advice (they did have to go to college as well) and have an abundance of knowledge to share. By talking with them, you can find out which professors are involved and studying topics you are interested in. Ask questions, pay attention and interact, doing these things will greatly reduce your study time. If you are in class you might as well pay attention. If you do not understand something ask a question; it is more beneficial to correct a misunderstanding now, than an incorrect memory later. Paying attention in class and taking good notes are crucial in developing good study habits. Good notes can make studying a breeze; not an arduous and tedious task. But it does require that you pay attention in class and develop a method of note taking that is tailored to your skills and weaknesses. College is not high school it is your job to get help and make decisions. When you need help, find it; it will not come to you.

There are many opportunities for you get involved in the psychology department whether it is undergraduate research, psychology clubs or becoming a teacher’s assistant. I insist that you get involved it will help you develop interpersonal relationship skills in a professional environment, which will assist you in your future endeavors. The campus also provides a variety of programs and clubs that may interest you. The city of Scranton is right down the street from the campus; make sure you get out and enjoy it. Lake Scranton is within driving distance and it is a tranquil place and has a nice jogging path; if that interest you. Make sure you make friends and go out to parties; this doesn’t mean act a fool. You are in college and it is critical for you to learn how to entertain yourself without adult guidance or supervision. Rest is just as important as well; not having a good night’s sleep can set you up for a disaster. Scheduling your time is going to make or break you. There are many opportunities that college has to provide, you must schedule your time wisely to ensure that you get the chance to enjoy the ones you want. You only have twenty-four hours in a day so figuring out how to include everything can be a frustrating chore. Mastering this task will not only assist you in your academic career, but help you throughout the rest of your life.

In conclusion, Make sure you have fun, meet new people, and find out new things about yourself. Four years goes fast. By the time you realize it, it will be over. There will be many ups and downs across your college journey yet if you push on. The rewards and knowledge you can gain may be rich and fulfilling.

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Dear incoming psychology major,

As a senior psychology major graduating in a month, I’m here to give you a few words of advice.  First, I’ll tell you a little about myself.  I came to Scranton as a transfer student but was basically starting here as a first semester freshman as a biology major.  I realized biology wasn’t for me and by the end of freshman year, I declared myself as a psychology major.  I have some advice for psychology specifically, and also for your time at the university in general. 

My first word of advice is to try and get as many required courses as you can out of the way your first two years.  Many of these courses require a passing grade of C- so if you don’t pass, you’ll have time to retake it.  Once these courses are out of the way, such as theology and philosophy, you’ll have more open electives to take that interest you, whether they’re psychology electives or non-major electives. 

The first two years are really important for maintaining your overall GPA.  Don’t slack off during this time because although it may seem like you’ll have plenty of opportunities to raise your grades, one failing grade in a class can hurt your overall GPA in the long run, even if all other class grades are good.  This happened to me freshman year in one class and ever since, I’ve been struggling to raise my GPA to where I want it to be. 

Take as many psychology electives as possible, even after completing all required psychology classes.  Also, don’t be afraid or hesitant to take a class that you’re interested in just because it seems difficult.  I was interested in taking behavioral neuroscience but heard there was a lot of extra reading and studying compared to other classes, and even though it did require a lot of time, it was one of my favorite classes of my entire college career and I learned a lot.  Since I was genuinely interested in the material, the amount of time it required didn’t steer me away.  

Try to visit your professor’s office hours, especially in subjects you’re most interested in.  This is something I wish I had done more of throughout the years.  If you decide to apply to graduate school, your professors can help guide you in the process, give advice on which schools are the best fit for your course of choice, and write you good letters of recommendation.  If you decide graduate school isn’t what you want to do, they can still help guide you in finding jobs or internships and writing good letters of recommendation. 

In addition to visiting professor’s office hours, try to get involved in student-faculty research.  Research experience gives you a huge edge whether you’re applying to graduate school or looking for an internship or full-time job.  I unfortunately didn’t realize this until it was too late to join on any research opportunities.  I’ve been applying for jobs/internships and mostly every job highly prefers previous research experience.  I also plan to attend graduate school in the future, so research would have helped in that situation as well. 

If you realize early on that you may want to apply for full-time jobs immediately after graduation rather than graduate school, picking a minor would be beneficial as a psychology major.  As I’m sure you’re aware, many careers in psychology have a preference for those with a master’s degree or PhD.  In addition to having research experience, having a minor will also give you an edge in finding a job.  This should be planned out early on so you know you’ll have enough time to complete a major and minor in time for graduation.  If it’s too much of a burden to complete during the regular semester hours, take advantage of intercessions. 

Intercessions are great opportunities to get extra credits out of the way.  Most other colleges start their spring semesters earlier, so many of your friends from home will already be back at school while you’re still on winter break.  If you take an intercession class, you’ll have plenty of time to focus your attention on one or two classes.  I took an intercession class my freshman year and stayed in Scranton for every other intercession to work.  Aside from being a good time to catch up on credits and/or work, intercession is always a fun time. 

If you qualify for work-study, try and find a job you could work to keep some extra cash in your pocket throughout college.  Most work-study jobs are minimum wage and only a few hours a week, but any extra cash for a poor college student goes a long way.  I found a work-study job beginning of my junior year through one of my housemates in the history department; it’s helped my wallet over the past two years. 

If you have the funds to do it, I highly recommend taking a travel course during intercession or summer, or studying abroad for a semester.  I really wanted to study abroad in Australia, but it never ended up working out.  Everyone I know who has studied abroad said it was one of the most amazing experiences of their lives.  I was still fortunate enough to take a travel course my freshman year during intercession.  I took a tropical biology class; two weeks of class were spent on campus and the last two weeks were spent in Costa Rica and Panama.  The entire trip was one of the best times of my life and I’m very fortunate to have had such an eye opening experience. 

Make sure to save all your class notes and assignments even if you’re finished with the class and think you’ll never need that information again.  You never know when you’ll want to refer back to something or refresh your memory.  Especially if you want to apply to graduate school, your class notes will help you a lot when studying for the psychology subject part of the GRE’s. 

Get involved in clubs to help boost your resume.  I wish I had been more involved throughout my four years here.  I joined mountain sports club and photography club for about a year but then got lazy and stopped participating in their events.  As a former photography major, I wish I had joined the Aquinas and the school yearbook committee to add variety to my resume.  Also, take advantage of any other services offered, like the gym, career services, the writing center, and the wellness center, to name a few.  After you graduate you’ll have to pay for most of these services, so enjoy it while it lasts!

Most importantly, remember to have fun because these truly are the best four years of your life and once graduation rolls around, you’ll have no idea where the time went. 

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Dear Incoming Freshman,

            Congratulations on making the decision to be a psychology major! The road ahead of you seems long now but trust me, it is going to go by faster than you think. I am going to be completely honest and tell you that you may think you know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, but that will most likely change. Be accepting of a change of plans! It is perfectly acceptable to take some time to really think about what it is you want to do.  I myself did not make a decision until my junior year; some of my classmates were still thinking about what they wanted to do into their senior year.

My advice to you is to ask questions. Start with a faculty member in the psychology department. Use Scranton’s website to learn a little bit about the faculty members and what their interests are. If you come across someone whose interests you think match yours somewhat, reach out to them and see if you can set up a meeting to talk about how they got into the field they did. Do some research on your own as well. If you get some free time, take a minute and Google “careers in psychology” (or “careers in ____” if you’re curious about other fields). See what you can find. You may discover that there is a career path in psychology that you never knew about that actually suits your interests really well. You might also discover that counseling or education is more up your alley.

If you decide that some branch of psychology is definitely for you, then my next bit of advice is to get involved in the psychology department. Begin asking faculty members about Teaching Assistant positions for their courses. The TA experience is pretty cool, and not many other institutions offer such an experience. It is a great way to accomplish a couple of things – you’ll get to know the professor better (which will be beneficial if you need letters of recommendation for graduate school or references for a job), you’ll get to learn a little bit about what it is like to plan a college course, and you’ll also get to know some other psychology students who are taking the class you TA for or who are TAs for other courses. This experience can also help you decide if teaching at the college level is something that interests you. Another way to get involved in the department is through Research Assistant positions with professors. These positions allow you to help professors decide what they want to study next as well as how they will go about doing so. If you can be one professor’s RA for a year, you will most likely be able to see the entire process of how a study is organized and run. You can even approach professors with your own ideas for studies. The Psychology Club is a great way to get to know other psychology majors. Getting to know these other students can be helpful when it comes time to make decisions about your life. Other people in your major are great resources because they may have a better understanding of something you are experiencing, such as a difficult assignment in a class they previously took or frustration due to extensive graduate school applications.

            In terms of advice regarding your college experience in general, be open to new experiences and new people. Being a first-year student is without a doubt tough; I had my share of high and low moments. The most important thing I realized was that sometimes you need to give things a chance, and then you’ll find your niche. Just like it may take some time to figure out what you want to do with your life, it will also take time to find your friends. I did not become close with the person I consider my best friend until my sophomore year. Even during my senior year I have been making new friends and establishing new relationships. If you think that being at this particular school is not for you, talk to someone about it. The Counseling Center can be really helpful with a dilemma like that. You might automatically think that going to the Counseling Center means you have serious mental problems, but it doesn’t! The counselors are there for you to assist you with any problems you might face as a college student; nothing is too small to them. I strongly encourage making an appointment to talk to someone if you feel like you need some serious advice.

            My final piece of advice is to enjoy your four years. Focusing on academics is without a doubt important; it is what you came to college for in the first place! However, it is also important to develop relationships with your peers and fit in some fun once you take care of your schoolwork. I will end with a quote by Robert Southwell, S.J. that you will find on the side of the DeNaples Center: “Not where I breathe but where I love, I live.”

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Dear Psychology Freshman,

Congratulations on choosing to attend the University of Scranton! Freshman year is an exciting time. In reflecting upon the last four year I’ve spent at Scranton, I’ve come up with some advice for you as you begin your college experience.

Get involved! Whether it is within the psych department or around campus (I’d recommend both) find something you enjoy and stick with it! It might be intimidating to join a club at first, but if you’re interested in something – do something about it. Friends from your floor don’t have the same interest? Join a club and make more friends doing it. Everyone freshmen year is looking for new friends and new things to try so don’t be shy. Scranton has a lot of clubs and activities to get involved in and that can be overwhelming. Don’t try to do everything because you won’t have time. Find a few things you enjoy and stick with it.

Speak up in class! The transition from high school to college can make it intimidating to speak up in class. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or add comments to a lecture. You’ll learn more, and it will make class more interesting. Your professors are there to help you and teach you.

Take advantage of your professors’ office hours. Professors have office hours so that they can help you. Most professors, especially those in the psych department will be happy you stopped by. In my experience, if you speak up and form relationships with professors more opportunities such as TAing or doing research will be available to you. Plus, think about those recommendations that you will need down the road. Becoming close with your professors and expressing your interests will help you when it comes to applying to grad school or getting a job in the future.

I have found that the key to success in many courses is to get organized and not procrastinate. I cannot stress this enough. It’s easy to procrastinate when there are so many things going around you, especially because your friends are right down the hall. If you spend the time to get organized you can avoid staying up until 5 am writing that term paper that is due the next morning when you also have a test to study for that same afternoon. It’s sometimes difficult to stay focused and organized, but it will help keep you from stressing out.

                Stay calm when registering for classes. It’s easy to get stressed out while waiting for your registration time. Be prepared with other options in case a class you want is full. Sometimes classes will have spots become available over summer and intersession, so keep checking. Ask another psych student who is a year older than you for advice on choosing which courses to take. Being involved in psych club or hanging out in AMH will help you meet students from other years in the program. 

Plan out what courses you want to take throughout your time at Scranton. The psych major gives you a lot of space for free electives and if you use these courses wisely you can add a minor, concentration or maybe even a double major. If you plan out when you need to take what courses you will have a better idea of how much work you can take on. I would recommend taking your philosophy and theology courses freshmen or sophomore year. Save taking most of your humanities courses until junior or senior year when you have better registration times and can take easier, more interesting courses. Try and take your core 8 psychology courses early because they prepare you for more advanced classes and help if you wind up taking the GRE.

Have you ever wanted to travel or learn about another culture? Why not study abroad? I cannot recommend this experience enough. It is unlikely that you will ever have the opportunity to live and study in another country for 4-6 months again. I studied abroad in Spain and was able to add a Spanish minor and travel around Europe for a semester. If you plan your course schedule out right, you will have plenty of time to experience studying abroad. Many students hesitate to study abroad because they don’t want to miss out on parties in Scranton. Think about it, while your friends at Scranton are at a keg party in a basement, you can be on top of the Eiffel Tower or swimming in the Great Barrier Reef. Study abroad isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever considered it or wanted to travel, now is the time. If you can’t commit to going abroad for a whole semester consider studying abroad over intersession or the summer. If you’re interested in service, ISP is a great program where you get to travel as well!

People often say that college will be the best four years of your life. In many cases, they’re right. Be open to new experiences and opportunities. Step outside your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to meet new people. One of the most difficult things will be finding a balance between having fun and studying. While I encourage having fun with friends and being active, don’t forget the real reason why you are here.

I know this is a lot of advice, but what it all comes down to is, study hard, get involved, and remember to have fun.

Good Luck!


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Dear Incoming Psychology First Year Student,

How do I start this letter? Oh, yes. Welcome to the beginning of your life after high school. It's your journey to becoming a real adult. I know, that idea sounds corny. But it's a long road and it right starts now. If you are one of the types that chose what you wanted to major in before you even thought about what college you wanted to go to, that's great. If not, it's alright. You will figure out what you want to do with your life. I promise you.

I happen to be in both of these categories. Psychology was not my major when I first started at the University of Scranton. When I first started here, I wanted to be a doctor. I didn't know how I'd get there or which major I wanted to choose. I knew that I didn't want to go into nursing, even though my mother insisted that I did. I could have probably been a great nurse. But that's what my mother wanted. I knew I wouldn't be happy becoming a nurse. I wanted to be different from the rest of my family. And I wanted to be better. Not that I think nursing is easy, because it's not. It's probably one of the most rigorous majors at this school, just ask one of them. They have it kind of rough. But, I digress.

I also knew that I didn't want to be a biology major either. I looked at biology classes as a necessary evil, a means to an end to get into medical school. Those were not my favorite classes. And when I came here in 2008, about half of my class at the time, were biology majors. Most of us, did not stay biology majors. I was "technically" an undeclared major as a freshman. But really, I felt like a bio major with my 18 credits. I thought the schoolwork would never end. And somehow, aside from all the schoolwork, I had to figure out how to make friends, do laundry, feed myself, and get involved on campus among other things.

It took me until my second semester of my freshman year to take a psychology course. Actually, we were required to take Intro to Psychology as a social behavioral science. Unless, of course, you're a psychology major. It's just required for the major. Anyway, I took the class and I actually liked it. I liked it so much that when I picked out my major, I ended up choosing neuroscience as a major, with pre-med as my concentration. It combined some of the biology classes with psychology classes.

I really did like neuroscience. I liked learning about how the brain works and why we behave the way we do.  I, unfortunately, was trying to play catch up so I could keep up with the rest of my class and graduate on time. I thought it would be the fastest way to catch up and go on to med school. Graduating on time didn't happen the way I planned. Graduating at all was a miracle in itself. Again, I digress.

Sophomore year, I finally had enough. I felt like I was torturing myself. I was so unhappy with my grades. I tried hard. I studied all the time. I didn't go out to party. I had no social life. I was in my room or on the floor lounge all the time, studying and being buried under schoolwork. I was absolutely miserable and I cried pretty much all the time, that fall semester. I felt  like a failure and I finally did accept the fact that med school was not for me. It just took me a while to realize that.

So I dropped the biology and the pre-med concentration and went straight psychology as a major. And then, I ended up with counseling and human services as a minor. I don't know exactly what I'll do with my major and minor yet (except work for the time being), but after spending my years here, I know I'm better prepared when I graduate and leave, than when I came.

College isn't just about grades. It's about the people who you surround yourself with, so do yourself a favor and get involved. Join choir or the growing number of a cappella groups or CHEW or USPB (you'll find out what those things are soon enough). You can become a Royal Ambassador or a PACT presenter. Volunteer, go on a retreat, get an internship, or do something the will change your life as well as someone else. Meet new people. Talk to your professors. Get out of your comfort zone. Do all of the above, if you want. Don't just study, do something to make your college experience worthwhile. Make friends while you're at it. Some of the most important ones will be there for you in your best and worst of times. And make sure you keep the honest ones around. The ones that want to change you for the worst aren't really your friends.

My point is that college isn’t just about grades. It’s about finding yourself and what makes you happy, as cliché as that sounds. So I hope for however long you’re here, that you enjoy your time here. Good luck in all your endeavors.

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Dear freshman,

In the next four years, your view of the human mind is about to be changed forever.

Thanks to the professors of the psychology department here at the University of Scranton, I have realized that the human mind is more complicated than I had ever imagined. I have also found that a lot of what goes on in the human mind can be explained. The best part is that when a teacher who loves the subject explains it, it can also be learned.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed my experience as a University of Scranton psychology student. I have learned so much from my professors and my peers and have a completely different worldview than I did before I came here. Sure some of the classes were hard, but all of them were interesting. Everything that I have learned in this program will carry over into the real world. So, if that is what you are looking for, then you picked the right major.

My best advice for you regarding the next four years of your life is to forget everything that you think you know. Because you are going to learn new things, meet new people, experience life completely differently, and the way you think about everything is going to change anyway.

I know this letter is short, but so is life. So take from it what you can and enjoy.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Student,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton’s Psychology Department! I hope you are excited to learn more about psychology and eager to meet the wonderful faculty and fellow psychology majors. I hope this letter helps you and guides you throughout your student career at The U, and I hope that my experiences and advice leave you with a more confident and enthusiastic attitude about the field of psychology.

            When I first entered The University of Scranton, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. As an avid lover of science, I thought that I would choose exercise science or biology as my field of study.  It only took one introductory biology course to change my mind. I was placed into an introductory psychology course (Fundamentals of Psychology) and I absolutely loved it. I thought that it was the perfect amount of science, and I loved that it was a helping profession. My strong interest in the subject led me to decide that I wanted to major in it. I have not second-guessed my decision since, nor was I nervous about choosing it to be my major.  It was the perfect fit. I hope that you feel that sense of security too after you take the intro course.

            Throughout your time at Scranton I’m sure you will need some advice from your advisor, faculty, and other students. After completing the psychology curriculum, I am happy to give you my advice as you continue your college education. My first piece of advice is to get your major courses completed first. I loaded my schedule with my required psychology courses each semester, and senior year was much easier for me and I felt much more prepared. Do not pile an overwhelming amount of classes in one semester, but keep in mind that the more you get out of the way early the less you have to worry about later.

            Another bit of advice is to get to know the faculty. The psychology professors at Scranton are awesome, and they want you to stop by their offices and ask questions or make comments. I have formed bonds with a majority of the professors in the psychology department, and many of them have helped me immensely throughout my college career. It is also important to get to know them because if you want to apply for graduate school they can give you references. Every time I enter the psychology department I feel welcomed, and it makes me feel good when I see that professors remember me and know me by name. Don’t be shy!

            Furthermore, ask questions and get involved. If you major in psychology you should love the field of psychology and want to learn as much about it as you can. If you are confused about something, ask about it! You cannot be shy especially if you are going into a helping profession. Remember, no question is a stupid question and teachers will acknowledge your participation. Also, I recommend that you become a member of the psych club or be a teaching assistant. It not only looks good on your resume, but it also further assimilates you into the psychology department. It also might be a good idea to become a research assistant or gain some sort of hands on experience. I realized that I learned the most through my teaching assistantship and my field experience.

            One thing that I regret avoiding during my college career is asking more about future professions in psychology. I felt unprepared for graduate school and confused about what I wanted to do as a future professional. The psychology department is not completely at fault; I should have asked more questions about it. When you take junior and senior seminar classes pay attention, ask questions, and take it seriously. There are countless opportunities available for psychology majors, but you have to research how to be eligible for those opportunities. Try to get a sense of what area of psychology you are most interested in and research it. Know what schools are out there that offer further education on your desired subject and make sure you gain a lot of experience. Do not wait until the last minute to make decisions because that is what I did and now I’m taking longer to figure out what I want to do.

            I hope you found this note to be helpful and I did not intend to stress you out or scare you off. I think that as long as you love psychology, you will love your time at Scranton as a psychology major. I suggest looking into a counseling minor too! I took a few counseling courses and they were some of my favorite courses. Anyway, have a great four years at Scranton and I hope you love it as much as me.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Student,

            I could only wish to be back in the seat you’re in today. Of the 21 years I have been alive I can without a doubt say college has been the best years of my life. In those four short years I discovered who I was, what I wanted to be, and made some amazing friends along the way. I hope when you are in my position you look back at your college years and smile, but for the time being, here is my advice to you.

            First, get involved! The psychology department has many opportunities to get involved such as clubs, research, and volunteer opportunities. The major clubs are the Psychology Club, APSSC, and Psi Chi. Both the Psychology Club and APSSC occasionally get guest speakers in the field of psychology to come and talk about their experience. They both also participate in community service such as the Thanksgiving food drive and Kids Judge Neuroscience. Kids Judge Neuroscience is one of my favorite events (even though it starts at 8am). Girl Scouts come to campus and judge Behavioral Neuroscience student’s projects. It’s fun to teach the Girl Scouts and watch them get excited with each project. This past year, APSSC had an undergraduate research day where students had the opportunity to talk about the different research that have done with various professors. This gave students who are not involved with research yet to get an idea of who they would want to work with and what topics they would be interested in. You might thing, getting involved with research would be difficult, when honestly all you need to do is ask a professor. As long as you have good grades in Research Methods, and Statistics almost any professor would be happy to add you to their research team. As for volunteer opportunities, the course Field Experience was one of my favorite courses. Students in this course get the opportunity to have a practicum and experience the clinical aspect of psychology first hand.

            Don’t make the mistake of only getting involved with the psychology department. Being well rounded is an important aspect of experiencing college. There are some amazing clubs on campus you could get involved with, literally there’s something for everyone. From fun clubs like photography club and mountain sports club to clubs with a cause like Colleges Against Cancer to sports like Ultimate Frisbee. Aside from clubs there are also retreats. Retreats were one of my favorite experiences of college. Not only did I go on some but I was also given the opportunity of leading two. I met some of my closest friends by going on retreats. I was hesitant at first but never be afraid to be put out of your comfort zone. You might discover something about yourself you did not know before.

            Second, and I can’t stress this enough, make a healthy group of friends. These are the people you will turn to for the good and the bad. They are your new support group. Having a good group of friends can change a bad college experience to a good one. I would not have been about to survive college without the group of friends that I have. That being said, do not think you are stuck with the people you meet freshman year. Just because you lived on the same floor does not mean you are meant to be best friends. Like I said before I met my closest friends on retreats through the university.

            Third, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The University of Scranton is filled with people that are willing to help you. If it’s something small like proofreading your paper go to the CTLE, or something major like stress management or personal problems go to the counseling center. There is a helping hand everywhere you go. As the knowledgeable Albus Dumbledore once said “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

            Finally, and probably most importantly, have fun! Four years may seem like a long time span but it seems like yesterday I was moving into GLM meeting my roommate for the first time. I’m not saying ignore your school work, but make time to have fun with your friends. Go out on the weekend or stay in eating Chinese food while watching a movie. College is not only about school work and going to class, what makes college special is the people you spend it with and the memories you make with those people.

            As you start this new chapter in your life I hope you keep these four pieces of advice in mind. Remember to get involved, make a good group of friends, ask for help when needed, and have fun. I hope your college experience is everything you imagined it will be. One bonus piece of advice, never give up, you can achieve anything you set your mind too. I’m going to leave you with something my mom told me growing up and still tells me in times of what feels like complete hopelessness, “There is no such thing as ‘I can’t do it’, there is only ‘I don’t want to’” (it sounds better in Greek).

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Dear Incoming Psychology Freshmen,

            Congratulations and welcome to the University of Scranton. Over the next four years you will go through many changes, some good and some bad; you will make friends with some of the best people that you will ever meet; you will discover things about yourself that you never would have imagined. The next four years will feel like a lifetime, but will fly by and be over before you know it. College can be one of the best experiences of your life, it just depends how you decide to spend the next four years.

            College is a new playing field and there is a heightened sense of responsibility that differs from high school. You are now considered an adult and you are responsible for the quality of your education. You must make the decision if you are going to explore new interests, if you are going to attend your lectures, if you are going to seek help from professors and campus-wide professionals. I urge you to make the most of your college career. Make the most of your classes, choose courses that spark your interests, be open to new teaching styles, and be willing to explore new fields and disciplines.

By leaving my comfort zone and challenging myself in the academic setting, I was able to expand my knowledge and discover topics that I want to continue to study for the rest of my life. When I began my college career, I started as a math major. It was something that I succeeded at in high school and thought that because I was good at it, I wanted to continue on with the discipline. Halfway through the semester, I discovered that I was unsatisfied with my courses and math curriculum. I knew that I needed to make a change and that I needed to discover what the next step would be, on my own. My parents were not happy with my major change, but in the end I knew that I needed to make changes for myself.

            Get to know your academic advisor, he or she will be a great asset over the next four years. Your advisor will help you chose courses and plan out your schedule; they know the requirements and have a lot of experience. Listen to their opinions. When the time comes they will assist you in organizing your post-graduation plans. Also, get to know your professors, you will thank yourself later. The faculty members in this department are always willing to talk and love to hear your thoughts. If something sparks an interest in class bring it up to your professor at the end of class. Take advantage of office hours if you're struggling in a class. They are made for that specific purpose.

As a psychology major, I have discovered many things about myself. I've learned that even when times are tough and I don't think that I can pull through all of the work, I am able to push through and come out a champion. I've learned to set attainable goals, as well as long term goals, that have kept me motivated during the past four years. Even if they are goals like acing your next test or getting an A in a course that really challenges you, goals are important. They helped me stay on track and remember what I am aiming for. Right now, it’s not really about what your major is, it’s about building a strong foundation for the next four years.

I urge you to become involved in the endless opportunities that are offered at this school. You can try out something new or join a club that you already have been a part of. Joining clubs and participating in various events is a great way to meet new people and expand your interests over the next four years. Campus activities are a great way to get involved in the university community. If you play an important role in any of these activities or even make a significant contribution, they are great things to put on your resume or CV.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the next four years and make some of the greatest friends you will ever have. Some of the on-campus activities may sound cheesy, but most of the time they are a great time. Encourage your friends to join you at a floor programming event or a USPB movie night or day trip. Having a good time in college not all about the partying and drinking, so don’t feel pressured. Not everyone is into that and it’s okay. The school offers some great alternatives and if you can get your friends to come, your group can make it the best time in the world.

This letter may seem overwhelming right at this moment and I understand how you may be feeling. But you should take comfort in knowing that almost everyone feels the same way, even if they don’t say it. Over the next four years, this school will become your second home, whether you like it or not. Scranton is a place where people can find their truest selves. Scranton brings out the best in everybody and you are no exception. Enjoy, embrace, and discover all of the possibilities that this place has to offer. Take advantage of the opportunities that the school and this department have to offer.

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(#51)

Dear Incoming Psychology Majors,

I am writing this letter as a graduating senior psychology major of the Class of 2016. I have learned a lot from my four years of college here and I am going to provide you with my experience and some advice that I wish I knew in pursuing higher education. These experiences can be easily summarized into three pieces of advice.

1.  Do not be afraid if you have not figured out what you want to do with your life.

I do not know who thought it was a good idea to force teenagers and young adults to plan out their entire lives as if they have the experience to know what would bring them the most happiness but it is what it is. I started out as a Neuroscience major (ambitious, I know) but about half way through my freshman year I felt like neuroscience wasn’t for me so I switched to a Biology major with a Psychology minor. I stuck with this until the second semester of my sophomore year then I switched majors once again to a Psychology major with a biology minor. It took me about 2 years to figure out what direction I wanted my life to go and I’m still figuring it out but I’m telling you that this is a difficult decision with no right answer (also get use to there being no right answers to questions… it’s really frustrating).

2.  Be active in this community

Yes, college is a community, albeit a strange one, but nevertheless embrace it for it is your community for the next few years. There will be a plethora of clubs to join, events either hosted by your Resident Assistant (RA), free concerts at the Houlihan-McLean Center, retreats, etc., that you should take part in it. As trombone player and a tenor in the concert choir in The University of Scranton’s Concert Band and Choir, I am a little biased towards Performance Music so I will tell you to that you should definitely go to the free concerts the occur practically weekly. However, there are literally thousands of things to do on campus that you can be a part of and they will better your life. Classes can get you down every now and again but getting involved can boost your mood, help you meet friends (who by the way are basically friends for life) and is overall an escape from the daily minutiae of academia. There is one caveat though: There is a such thing as being too involved. Have fun with reason.

3.  One bad grade is not the end of the world

College is not just a test of your test-taking, retention skills, it’s a test of your mental fortitude. The true test of college is seeing how many times you can be pushed to the limit or knocked down and still find a reason to get up and keep moving. I have gotten a few bad grades on exams, papers or quizzes and I have found that the best thing to do is to realize that you messed up, cry for a little bit, and change your approach to that class. Get a tutor, don’t procrastinate and do not be afraid to ask for help. Also, try not to dwell on the grade; This does not mean forget it ever happened, just keep it in the back of your mind. Learn from the mistake and move forward.

            With that, I wish you the best of luck. I would love to end this letter by saying things will get easier but why lie. From here on out things are going to get more complicated and more difficult but it will not be the end of the world. Just stay true to yourself, focus on your classes and don’t forget to have fun every now and again. Thank you for reading.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome to the greatest and most fun major at this University! I am certain that you will enjoy the courses offered within this major, and you’ll get to try out a variety of electives within and outside of psychology as well. Take advantage of the courses that you think might interest you! During my freshman year I thought that psychological disorders were fascinating from what I knew about them so I enrolled in Abnormal Psychology and absolutely fell in love with psychology. Also, if you think that you want to pursue a career within psychology, don’t be afraid to take a field experience course to intern somewhere! I realized in the Abnormal Psychology course that I am fascinated by addiction and enrolled in the Field Experience course to see if I would enjoy working at an addiction treatment agency as much as I thought I would!

One of the best things about this school and the psychology department is that you are offered so many opportunities to explore your interests both academically and otherwise. You can join academic and non-academic clubs, complete an internship, take elective courses that interest you, serve as a teaching assistant for a faculty member, join honor societies, be a part of a research team, and other things of the like. I can say from my own experiences that becoming involved on campus outside of academics, though demanding, is incredibly rewarding and helps you to get the most out of your college experience.

 I had the fantastic opportunity of working as an intern, being a part of the Clinical Health Psychology Research Lab, serving as a president for one of the psychology clubs, being a teaching assistant for the fundamentals of psychology course, and taking a plethora of courses that have not only increased my knowledge of psychology but made me passionate about my education. Each of these opportunities have helped me to grow personally and professionally as well as improve my resume and I have enjoyed all of them. If you are interested in going to graduate school for psychology, I highly recommend that you join a research lab. Through that experience you will learn skills that can be carried on into your graduate studies, not to mention most psychology programs require undergraduate experience in research. Talk to different faculty members about their past and current research and apply to a few labs that interest you the most! Another advantage of being on a research team is that the faculty member that you work with might be one of the people that you ask for a letter of recommendation or to be a reference in a job application when you’re making plans for after college, so it is important to make connections with faculty members.

In my experience of being a teaching assistant I learned a lot about myself professionally and improved upon my ability to work with others, which are also important skills to take with you after graduation. Faculty members for whom you serve as a teaching assistant are also excellent people to ask to write letters of recommendation. Similarly, my internship provided many opportunities to grow personally and professionally, as well as add clinical experience to my resume. The agency that I interned at offered me a full-time position after this semester is over which is an opportunity I would not have had if I did not sign up for the Field Experience in a Clinical Setting course. The bottom line is that you never know what opportunities could present themselves if you open yourself up to new and sometimes intimidating experiences!

My biggest piece of advice is to dive into whatever opportunities you are given and make the most of your short time here at the University! One regret that I have is not looking sooner into what career I would like to pursue after graduation. I have always known, as you might too, that I wanted to help people and that a degree in psychology would set me up for an overwhelming amount of careers in which I could do that. However, I took my time in deciding what exactly I wanted to go to graduate school for and if I wanted to pursue a masters or doctoral degree first. My advice to you is to take charge of your future and start thinking about what you might want your next step to be right away. Faculty members are highly knowledgeable of the career possibilities for undergraduate psychology majors and can offer advice that is not only helpful in pointing you in a direction but also honest and realistic. In addition, you should absolutely take advantage of faculty office hours. The professors that I’ve gone to were always more than willing to help me with assignments or give me advice about anything they can. Faculty members often spend their office hours sitting and waiting for students to visit, so get to know them and create professional connections!  

The four years go by quickly and before you know it you will be in your last semester here at the University so don’t wait to make the most of your time here! I wish you all of the best in your future endeavors.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I write this letter the day before my last week as an student at the University of Scranton, and as I sit in the library, I find myself reminiscing over the last several years I’ve spent here. I remember oh so well the anxiety and excitement I felt when I was in your shoes, fresh out of high-school, and ready to start a new chapter in my life. Little did I know about the experiences I would actually have, or that the next few years wouldn’t go exactly as planned.

I’m a twenty-three year old, fifth-year senior, who spent three semesters as a part-time student. Though that may not be the stereotypical picture of the American college experience, I’m okay with it. My mother passed away the winter of my freshman year, causing me to go through a two year period where I didn’t know exactly who I was, what I wanted to do with my life, or where I wanted to be. I switched majors (from pre-med neuroscience to psychology), changed jobs, and dropped my credit load to below the standard twelve, in order to help me get myself to where I needed to be. None of those things were within my family’s wishes. But I did them anyway.

Therein lies my first piece of advice. You will grow and change as a person throughout the next four or five years, and you will likely experience some hardships. Because of that, you need to do what’s right for you, even if others may not think it’s the smartest choice. Anything from class choice, to changing majors, to taking a semester off to backpack across Europe, to breaking up with your significant other. You’ll learn during these next years who you really are, and you’ll learn what’s right for you to do in your life. So when you know, just do it. There may be backlash, but that’ll only strengthen your experiences when you know you made the right choice.

Secondly, you will make mistakes. You will make choices and decisions that seem fine at the time, only to realize later that you completely screwed up. That’s okay. These years are about making mistakes, and learning from them. Accepting the consequences of your own actions is part of becoming an adult. When you mess up, know it’s not the end of the world, even though it may feel that way at the time. You will find a way to make it better, or at least find it in yourself to work through it. When you’re in my shoes, reflecting on your college career, I hope you’re proud of how you handled your mistakes.

Next, realize that life goes by quickly, and that all experiences are important. Finding a balance between school life and activities outside of school is a necessity. Making friends and having social, fun experiences should be an integral part of your college experience, but gaining knowledge and bettering yourself intellectually are things that will last with you for a lifetime. Last semester I took a spontaneous trip to Philadelphia with friends to go to a concert on a Sunday, when I had to be back on campus the next day for my eleven o’clock class. Though I definitely struggled through that Monday, it was worth it. I had all of my work done early, which allowed me to make that trip. Writing papers several days before they are due, or studying periodically for an exam, instead of putting them off to the last minute, may just be the things that allow you to have the last-minute-trip-to-the-city experiences.

As for in-school experiences, I suggest you love what you’re learning. Of course, you’re going to have classes that you can’t stand and find pointless, and you’ll have professors who get under your skin and who treat you as inferiors. If all of your courses are like that, though, you may be on the wrong path. If you’re not taking classes where you love learning the material, and can have relationships with the professors, why would you want to be involved with that in your career for the rest of your life? When I changed majors and declared a concentration, I felt so much more at home in my educational life. I enjoyed much of the material. I formed relationships with professors. I was a teaching assistant. I did research. I found my niche. And I hope you do the same.

 Signed,

A graduating senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I am sure you have heard this cliché a thousand times already, but the next four years of your life could very well be the best four years of your life. During your time here at the University of Scranton, you will change and grow as a person more than you can possibly imagine. However, it is up to you to determine in what ways you will change and how much you will grow. These things will be determined by the decisions you make over the next for years, such as how much effort you decide to put into schoolwork, which classes you decide to take, the extracurricular activities you choose to participate in, and how willing you are to branch out and try to make new friends. While at times you may feel overwhelmed by the challenges or unsure about your decisions, by the end of your time here at Scranton you will be more than happy with yourself if you just dedicate yourself to your school work and strive to overcome any fears or doubts that you may have.

            Undoubtedly the most important aspect of your time at Scranton will be your academic experience. While I cannot honestly sit here and tell you that your going to have a blast staying up late to write burdensome research papers or to study for intimidating finals, I can honestly say that the education you will receive from the University of Scranton, and the psychology department in particular, will be just as rewarding as it is demanding. In my experience, the majority of classes here at Scranton are interesting and fulfilling, and the majority of professors are fair, helpful, and genuinely caring. However, you will have to be clever in how you organize your next-semester’s schedule during registration in order to avoid some less desirable professors or unnecessarily demanding general education courses.

            In regards to the psychology department specifically, I believe you will be more than happy with the staff, course selection, and extracurricular opportunities (including clubs, research opportunities, and practicum/internship opportunities). The department offers a wide variety of courses, covering nearly every subfield of psychology from clinical psychology to behavioral neuroscience to evolutionary psychology. While I have not had a class with every professor in the department, all of the ones I did have a class with did their best to make class interesting and always found time to help their students. Also, in my experience and from what I have heard from other psychology majors, all of the professors in the department make for excellent, well-informed, and dedicated academic advisors. Although a number of the courses you will take in the department will prove to be fairly demanding, the hard work you put in will make getting the grade you were aiming for all the more satisfying.

            Well, I think I have said enough about academics, so it is time to talk about what will ultimately make your experience at this university an enjoyable one: extracurricular and social activities. Scranton offers an absurd variety of clubs, organizations, activities, sports, and events for students with all different kinds of interests and hobbies. I know that last sentence sounds like something you would see in a cheesy college brochure, but it actually is true. Also, I know that the challenge of having to make new friends may seems daunting to some, however, it will prove to be a lot easier than you think. The reason why: everybody else is also looking to make new friends. As soon as you realize this, you will find that you do not have to be the most gregarious or extroverted person in the world to form close friendships with a lot of people that will endure for a life time (I know that was another cheesy college brochure line, but again it is actually true).

            All in all, you should have no reason to believe that your time at the University of Scranton will be anything less than some of the best years of your life. In fact, I did not even plan on this letter being so overwhelmingly positive until I sat down and realized what a great time I have had here over the last four years. So great, in fact, that I am having a slight panic attack at the realization that it is over for me. However, one thing that is helping me reconcile with this sad truth is that I honestly believe that I could not have made a better choice than to attend this school, and I believe that you will be thinking the same thing four years from now.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on entering the next chapter of your life. You have made a great decision in coming to the University of Scranton. As a psychology major, I can also attest to the fact that you will have a great time and learn a lot as a result of selecting this major. The psychology faculty members are all extremely helpful and understanding, so never hesitate to ask them for help or to simply befriend them.

            My two favorite psychology courses that I highly recommend are Evolutionary Psychology and Cognitive Psychology. Taking Evolutionary taught me a lot about why myself and the people around me behave, look, and think the way we do. The course was also very entertaining and relatable because discussions included topics such as romantic attraction, Tinder, and pop culture. Cognitive Psychology was a great course because the professor performed cognitive tests on the class in order to exemplify how the tests are done on participants and clients in real life. It was also an enlightening course because it explained the science behind emotions, mental disorders, and the simple mechanics of the brain in general.

            While most of the psychology courses I have taken have been greatly enjoyable, I did not enjoy Sensation and Perception. I took this course as one of my psychology electives and I struggled to engage in the material. I am not trying to deter you from taking this course, but make sure that you take courses with topics that genuinely interest you. While other people did enjoy Sensation and Perception I did not personally find it interesting and, therefore, it was an extremely challenging course to get through. The lesson I learned from this course is to take classes that genuinely spark your interest and that you want to take out of curiosity, not simply because you need a certain amount of classes and will fill them with whatever class is open at the time. The University of Scranton has a large array of courses and, therefore, you should always be able to find an entire semester filled with classes that intrigue you.

            As a psychology major, you will quickly come to realize that psychology professors give a lot of quizzes. Some professors use weekly quizzes instead of giving any exams while other professors use a combination of both exams and quizzes. My biggest piece of advice is to study for these quizzes and not “wing” them. I have fallen victim to that mentality in the past and it causes an unnecessary amount of stress that can easily be avoided by putting in the necessary hour of effort each week to study. Also, never be afraid to ask a professor for extra help and to attend his or her office hours. Professors can sometimes seem intimidating but they really are there to help you in any way that they can. Office hours also provide a great opportunity to form a personal relationship with professors and advisors that can later help with getting letters of recommendation or general advice about life and college.

            Overall, I am sure that you will enjoy the University of Scranton as much as I did, both socially and academically. Just remember to put in the work necessary in each of your classes, even if it becomes tedious or stressful at times. Also, take courses that you want to take rather than courses that you could or should take simply to check off requirements on your CAPP sheet. Most of all, enjoy your four years here and let this school, the professors, and the friends you make teach you valuable lessons about yourself and life in general. The University of Scranton is an extremely special place and I am thrilled that you are embarking on your new adventure as a part of the Scranton family.

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(#56)


Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on being accepted to the University of Scranton! And more importantly, congratulations on choosing to attend the best university. I am extremely excited that you are able to live out the next four years at a place I am so proud to call my forever home.

            Psychology at the University of Scranton is a great major to select. I am a different then most psychology major students in that I will not be applying for jobs or attending a psychology or counseling graduate program after graduation. I am attending Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus for Physician Assistant graduate school. I felt that a psychology curriculum prepared me well to holistically treat patients and be aware of the whole person. Psychology is extremely flexible and therefore allows one to make whatever they want out of it. Some students enjoy research, some enjoy clinical experience, and are involved in different clubs, organizations, or honors societies. Some students choose to double major, concentrate, or have multiple minors. So decide what you are interested in, and spread your horizons.

I thoroughly enjoyed my psychology classes; a few of my favorite classes are Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Health Psychology. Take classes that are interesting and relevant to your future career goals. Health Psychology and Sports & Exercise Psychology directly applied to my future profession as a physician assistant, interested in specializing in sports medicine. I have taken more information away from these classes then I have in classes like General Biology, Organic Chemistry I, and Genetics, which are all prerequisites for my graduate program.

            Take general education classes and free electives that you are interested in and can relate back to your future goals. I took HIV/AIDS as my cultural diversity elective, Medical Ethics as my philosophy elective, and all my free electives were science courses that I needed as prerequisites for Physician Assistant graduate school. You or your parents are paying a lot of money for you to go to the University of Scranton, therefore take classes outside of Psychology that will enhance your knowledge of the world. You are here to get an education, so avoid taking all easy general electives. My roommate is currently in Geography and is baffled by how little she knew before the course and how much she knows now. A friend of mine is an Exercise Science major, attending graduate school to receive his Doctorate in Physical Therapy and has taken Constitutional Law I and II as his free electives.

Involve yourself in a few clubs that you have a strong interest in rather then being involved in everything on campus. I was involved in the Psychology Club, Health Professions Organization, and I was the secretary for the Pre-Physician Assistant Club. I was also part of the Relay for Life Committee for three years and held three Relay events that were all extremely successful. Last summer, I traveled with the International Service Program, run through Campus Ministries, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a construction and medical-based service trip with ten University of Scranton students and two University of Scranton faculty members. This trip is one my fondest memories of Scranton and I created a group of friends that resemble a family. Pick to be involved and take classes that you are truly interested in to better shape your time here at the University of Scranton.

            It is important to get involved in research, clinical experience, or teaching assistantship at the University of Scranton. I was a teaching assistant for Cognitive Psychology and participated in my own clinical experience through shadowing PAs and volunteering medical attention in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All of these activities not only prepare you for graduate school or a future job, but also help you discover what you are really interested in and develop important life skills.

            Study hard throughout the year, not just finals week. Some teachers give weekly quizzes, some teachers have a midterm and final. No matter a professor’s testing style, keep on top of your work throughout the entire duration of the year.

Get to know your professors, both within your major and in your general courses. They not only give excellent advice, but also all have different backgrounds, clinical experience, and conducted research that will enhance your knowledge in the field. Get to know the students living on your dorm floor, the students you sit next to in class, and the students in your prospective clubs. It will only enhance your time here and may turn into life long friendships.

Congratulations again on committing yourself to a higher education here at the University of Scranton. Enjoy your time here among friends and also study hard. There are many things I would do at this moment to be back in your shoes. I have had the time of my life here at the University of Scranton and I am extremely sad to leave my second home.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton! Congratulations on getting accepted, you passed the first step. You are also more prepared than I was when I was in your shoes. In declaring your Psychology major as a freshman, I can assure you that you’re ahead of the game (coming from someone who didn’t declare until second semester sophomore year), that being said, if you change your mind along the way that’s all right too! Everyone tells you that college will be the best years of your life, and they aren’t lying. I sincerely believe college was the best four years of my life not because of the getting away from home piece, but instead because the University of Scranton helped me discover who I truly am. Being away from home, learning time management, meeting new people, learning to challenge everything without taking it at face value, and studying topics that interest you are all extremely important pieces of the process.

            I have a few pieces of advice for you that you should take into consideration. First, do not have just a psychology major! There are a large number of people graduating with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and you need to stand out. If you’re worried about the course load being too much, by adding a minor or concentration you will most likely only be taking an extra class or two. My next important piece of advice is to take classes that meet multiple requirements, for example, take a class for your minor that will also fulfill your Natural Science requirements or your Humanities. By doing this, you will save yourself from taking extra classes. I am a Criminal Justice and Psychology double major with a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies and I was able to graduate in four years by following that piece of advice.

This may be perhaps the most important piece of advice, I strongly encourage you to explore and learn outside the classroom. Looking back, the parts of my college experience that transformed me most were through service trips, studying abroad, and my internship experiences. You can only learn so much in the classroom, but being in the real world brings the textbook pages to life. In order to make sure you experience growth outside the classroom, start early! Look into internships that may peek your interest in a particular field. If you are passionate about traveling like I was, look into studying abroad. If you think that may be too much, go on a service trip. I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan for these things early, because before you know it, the end of junior year will be here and you’ll be looking back wondering where your time went and thinking about all the things you said you wanted to do when you came to the University in August.

            Speaking more specifically in terms of your Psychology major at the University of Scranton, take courses that interest you. The major is designed to allow flexibility and for the students to choose classes that reflect what they are passionate about. Pick classes that interest you or you’ll find yourself struggling to even attend. The Psychology department at the University of Scranton includes some of the most interesting and entertaining professors I have ever met. They are all knowledgeable in different areas and their classes reflect that. I advise you to get to know them, you will be asking them for letters of recommendation or even conducting research with them one day. Each professor is happy to help and answer any of your questions, they are people too and they know what it’s like being in your shoes, so do not be afraid to ask questions or seek help.

            Lastly, my final words to you are: enjoy being here! These four years you will grow in your beliefs and how you look at the world. The University provides you with the knowledge to make your own decisions as an adult and in understanding that the world is not black in white as it once appeared. Relationships and people will change, but so will you, I encourage you not to give up when things get difficult. I’m not going to tell you that college is easy or that the University of Scranton is easy. By challenging and pushing yourself you will grow in ways you do not even notice. Good luck with everything and I wish you luck in the future whatever it may hold for you.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

                I speak to you now as a senior finishing up my education and my time here at the University of Scranton soon to graduate from our undergraduate Psychology program. Apologies in advance if not all I have to say applies to you directly; I am speaking purely from my own experience and I hope that you are not exactly the same person with the same exact educational path ahead of you that I took for myself. That is not to say that I regret my time at the University of Scranton, just that there is always room for recommendation for improvement in retrospect. In this light, I write to you as if I am writing to myself four years younger.

Starting your freshman year, you have more freedom than you have possibly ever experienced before in your life. The CAS Freshman Advising Center is undoubtedly there to help you deal with this fact, but their guidance is not absolute; feel free to edit your schedules and course-load on your own whim. If you want to take a class that your advisor insists will not be beneficial to you in the future, but nonetheless the course speaks to you, your freshman year is the best time to take risks like that if you are going to do so. Do not be hesitant to try out classes from different disciplines, especially those that are unfamiliar to you, but at the same time do not lose your focus as a Psychology major, it may be challenging at first but it is well worth sticking through.

In my own experience any by the word of others, the college experience differs too greatly to say which year will challenge you the most, but some sweeping advice still holds true on a broader scale. Stick with your chosen major. I cannot emphasize this more. The sheer amount of students that change their major is fairly alarming. If your freshman or sophomore year are filled with classes that do not seem to fit your exact and specific ideas of what Psychology should be like, just stick it out, it gets better. With time and foundational experience in the field, leeway is allowed as far as focusing down your interests.

It seems that plenty of students coming into the University of Scranton’s Psychology program are interested in clinical applications and nothing beyond. Our focus, at least from the start, largely gives due appreciation to the scientific background of Psychology. This background is absolutely necessary to achieve, later on, the capability to apply what you have learned. So, in short, my advice is to be patient and your time and effort will be rewarded.

If you are a local student, going to college at “home” is not the worst thing in the world. You will gain newfound appreciation for Scranton and local culture as a whole by hopefully making good friends with people from elsewhere who will be enamored by their own college experience giving you some vicarious enjoyment in the process. I include in this thought however sincerest apologies to all commuter students who have genuine difficulty fully submerging themselves in collegiate life due to the fact that many events and activities happen around the clock and you are simply not able to experience it all by not living on campus. If none of this applies to you however, and you are from out of the area, Scranton is undeniably a worthwhile place to be. As a local myself, starting as a freshman at the University of Scranton, I had initial regrets about not getting away from home. I soon accepted the fact that there is plenty of time for that later. City and country life pleasantly merge here; things are never too hectic or too boring. Pedestrian traffic and artistic culture are alive and well too, potentially even being trends that are on the rise. There is plenty to experience outside of campus and there is no need to hesitate to see what Scranton has to offer in walking distance from your dorms.

Do not travel alone either. This is not to say that Scranton is unsafe when you are without a group, just that it is simply not recommended to spend your college experience as a loner. Acquiring a decent group of friends, especially within your major and related fields of interest will prepare you well for your life to come, most workforce opportunities in psychology involving inter-colleague interaction and people in general. Psychology as a science, and the University of Scranton as a whole, do not promote complete solidarity as an approach to life.

All-in-all, I hope my advice holds some worthwhile meaning to ears that need to hear it. I wish you well in all your educational endeavors ahead.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on being accepted to the University of Scranton. The next four years will prove to be some of the most important in determining your future. Do not take this task lightly, you will need to work hard to compete with your fellow students.

            The psychology department at the University of Scranton consists of caring, qualified, and experienced professors who are eager to help students who ask for it. One of my biggest regrets about college is failing to take full advantage of my professors’ expertise and advice. It may be difficult to get used to at first, but these professors are eager to answer questions and, in my experience, form personal relationships with students who are interested in doing so.

The University of Scranton is a unique academic environment in that class sizes are small on average. This leads to a more personal learning experience. Professors can give more attention to students who seek assistance. Here, you are not just a number in a 500-seat lecture hall. Professor genuinely care about the success of each individual student, something that only a small, tight-knit college can provide. Make it a point to form relationships with professors right from the start. If you are thinking about attending graduate school, there are steps you should be taking right from the start of your college career. No professors will write a good letter of recommendation for a student they are not familiar with. Make it a point to frequently stop in during office hours, even if it is just to say hello. The professors here are more than happy to have a conversation that is not related to academics. Take advantage of this.

            In addition to forming relationships with professors for things like letters of recommendations and assistance with course material, you should also be asking them about their experiences in college. It may seem difficult to believe, but they were also at one point incoming freshman psychology majors. The psychology staff has experts in fields ranging from clinical to social psychology, and much more. It is important to find out the right questions to ask, in order to get answers that are useful. Psychology is a very broad field, and it is important to get as much information as possible about as many fields as possible in order to make better informed decisions about your future career in psychology.

            Initially, my plan after graduating with Bachelor’s degree in psychology was to enter a clinical psychology doctoral program. Many of your fellow classmates may have this projected career path, as well. It was not until my junior year that I realized my grades would not get me into a doctoral program in clinical psychology. If you want to get a Ph.D., you must work hard from the start of your college career, through to the end. Instead of focusing and working harder to improve my grades, I gave up on my dream of becoming a clinical psychologist. Now, I am not even planning on attending graduate school at all. This is the biggest regret I have about my decisions in college. Do not sell yourself short. If you want to end up in a certain position or in a certain career, do not accept anything less.

            As far as courses, I would recommend classes in a broad range of psychology fields. You may be certain you want to enter a career in one field of psychology, but one class could change that. Evolutionary psychology, clinical and child clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, and behavioral neuroscience are the classes that I got the most out of. These classes are taught by a number of prestigious faculty members.  These specific classes cover a range of topics, but there are all related, directly or indirectly. These are also some of my favorite classes I have taken at the University of Scranton because the subject matter was interesting and I was able to relate much of the material I learned to situations in the real world. After all, that is what college is all about: growing as a person and making connections between things that seemed unrelated in the past.

My last piece of advice is that psychology works its way into every facet of life. As you will learn during your time at Scranton, every field is related. For example, without philosophy, psychology would not exist. You must understand history to understand the context of new movements in psychology. Without biology, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to study neuroscience. Always look for ways to create connections between the things that you learn. Not just in your psychology classes, but in all your classes. The University of Scranton creates well-rounded students who have experience in many fields after graduating. Keep an open mind, work hard, ask questions and create relationships with professors, get involved with campus activities and clubs, and enjoy your time at the University of Scranton. You are about to start an exciting chapter in your life, and I can say from personal experience that you are at one of the highest quality and most unique universities in the country. Good luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            People often say that college will be the best four years of your life. This expression comes across as cliché. However, I beg to differ. My time at the University of Scranton has been the best four years of my life. While at Scranton, one of my largest influences was the psychology department. The first psychology course I enrolled in was Fundamentals of Psychology. The professor inspired me to approach her for a teaching assistantship position. From that point on, I fully delved into the various opportunities the psychology department had to offer. I have performed research, continued the teaching assistantship, and interned at a psychological testing site. All of these experiences have provided me with the skills and knowledge I need to succeed in my life after Scranton.

            Entering college as a freshman is overwhelming, intimidating, and exciting all at once. I know because I was in your place four years ago. When the University advertises a club fair, attend it. You will learn that there are many places where you can find people who share your interests. Whether those interests are related to psychology or not, you will find it beneficial to expand your social circle. I also suggest signing up for clubs that you may be interested in but do not know much about. For example, I signed up for The Aquinas, the school newspaper. As a psychology major, journalism is not directly relevant. However, through this opportunity to write for the paper I learned that I love writing. The University of Scranton has countless opportunities for you to discover new things about yourself and about others. One of my favorite parts of being a student at the University is the opportunity.

            Academically, undergraduate coursework will be tough. As the semesters go by, and you begin to fulfill your general education requirements along with your psychology major requirements, you will discover that some of those courses are easier than others. As a freshman, keep in mind that your grades and actions will follow you through your senior year. Whether you know what you want to do after college or if you only know what you want five minutes from now, keep in mind that every action has a reaction. College is a time for new experiences, people, and discoveries. However, never let the novelty of a college campus distract you from your academics. At times, you will have to choose between going to late-night downstairs DeNaples with your new friends from orientation and studying for the Fundamentals of Psychology exam you have the next day. These are the times when you need to look out for yourself.

            Psychology is an amazing major. Personally, I experienced love at first Freud. This may be true for you but it also may not be true. What I can say is enroll in courses that are of interest to you. Psychology is a great field because the topics and areas are endless. There is social psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive psychology, health psychology, clinical psychology, etc. When you are browsing the course catalog and must choose which psychology electives to take pick ones that you are genuinely interested in. Granted, some professors may be harder than others or known to be “better” than others. If I have learned anything in college, it is that the professor should not dictate your course selection. A great skill to learn is malleability. If you are enrolled in a course where the professor may not be the nicest or easiest, adjust and learn how to work around these limitations. Challenge yourself.

            The psychology department at the University of Scranton is filled with faculty and staff whom truly love what they do. In size, we are small. However, this size is neither indicative of our abilities nor our passion. Reach out and speak to faculty about their research or approach your professors about opportunities to become a teaching assistant. Take advantage of every opportunity in front of you and enjoy the journey.

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(#61)


Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on admittance to the University of Scranton, and I must say great choice picking Psychology as a major. Psychology will teach you many things about the people around you and possibly why them may be acting in a certain way. However more importantly it will teach you about yourself and how to pick yourself up when you are not feeling your best.

Psychology has taught me so much about myself and I couldn’t be more proud to be a psychology graduate from the University of Scranton. However I feel as though I did not take full advantage of this major. I loaded up on the mandatory classes in my sophomore year and therefore was not around psychology too much as a junior and senior. Generally I had to take maybe a lab or 1-credit course and that was the only time I was around AMH (the psychology building). I also did not take advantage of the research aspect of psychology. I feel as though I could have easily been a Research Assistant (RA) but I had my sights focused on other endeavors.

One thing that you definitely get involved with is TA-ing (Teacher Assistant). As a person who had done it more than 5 times, I can highly recommend it for just about any professor in the department. There are some professors who offer more while there are others who only ask you to grade quizzes. Still this is a great way to become close with the faculty. There is also a possibility to get involved with research this way. I was able to TA and ended up presenting at the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) annual meeting this past March in New York City. This was a great event as it was my only time presenting research. It was also great to see all the other Scranton students who had done research and presented at the event.

The Psychology program also allows for a lot of work outside the department. This is an area that everyone should take advantage of. I was able to pick up two minors and still complete all my course work on time. With your free elective space, you should check out other subjects that interest you and potentially double major or at least minor. This is a great way to supplement your education outside psychology and build out your resume. I would also suggest applying to all honors programs and honor societies that you are able to. The answer will always be no, if you do not ask.

I know you guys have only been on campus for a few days and just met some new friends but you must be aware that your grades freshman year count just as much as your grades senior year. There is no time to slack off because your GPA and work in college will help differentiate you from students of similar backgrounds. You should also get to know the folks in Career Services; they are some of the nicest people on campus and only want to help you secure a job or spot in a graduate program after you graduate Scranton. These fine folks at Career Services will also be able to get you in touch with the right people to help you reach your goals after graduation. This leads me to my last point.

One of the final pieces of advice that I will give is to: network, network, network. Scranton has numerous alumni in every field that you can think of and these people will do all they can to help you. The graduates of Scranton are so willing to help students who are currently attending Scranton. This is how numerous friends of mine got their internships and jobs for after graduation. It would be foolish to not take advantage of this large group of people who want to help you. A cold-email may seem scary and when you do send them they are answered, those are the folks you want to talk to. From personal experience, this is how I was able to secure a job on Wall Street after graduation. Now you may think: a psychology major from Scranton on Wall Street, but that is the beauty of our network of graduates.

Lastly, do not ever sell yourself short as a Scranton student and get involved on campus. I have gone into interviews scared because people went to “better schools”. This could not be farther from true. The education I got from Scranton has prepared me to be successful as I enter the workforce. This education occurred both in and out of the classroom, so take advantage of the events around campus. Those events are where the real learning occurs and what will make you a better, more prepared candidate for whatever opportunity you seek after graduation. Scranton sets you up to be successful, you just have to take the first step and get involved to make the most of your education.

I wish you all the best of luck as you begin you Scranton career. Sit back and enjoy the ride; these will be some of the best years of your life.

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Dear incoming Psychology Major:

            As a graduating senior now, the journey was an experience, to say the least. I was not sure what I wanted to do after college for the first full year of school. I was accepted as an undecided student and paved a way to structure my classes based on the ideas of would-be professions. During the first semester of sophomore year, I quickly made the decision to be a psychology major. I’d like to think of it as a good and bad decision.

            I loved learning about the many, fascinating levels of psychology as a senior in high school and because of that, I decided to pursue a possible career in psychology as a college student. As the remaining years passed quicker than ever, I decided that I did not want a profession in psychology. I didn’t put enough thought into this major when I began and, now, I am unsure of exactly I want. It’s safe to say I declared a major simply to declare a major. Don’t do that. These things need to be strategically thought out because your life depends on it. I now have an idea of what I want to professionalize in with the help of a counseling and human services minor, but, before that, I wasn’t positive at all.

            Reflecting on the psychology major in and of itself, the experience sets you up to be the best psychologist you can be by requiring courses in statistics, research methods, junior seminar, and many others to narrow your focus including: childhood psychology, adulthood psychology, clinical psychology, and cognitive psychology, to name a few. I completed all of these classes. These classes were interesting as a whole but still shied me away due to the many years of school on top of undergraduate school and the length that schooling requires. I find it bizarre to sit through another 5 years of school when I could pursue a career in clinical mental health counseling for a shorter number of years (2) and be well on my way to a private practicing practitioner. Knowing that I would be close to 30 years of age seeking my first job was horrifying. You need to weigh the positives and negatives. Like I said, this is probably the biggest decision of your life because after school, what you chose to study as an undergraduate is the most likely choice of your profession.

            A positive of being a psychology major, for me, was the opportunity to figure out exactly what population I wanted to work with as a soon-to-be clinical mental health counselor. Taking courses in childhood, abnormal, clinical child, and abnormal child psychology, I want to work with adolescents. It is fascinating to think about our complexities and how we grow from one stage to the next. Thinking about your adolescence probably triggers a number of memories and I guarantee you’re thinking about them right now.

            As psychology majors, think about joining the psychology club. This betters your opportunity to mingle with other psychology majors and will be influential to you. You will make friends in the same major and you will have someone to talk to about upcoming tests and projects. For me? I joined the club, went to one meeting, and that was it. I didn’t take advantage of this golden opportunity to meet other psychology majors. Over the past 4 years I have many psychology friends, but not as many as I should have. The psychology club isn’t some stupid club consisting of a bunch of nerds who read their psychology textbooks every day and who don’t have a social life. Instead, they are individuals who are trying to better your chances in the major and provide opportunities like none other; take advantage of it. I promise it will be beneficial to you.

            Also, be smart in taking advantage of the time to speak with the psychology faculty. As you continue to take psychology classes, you will have a chance to have the same professor twice, maybe even three times. This allows your professor to get a chance to know you. Now is the proper time to make yourself known and ask questions. No question is a stupid question. These individuals are here to help you embark on the same journey that they did. They will be more than glad to help you. If you continue to shy away like I did, your questions will never be answered and things will not line up like you want them to. It’s hard to do this by yourself. You need as much help as possible to make the best decisions in life, especially a career decision.

            Please reflect on your decision to be a psychology major. This major provides many opportunities to succeed after college and is a profession that continues to rise. Without the proper thought processes, this major will not be beneficial to you. Start now. Don’t wait until your junior year to declare a minor and finally have an idea of what you want like I did. The opportunities are available to you right now. Take advantage of them.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Four years of college have passed by even faster then everyone said it would. I can still clearly remember my freshman year. I remember how confused I was about what I wanted to do, and how nervous, and excited I was to be starting college.  I was undeclared as a freshman because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a living. I took a bunch of different classes and by the end of the year I decided I had to pick a major.  I could haven taken the business route, which I didn’t enjoy as much but it seemed more practical, or taken the psychology route, which I really liked but was slightly less practical. I went with my gut and choose psychology and I am still satisfied with my decision.

Psychology has a reputation for being an easy major but I assure you it will not be easy. If you value your education and do the work that is asked of you, you will be challenged, but it will be worth it. You will be tempted to take classes both in your major and outside of your major because they are easy, or because the professor has a good rating, but don’t let this get in the way of taking classes you might enjoy. Don’t limit yourself during your time at the University. Take the class that might be a little extra work if it seems interesting because you might learn something about what you enjoy and what you dislike that you may not have learned otherwise.

Get involved early. I didn’t feel the need to volunteer or to devote time to clubs in the beginning of my college career because I was concerned with other activities not related to my long term goals. Take the time to make friends, experience the parties, but don’t let that get in the way of the end goal, whatever it may be. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by college and all the new opportunities that are going to be presented to you, but if you establish long term goals and make decisions according to those goals, you will thrive here.

After taking my junior fall semester off from college I learned a lot. I learned that college is way easier than the real world, and genuine friends are essential. I also learned that college credits are way cheaper at local community colleges. You are allowed to take a certain number of credits at other schools, use them early. Because of my time away from school, picking up a minor was too difficult. Try to find another subject you enjoy and go for the minor or the concentration. Many of them are not difficult to attain and they will look good on a job or graduate school application. You should also be prepared to attend graduate school after your years as a psychology major. I thought I would find a way around graduate school, but if you want a good career in psychology start preparing as soon as you can to give yourself the best chance of getting into the school of your choice.

Visit your friends at other schools; it will give you a better appreciation for the University. Many of my friends considered transferring freshman year. They had a variety of reasons for wanting to transfer but visiting other schools put things in perspective for them. Potentially the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that college is what you make of it. Take advantage of all the resources the school offers, for instance career services and the writing center.

The next four years will be challenging, exciting, and full of new people and experiences. If you have a real interest in psychology work with the faculty and you will prosper. Attend their office hours and get involved in research as soon as you can.  All the resources you will need to be successful are at your disposal and it’s your job to take advantage of them. Remember that college is what you make of it, and enjoy it while it lasts.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations! You’re at the start of an incredible four years. As a psychology major you will have a variety of opportunities, and many possible directions to go. One of my favorite parts of the psychology major was how much flexibility it gave me. There is a set of core classes you take, but beyond that you have a wide range of psychology electives to choose from. Your curriculum in the psychology program can be very specialized to your interests. Some people take more courses geared towards clinical psychology, while others go more in the applied psychology direction. In the beginning you will be exposed to many areas of psychology, so you can see which areas you like best and what specific courses you want to take later on. Along with the flexibility within the program, there is also a great opportunity to earn minors along with the psychology major. If you plan to get a minor early enough, it is very possible to obtain with the psychology major. Most psychology majors are able to pick up a minor or two (or even a double major) without taking extra credits. I would recommend picking up a minor because it will help you explore another area. Psychology majors have the chance to go in many different directions career-wise, so it is helpful to explore another area of interest that you can meld with psychology. Also, it’s a great chance to meet people in another program.

            The best piece of advice I can give you is to get to know your professors. The professors are a great resource. A great opportunity throughout your time here will be research lab positions and teaching assistant positions. The best way to prepare yourself for that is to get to know your professors. They all have different specialties and interests, so you will likely find a few professors that have interests that align with your own. If you are not sure yet where your interests lay, talking to the professors is an excellent way to explore different interests. The professors here are eager to help you. It is helpful down the line to be familiar with professors, because they can help you guide your collegiate career and future plans. Also on that note, take your advising meetings seriously. Starting sophomore year you will be assigned a psychology faculty member as your advisor. Advisors are a great resource and can help you stay on track with what you need to do to graduate.

            My last piece of advice is to get involved. People always say that college is what you make it, and that is completely true. Get involved in clubs and activities. The more people you meet the better. Eventually you will probably find a few activities that you want to focus on, but it is great to try out a bunch and see which are best for you. Extracurriculars should not just be to beef up your resume, find activities that you are interested in. Pick clubs that interest you, not just ones that you think future grad schools or employers will want to see on your resume. These are your four years, and you want to make the most of them. If you find activities you enjoy, you’ll put more into them and get more out. Within the psychology department, my advice is to join a research lab once you can. My only regret as a psychology major is not joining a research team. Research is a good way to get to know professors better, and you can also meet other students in your major.

            The next four years of your life will be some of the greatest. You have ample opportunities for learning, activities, forming connections, and so much more. You are in a major that gives you flexibility and a team of professors who are knowledgeable and extremely helpful. Take advantage of every opportunity you can, you will not regret it. Most of all enjoy your time here. It goes even faster than people say. Enjoy every moment and every experience. Good luck to you, I hope you have an incredible four years at The University of Scranton.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on being accepted to the University of Scranton and for choosing Psychology as your major! The Psychology department has some of the best professors and academic opportunities available. The plethora of courses offered allows you to learn different facets of psychology. These courses include topics such as clinical psychology, health psychology, psychological testing, industrial/organizational psychology, and so on. A caveat I must inform you is I entered my college experience as a Biology, Pre-Med major. However, it was not a major I enjoyed or felt passionate about. I switched my major to Psychology and it one of the best decisions that I made in my college career. Ultimately, I chose something that made me happy and I enjoyed. I encourage you to try new things and find what you love. If you want to become a double major, pick up a minor, or add a concentration; I urge you to do so. The college experience is what you make it!

            Throughout my time at the university I actively participated in various clubs and organizations. Two of my favorites were the Association for Psychological Sciences Student Caucus (APSSC) and Psychology Club. By involving myself on campus, I made friends and increased my time management and leadership skills. I would encourage you to seek out these club opportunities, as well. It enhances the college experience and provides a stress relief to your hectic schedule. Two other great opportunities available in the department are becoming a teaching assistant and a research assistant. I was both a teaching and research assistant during my time at the university. My favorite thing about my college experience was that I was a research assistant. I was petrified to apply and ask to be in a lab. Yet, it was absolutely worth it! It enlightens you to new possibilities, uses the knowledge you learn in your courses, and solidifies relationships with both the professor who runs the lab and fellow research assistants. My only regret was that I did not know about the research labs and how to apply earlier in my college experience. Once I was in a research lab I grew as an individual and my grades astronomically improved. Conducting research provides the opportunities to present posters at conferences such as the Eastern Psychology Association and potentially even having a paper published. These experiences are beneficial for applying for graduate school and future jobs.

            Some advice I would give you is to find what motives you. It will understandably be difficult to find the motivation to read thirty pages for class the next day when it is beautiful outside or write a paper on a topic that is uninteresting to you and Netflix has the next season of the show you like. You need to push through this plateau to find the motivation to complete the task anyway. In the long run, you will see the benefits in pursuing your motivation. Also, keep an open mind when you are here. A professor in the Psychology department once told me that “there are many ways to reach an end.” That saying stuck with me during the course of my time here. It elicits the idea that you have to keep an open mind. Things might not turn out how you initially expect, but things do work out. Keeping an open mind allows you to “roll with the punches” of college and become successful. This would also include life after the University of Scranton. Overall, being a Psychology major changed my perspective and allowed me to grow both academically and personally. I strongly encourage you to make the best of your college experience because it goes by so quickly. As much as you might wish away the semester due to stress and exhaustion, keep in mind that you will miss it and wish that it could last longer when your undergraduate career is officially coming to an end. I wish you the best in your academic career and remember that your future will be bright!

Sincerely,

A Student Who was Once in Your Shoes

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(#66)


Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            As I sit down to write this letter to you, a million memories throughout my four years at the University of Scranton flood my mind. Some good, some bad, but I’d like to think that every one of these experiences helped shaped who I am today. I would like to start but congratulating you on selecting psychology as your major! I came into the university undecided but quickly found my home within the psychology department.

            All the countless hours that you will spend in Alumni Memorial Hall in class, in professors’ office hours, and in the lab trying to figure out how to use SPSS (don’t worry I am still not completely sure how to – even after completing an Honors thesis…) will soon fly by and perhaps you will find yourself in the same position writing a letter to an incoming psychology major and I hope know you will have your own great stories to share.

            At Scranton, I was involved in the Honors program, Psi Chi, Psychology Club, and served as a teaching assistant. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments and the legacy I will leave behind after graduation but I do regret not getting involved earlier in my college career. Freshman and the beginning of sophomore year I was anxious to get involved because I was afraid I would not be able to juggle my schoolwork and other responsibilities. Finding that balance of immersing yourself in the community while not spreading yourself too thin is incredibly important and I encourage you to push yourself to find it.

            Similarly, get to know the faculty members (again, the sooner the better!). They are always eager to help and I encourage you to continue to develop these relationships and not just for letters of recommendation! There will be times throughout your academic career where you may fall on some hard times but it’s important to trust the process and know there is always someone in the department willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear.

            Another piece of advice I would like to offer is to keep an open mind when facing any new opportunities. Leaving home and my friends and family was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Coming to college was terrifying and I struggled immensely with the transition period. However, I met some of my absolute best friends in my freshman year dorm (Go Nevils!) and wouldn’t have accomplished this if I didn’t keep an open mind and stayed positive during this time.

            I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities I have had as a student at the University of Scranton. I am so excited (and jealous) of you and all of the amazing things you will encounter during your Scranton experience. It only seems fitting to include a quote from the show The Office (set in Scranton, PA), “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the ‘good old days’ before you’ve actually left them.” Keep this in mind and don’t take one second for granted! Stay true to yourself and make the most of the short time you have here – you are destined for great things!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First, I would like to congratulate you on coming to The University of Scranton and picking Psychology as your major. I know that deciding on a major and figuring out what you want to do with it can be nerve-racking, but I think you will discover that the Psychology Department’s faculty is there to help you throughout your next four years. As a graduating senior, I think that it is only fair that I share some advice with you as your start your Scranton experience.

            When I first got to Scranton I was not sure what I wanted to major in; I picked Psychology because I took an AP Psychology course in high school and loved it. However, the not knowing if I wanted to stay in this particular major made me hesitant to sign up for psychology related courses, events, and clubs. This was a big mistake. My advice to you is to participate in what the Psychology Department has to offer. Sign-up for Psych Club, if there is a speaker coming one day; go hear them, if there is an area of research you are interested in start figuring out how you can get involved with the project. Fully exposing yourself to what the psychology field has to offer will help you decide if this is the right path for you. You may discover an area that you want to pursue for a future career, or you may decide that psychology is not for you, and that is okay too. As long as you are active in trying to figure out what it is you want to do, the easier your junior and senior year will be.

            Another thing I recommend doing is participating as a Research Assistant. This is something I never did. I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school to get my Masters and not my PhD so I figured I could skip the whole research part. Even though I do not have a strong interest in research, I wish I had done it because it looks good when you are applying to graduate school. Also, it allows you to form a relationship with a professor and this could help you get a strong letter of recommendation from them in the future.

            Along with doing research you should also take the Clinical Field Experience course. For this class you pick an internship to work at for the semester. There are several options to pick from and they are all relatively close to campus. You work there for 100 hours and meet-up with the rest of the class once a week to discuss how it is going. This course was definitely one of my favorites; I worked at The Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services in downtown Scranton. This course is great because sometimes it is extremely difficult to find an internship on your own, but with this course you are almost guaranteed one. Also, like I said before it looks great on your graduate school or job applications. 

            My final piece of advice it to make sure you create close relationships with your professors and your classmates. You will have some professors multiple times and you will definitely be in the same classes with the same people. When the professor knows you, it makes the class more enjoyable, and some professors are more likely to help if they know you personally. When you create friendships with the people in your classes it makes the work easier; you can form study groups or work on projects together. College is hard enough so having friends in the classroom will help lessen the work load.

            I know that this is probably a lot to take in right now; I was mentioning graduate school and future jobs. These things are definitely something you need to start thinking about, however do not make them your life. Even though the four years go quickly you have time to figure out what you want to do. Not only are the professors in the Psychology Department helpful, but most of the faculty throughout the university are willing to help you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, there is always someone there to listen to you and help guide you. I hope you make the most of your four years here because I would do anything to trade places with you. I wish you the best of luck during your college years!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Majors,

            One of the great aspects of the psychology major is the range of opportunity.  There are many different directions you can go with a degree in psychology.  The variety of courses available here will help you decide what direction you want to go in.  When I first declared my major as psychology I was unsure of my specific interests.  The only thing I knew was that I found psychology interesting and I wanted to take more courses.  Taking the variety of courses helped me find areas of psychology that I liked and did not like.  The Psychology Department does a good job requiring certain courses while also giving you an option to choose from.  It gives you a well-rounded education within the field of psychology.  The University also stresses the importance of a well-rounded education by having general education requirements. 

            Throughout my years here there have been many interesting courses that I have taken that have benefited me.  Some of my favorite courses are Abnormal Psychology, Social Psychology, Health Psychology, Personality and Individual Differences, Condition and learning, and Sensation and Perception.  It is a great feeling when you are in a class that is informative as well as interesting.  I recommend that you challenge yourself as well.  One of the courses that I struggled with was Behavioral Neuroscience.  I thought it was difficult and I even thought about dropping it.  I stayed in the class and ended up improving my grade.  I felt accomplished and recommend that you take challenging classes as well.  Do not miss an opportunity to take a class because you heard it was hard.  You could miss out on a great experience.

            Some of the lower level psychology classes could be boring if they are taught a certain way.  You just have to stay focused because a lot of the information will be useful in upcoming classes.  When you become an upperclassman and you decide to take lower level courses some of the information can be redundant.  For example when I took Adolescent Psychology, there was a lot of over lapping information that I had learned in previous classes like Child Psychology, Social Psychology, and Personality and Individual differences.  But, many of the courses have similar concepts and it is good to be familiar with them.

            I am happy to say that the majority of the professors are very good at their job.  They teach their courses in a way that benefits you in many ways.  They are interactive and help you develop the skills that are necessary to do well in the course.  The availability of the professors is another positive.  They have office hours and encourage you to come for help or just to stop by and say hello. 

            One thing I regret is not being more involved.  I declared my major late sophomore year but I wish that I got involved with the psychology club and other opportunities like research and teaching assistant.  I encourage you to get involved because it gives you to the chance to meet other psychology students as well as faculty.  You can also get involved in other clubs around campus to meet different people and explore your interests. 

            Overall, I have had a great experience here at the University of Scranton as a psychology student.  I have met great people, taken interesting courses, had brilliant professors, and discovered a lot about myself.  I am confident that you will enjoy your time here and I wish you the best of luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your acceptance to The University of Scranton! I hope you are looking forward to the next four years. One of my first memories as a student involves getting lost on the way to Hyland. I have come a long way since. The psychology department has played a huge role in my Scranton experience. Over the past four years, I was given many opportunities to work with the faculty and grow as an individual. Some of the highlights of my experience include: being a teaching and research assistant, completing an honors project in psychology and participating in a semester of field experience. I was also the secretary of Psi Chi and involved with Psych Club and APSSC. Overall, the past four years have been very rewarding. As a freshman I was given some advice that I would like to share with you in this letter. First, find a system of organizing your schedule and class materials. Also, make an effort to get to know the professors. Lastly, do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. These simple points have made the biggest difference in my experience as a student and I hope you will find them useful.

Organization and time management are two of the most useful skills I learned as a student. During syllabus week I took the time to go through all of my syllabi and note important dates in a calendar. I also took the time to block out hours for class, teaching assistantships, research, studying, and free time. Having a set schedule for each day helped me be more productive and stay on top of my work. This system may not work for your but I hope you will find your own way to structure your day. Increased amounts of free time in college can be difficult to manage. Also, due dates for classes are often scheduled in the same week.  It is important to be prepared so that you do not become overwhelmed. I found that staying organized helped me to make the most of my time.

I strongly encourage you to make an effort to get to know the psychology department faculty early in your Scranton experience. Whether you go to office hours or simply say hello before or after class getting to know your professors will enhance your experience as a student. Remember that the faculty is passionate about teaching and research. They frequently want to share these experiences with students. Moreover, many professors are open to new ideas. As a student in the honors program I completed three independent tutorials with various faculty members in the department. I also worked as a research assistant in the clinical health psychology lab. Most of the teaching assistantships that I completed were given to me because I reached out to professors. I also explored a variety of research labs before settling on one that I was interested in. My honors thesis was a secondary analysis of data that my professor had been working on. Lastly, the faculty played a major role in advising me every semester and helping me through the graduate school application process. I hope you will take advantage of the experienced faculty and resources around you even if you are hesitant to do so.

Lastly, I urge you to be open-minded and step outside of your comfort zone during your time at Scranton. Throughout, my time as a student I took several challenging courses in neuroscience and completed a minor in counseling and human services. A majority of these courses were not directly related to psychology and required extra effort. However, the skills I gained were useful during my internship and field experience course. I was also exposed to service learning at several community agencies. In neuroscience I learned about the various physiological effects of commonly prescribed medications. If possible I recommend that you pick up a minor in an area of interest. Psychology is pertinent in many different disciplines and you may learn that concepts outside of the discipline are interesting to you. I wish you the best in these next four years at Scranton.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            You are about to begin the best four years of your life. The University of Scranton has a lot to offer, and it is important to take advantage of the various activities on campus. As a freshman, I advise you to join as many clubs as you can, including the psychology club. This is a great opportunity to get acclimated with your classmates and professors, as well as your involvement with community service. In addition to clubs, the university offers intramural sports such as baseball, volleyball, soccer, and rugby. These games allow students to escape the stressful school week and compete with your friends. I also advise you to familiarize yourself with the career center. The staff offers great lectures, power points, and seminars to help aid students with resume building, writing cover letters, curricula vitae, and preparing for mock interviews. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the services they offered, and it was not until my junior year career development course, that I took advantage of these. The center will also help you with any internships or jobs you are seeking during or after your time at the university.

            As for the psychology department, I recommend that you get involved with research as early as you can. As a psychology major, you are required to take a research methods lecture and lab for three credits. It is offered around sophomore year, and I highly advise you take it then. Many students put it off until their junior or senior years and regret it. Although a stimulating course, it is a lot of work that most seniors try to avoid. Once you have completed this course, you can participate in a professor’s research lab. Doing research provides students the opportunity to get involved with what is going on in the field, as well as become a prominent member of the lab. Many students run the lab experiments for their professors, and eventually conduct proposals for publication. Aside from the various research labs the department offers, they also offer students the opportunity to do a clinical experience. This is both a lecture and internship for three credits that allows students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world. Although optional, I highly commend it. Not only does it give you a taste of the professional world, but it also looks great on your resume. This course requires prerequisites and it is usually not offered until second semester of junior year. Most students partake in this course their senior year once they have completed abnormal psychology, psychological testing, and clinical psychology.

            Lastly, the department offers many classes that students are not required to take, but can if they wish. There are several core classes that are required for a psychology major, but you are also offered numerous credits consisting of free psych electives and the “core eight”. For psych electives you can take any class you want that you were unable to earlier. For the core eight, the department gives you the option to pick between two courses that are required. My advise to you is to look up who teaches these courses and research the background of what these courses entail. If you are not interested in learning about neuroscience, I do not recommend taking courses along those lines. Although interesting, it can be difficult. Other than that, I have thoroughly enjoyed all my courses I have taken here. If you get the chance, I would definitely take abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. These courses are taught by phenomenal professors and consist of intriguing information. As opposed to reviewing the history of psychology, you learn what is going on currently in the field, and what is the most popular topic today.

            Like I said, you are about to begin the greatest journey of your life, and I wish you all the best in whatever you pursue while at the university. The psychology department is one of the best, and you will definitely enjoy your experiences here. Good luck with the next four years and never forget to “ Think with the mind of a scientist and feel with the heart of a humanist”. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on getting accepted into the University of Scranton! Transitioning from high school to college may be overwhelming at first, but it will get better. Remember you are not alone and that there are other freshmen just like you who also feel overwhelm. Putting yourself out there and making new friends help tremendously. Being open to this new experience and adventure of college will help you in making the most of your time here at the university.

When I first came to Scranton I came in with a neuroscience major which required me to take two psychology courses. I ended up taking more than two psychology courses and fell in love with the subject. By the end of my freshmen year I had declare psychology as my second major. I credit the professors in the psychology department for helping to foster my love and respect for the field. You will learn fast after taking just a few courses how passionate the psychology professors are for the field of psychology. In order to fully get the most out of your psych major I recommend taking advantage of this passion that the professors have. In other words do not be afraid to go to each professor and ask them about their research. You never know what you may learn or what might be of interest to you. If you become interested in their research make sure to take the courses that they are teaching. The reason I recommend this is because each professor teaches courses that are related to the branch of psychology that they are working or doing research in. By taking their courses you will gain some background information that will be helpful in order to work in their labs. If you enjoy the courses that a specific professor has taught go and ask them if you may join his or her lab. Also ask if you could be a Teacher’s Assistant (TA). Having the experience of doing research and being a TA will truly be beneficial.

Some general advice that I have for you would be to become responsible for, and proactive with your education. Unlike high school, in college there is no one reminding you constantly when assignments are due. This is why buying a planner is important, because it helps in keeping you organized. Make sure to read your syllabus for this will help you to understand the professor’s grading, class attendance, and late assignment policies. The syllabus also gives you the dates of when all assignments, quizzes, and exams will be due. Write these dates down so that you can keep track of what is due. Also it important to know what requirements are needed for any major, minor, or concentration you declare. No one is going to tell you this but make sure that you KNOW YOUR CAPP SHEET. Your CAPP Sheet tells you how many credits you need to complete for your general electives, majors, cognates, and any minors or concentrations. A major help would be the creation of a four-year plan of when you are going to take certain courses.

I cannot stress this enough but studying is important in order to be successful in college. Yes, there may be quizzes in some courses where you may be able to study for them an hour before you take it and be successful in getting a good grade. However, this is not always going to be the case especially for exams. Study for quizzes and exams several days in advance. You will learn that it is better to space out the material that you need to study for over a number of days rather than cramming all of it in the night before or the day of. While you are studying, take study breaks so you do not become overwhelmed with the material. Also find a place or a “studying spot” that will help you to concentrate. This could be in your room, in study rooms in the Loyola Science Center or Leahy Hall, or in the library. Now if you are someone who needs to be in an extremely quiet space to study the fifth floor of the library is the best place for you.

Another pointer that I can give you would be to always try to get enough sleep this is important to both your physical and mental well being. Sleep will especially be helpful on those nights where you have to study for a long period of time. When you get enough sleep you do not have to worry about falling asleep in class and missing something important that the professor may say. You will also do a lot better on quizzes and exams when you have enough sleep.

Hopefully the advice above will help you throughout your college career. Enjoy your time here at Scranton because four years will go by fast and before you know it, you will be a senior about to graduate. Good Luck!!

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Dear freshmen,

            Regardless of whether or not you’re a psychology major college is like no other, so get ready for the most invigorating four years of your life. Life is completely different. There is no one forcing you to do your work or no one taking care of you. It is safe to say your success and failure is all on you. The next four years are the ones that make you into the person you will be for the rest of your life.

            First and foremost you have to learn to work. A reliable work ethic is the only way you’ll make it through college. Sometimes you will have classes you don’t like and you’ll have friends who just want to go out and party. If you don’t know how to schedule your work and know how to dedicate yourself, college will be difficult to get by. One of the biggest tools in being successful with work is being organized. Personally I am horrible at organizing, which makes getting all my work done on time a lot harder. First you need a calendar and a planner. You use your calendar for big projects that are due awhile from now. You hang it somewhere close by where you can check it everyday. Next you get used to using a planner. Planner is what you use for everyday work. You check that everyday right after classes to get all that long extensive reading assignments out the way. Beware of procrastination because it will get you. Finishing work early is treacherous but it is a great key to staying ahead of the game.

            The next part of college, which every person seems to love and skip right to, is the fun. You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about having fun and going partying. The truth is the only way to healthily survive college is to have an equal amount of fun as well as and equal amount of work. Socializing is very important in college. This is a place where you meet life long friends, people who can start your career in the future and things of that nature. If you had no time for socializing you would be stressed 24/7, getting sick and worst of all you would be handling this all by yourself. Communicating, laughing and having a good time is key to a healthy mind and body.

            Another important set of tools you need is your teachers. I for one do not like asking for help and will try to do everything on my own. The truth is you need help. Teachers designed the course; so who best to ask for help but them. Asking teachers for help also show them that you care about the class. When teachers see that, they are more inclined to help you as well as understand you as a person and student. Developing a relationship with teachers also benefits you in the long run; they are the ones that write your recommendations for you. They have also been down the road career wise that you wish to travel so they have plenty of advice for you.

            Change is one of the biggest and hardest things you will ever have to face thus far. It will happen a lot over the next four years. There are changes that will occur from your major, to your group of friends, to your roommates. Change is everlasting and waits for no one. So always keep your mind open and be able to adapt. When I first came here I came in as a Criminal Justice major and found out very quickly that it wasn’t for me within my first semester. I also by the end of my freshman year had a whole different group of friends. Change can be good or bad and slightly stressful, so if you don’t like the way something is, never forget it’s not too late for a change.

            Overall the next few years will be some of the greatest and worst moments of your life. There will be trials and tribulations from relationships to school work. But at the end of the day this is what will make you into the man/woman of tomorrow. One of the things you will come to know when you get to college is that you don’t know anything. As terrifying as that may sound it is a good thing. That means you’re open to new things that could potentially help you become who you’re truly meant to be. Like someone once told me: “It’d be pretty sad if you knew exactly what you wanted to do for the rest of your life by the age of 18 or 21 even”. So sit back relax and enjoy the ride.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Majors,

            First off, congratulations on choosing to be a Psychology major at the U. In my opinion, it is one of the best programs this school has to offer. However, I am not going to sugarcoat it; it is going to be a long and hard four years. Many people seem to think that Psychology is an “easy” major; however, that could not be further from the truth. It requires a lot of discipline and dedication to be a Psychology major.

            The first thing you should know is that you will be required to take courses that will be uninteresting to you, but they are necessary in order to graduate. Second, make sure to look up your professors before taking their class. I am not saying to base which class you take off of this, but it will serve as good background information for you on your professor. Ask around. Talk to older Psychology majors and ask their opinions on which classes and professors they recommend. That will be very helpful for you.

            Third, go to class! I cannot stress this enough. Many professors have an attendance policy, but you will have some professors that do not. But do not take advantage of that! The only way you will learn and pass your courses is if you attend class regularly!

Fourth, read your textbooks! While many professors do not require you to read the chapters, I found it helpful when I did. Yes, it is tedious and time consuming, but it is so worth it. I always did significantly better on exams when I read the chapters in the textbook.

Fifth, your advisor will be your best friend. Email them, call them, and show up at their office hours. If you need anything, use them! That is what they are there for. They want to help. If you are not comfortable with your advisor, go to another professor. They are always so willing to help students. Our Psychology department faculty is not huge, so you will get to know your professors extremely well.

Sixth, if you have the chance, become a teaching assistant. It not only looks good on your resume, but also gives you some experience with responsibility. It is not easy being a teaching assistant. But it is very rewarding.

Seventh, take Clinical Psychology if you can because then you can take Field Experience in the Clinical Setting the following semester and have an internship. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. My internship was an eye opening experience and I loved every second of it.

Lastly, enjoy your college experience! Be smart, but have fun. Study hard! No night out is worth failing a class. Also, know that it is OK to make mistakes. If you get a bad grade on a test, go to your teacher to talk about it and try harder the next time! College is the time to make mistakes and learn from them.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First off, a cordial welcome to the Psychology Department! In my time at the University of Scranton, I found that the most valuable courses I took and the most valuable experiences I gained were those involving psychology. Yet, like most things in life and at this university, your experience here will largely depend on what you make of it. As such, I would like to impart some words of advice and share in some of my experiences as I leave the university, which I hope will prove some help to you in making the most of your time here—and perhaps you will avoid some of the mistakes that I made as you do so.

            Upon entering the university, I was an undeclared major (albeit leaning heavily toward psychology, of course) taking a fair variety of courses. My fear of declaring the Psychology major stemmed mostly from not wanting to be thrown into a bunch psych courses that might ultimately prove irrelevant, and perhaps more importantly a waste of valuable credits, to me should I decide upon another major. Do not be afraid of this: What I did not know at the time was that the Psych curriculum is specifically designed to avoid doing exactly that. Should you decide to switch your major after freshman year, you will have completed your social-behavioral science requirement, as well as several other gen ed requirements, and be well on track.

            On the subjects of freshman year and gen ed requirements, one of the points I cannot recommend enough is to take a wide breadth of courses. Take Fundamentals of Psych and your Psych elective, but also branch outside of psychology and look at other courses that may pique your interest; you may even find a subject in which you would like to minor. Should you ultimately decide that psychology is the right discipline for you, let me repeat my above advice: Take a wide breadth of courses. The Psych department offers a plethora of electives beyond the basic requirements of the major, and within these you well may find the field in which you want to work or pursue further study.

            Spend your first couple of years here determining where your interests lie. If you are still unsure by then, do not panic. It took me until my junior year to figure out that I had interest in both Clinical and Industrial/Organizational Psych—and it took enrolling in each course to determine what I would like to pursue. My mention of the I/O Psych course prompts another piece of advice: Some of the elective courses are offered infrequently for one reason or another. If you are interested in taking one of these courses, find out when it is offered and take it as soon as possible. Because I did not do this, I was unable to take I/O Psych until spring semester of my junior year—and I will be studying it in grad school!

            Grad school is another topic worthy of mention. While determining your preferred field within psychology, you should also be thinking about whether you will need or want to go to grad school, and specifically what type of program that would entail (i.e., a masters or a doctorate). If you decide to go to grad school (even if you do not, the experiences are nevertheless valuable), there are a number of experiences you will want to pursue as soon as possible; chief among them are research and teaching. Several research labs exist in the psych department, and even those professors that do not have labs conduct research—if you are interested in their field, it can never hurt to ask! I, unfortunately, only got involved in research at the end of my junior year, and thus had to rush to get the experience I needed. Learn from me and relieve yourself of some of that stress!

            As for teaching experience, only a few psych professors ask their students to be teaching assistants (TAs) for their courses. For the rest, the burden is on you to ask them. If you did well in a course and want to gain some valuable teaching experience, ask! This is another topic that I pursued a bit late; TAing for two courses fall semester of my senior year while doing research and working proved unduly stressful and is not a path I would recommend. Ask early and get it done early so you can focus on the other experiences you will need.

            A final topic that will prove valuable regardless of whether you choose to attend grad school is getting an internship. The practical uses of getting an internship are obvious: Getting valuable real-world work experience in your chosen field and figuring out where specifically in that field you would like to work or pursue further study. Whether you are interested in Clinical or another area of psychology, you can (and should) take a Field Experience course for credit. In completing your internship, you may confirm your interest in that particular area; however, perhaps more importantly, you may disconfirm your interest and find out that you never want to work in that area. Studying theory in a classroom can only reveal so much—you will never truly know if you enjoy something until you are doing it.

            The topics I covered above constitute the most valuable experiences I gained as a Psychology major. I wholeheartedly recommend trying out all of them—and earlier than I did! Beyond that, discover what other experiences would be valuable specifically for you and pursue them. As I said, this experience is truly what you make of it.

 Sincerely, Outgoing Psychology Major

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

 At church the other week, the minister asked our congregation to come up with one word that best describes our time at the University of Scranton. Some people said “stressful,” some said “exciting,” others said “rewarding.” It was a bit more difficult for me to come up with one word to define four years of tough decisions, no-brainers, late night study sessions, early mornings in the lab, “ah-ha” moments, and moments when I truly believed I was in over my head. How does one express four life-changing years into a single word? Then the priest said it: “Transformative.” 

My experiences here at the University of Scranton, and more specifically in the psychology department, have transformed me into the person I am today; every decision I made, every word I spoke, and every action I took shaped my growth as a student, a professional, a teammate, and a member of the Scranton community (an affiliation that will last the rest of your life). The point of this letter is not to tell you what to expect (your journey will be different than mine and every other student that has walked the halls of AMH); rather, it is to advise you on what to take advantage of and what to look forward to during your time here at the University of Scranton.  My first piece of advice is to befriend our psychology professors; email them, visit them in office hours, speak to them after class, do anything you can to get to know them. We have amazing professors in our department and my time at the U would not have been as fulfilling without them. Get involved in research, become a teaching assistant, and learn everything you can from our psychology professors. Take classes such as clinical psychology, psychological testing, teaching seminar, and field experience; do not shy away from a challenge and always know that our professors are there to assist you in your endeavors and help you reach your fullest potential.  My second piece of advice is to befriend our secretary and become a familiar face in the psychology department. You may get tired of walking those six hallways on the second floor of AMH, but trust me, you will not want to spend your weekdays anywhere else. Explore the research posters hanging on our walls, poke your head into offices, or just sit and talk with friends at the black table or in the computer lab; after a while, those six hallways and two and a half classrooms (AMH 214 does not fully count) will become home. 

 My third piece of advice is to stay open-minded and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Do not simply attend classes and skate by with okay grades; get involved! Our psychology department has much to offer outside the classroom. Join psychology club, check out APSSC’s research day, decorate our department Christmas tree with classmates and professors, attend lectures and guest speakers, and present research at the annual EPA conference. An education is not simply going to class and passing exams; an education requires participation and active learning outside the classroom as well. 

 My last piece of advice is to savor it all and relish every moment you have at the University of Scranton. Before you know it, you will be on your way to the Mohegan Sun Arena, getting ready to graduate, saying goodbye to Scranton, and moving on to other things. Remember that the connections you make here will help you move forward, get you places, and last the rest of your life. 

 Eliminate all your expectations and take it one day at a time. Do not turn on cruise control when things are easy and do not slam on the breaks when things get difficult; if you come to a fork in the road, simply switch gears and keep moving forward. Find your niche and find your rhythm and remind yourself that “nothing good in life comes easy.” Scranton is your home not only for the next four years, but for the rest of your life; be proud to call yourself a Royal.

Sincerely, 

Outgoing Psychology Major

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