Letters from Seniors

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

When I first heard of the University of Scranton, I was browsing through an on-line forum that had listed universities with free application fees. It was November 2013. I was a senior at a technical high school in Medford, NJ, and I was playing a game with the rest of the seniors based on who could get accepted into the most colleges. Every time I applied to a new college, I used my mother’s credit card to pay for the fees; eventually it added up and she started complaining. Four-and-a-half years later I am a graduating college senior. Any way, the point of me telling you all that was not to just entertain you, but to illustrate how life works sometimes.

            The truth is, we are brought to circumstances that we would never have fathomed.  A chain of events can get you into situations that you may never have thought of previously. One mistake can get you to where you are - for better or for worse.

Studying psychology has a lot of stigma attached to it. The connotations are getting better, but they are still there. Many of your floormates, roommates, and otherwise peers will be on track to study the ‘hard’ sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) as opposed to the “soft” sciences (political science, psychology, sociology etc.), some of them may look down their nose at you, but most of them should not care, aside from a few comments here and there. You will quickly learn that the psychology major is not as easy as others think; like I have learned. I am just going to be honest here: psychology is not for every one. It  was not for me, and I wish I had reconsidered it in the beginning. Ironically, I do not regret being a psychology major. I learned a lot during my time here studying psychology at the undergraduate level. The paramount takeaway I can gather from my time studying psychology is the fact that you must remain objective in all that you do, in all that you experience. Since you are a young (probably seventeen or eighteen years old) student, you may not know what that means. Being objective is being free of bias; free of personal feelings. It is the antithesis of being subjective; personal feelings held. My apologies if you already know of course! For my personal journey, being taught to be objective, to hold the evidence, the facts above all, lead me to embracing conservatism. I came to this university as a liberal on most issues, and I am leaving it occupying the right-wing of the spectrum. Not everybody retains their liberal views, and you may encounter that by the time 2022 rolls around.

Make sure you take up a minor during your time here at the University of Scranton. You may have a lot of “free credits” that a minor could easily fit into. Though, this may change in the future (who knows really?) so make sure you keep up to date with any piece of advice you receive. If you play your cards right (credits) you can graduate in as little as six or seven semesters instead of the standard eight. Heck, I am graduating in seven semesters myself. There are pros and cons to graduating early. Your parents and wallet will thank you for it if you do. Your friends may be upset that you’re leaving a semester or year early. Whatever you do, make sure you have a thought-out plan and stick with it.

Finally, sometimes life happens. I have been somewhat lucky so far in my personal experience, but for many others, life happens. That entails romances going awry, classes failed, grad school applications denied, family deaths, illness… it will happen to all of us at some point. Over my time here at Scranton; I’ve lost my father, a brother, and some personal relationships with women. It all happens for a reason; if you believe in determinism. Perhaps you are familiar with Avengers: Infinity War? If not, I will give you a short summary. It is a movie about  Marvel’s superheroes (Iron man, Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther and many others) fighting in a war against an intergalactic alien bully, losing the war, and half of them being killed. Okay, I am not saying that is going to happen to you here at the University, I am just saying that you should be prepared to lose important battles. Be prepared for bad news, but yet keep a positive attitude. Have a plan A-Z. A primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency plan for every major choice you make; and you cannot go wrong.

The next four years of your life can be rough, or it could be enjoyable. College is what you make it to be.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome to the Psychology Department! I hope these four years at college are exhilarating, molding, and eventually change you for the better! Make sure you work hard, experience new things, and learn about people.

In order to help you in your path of psychology, let me offer you a summary of my experience and some advice. I never got to read one of these letters as I started college in Chemistry with a minor in Physics. I thought these two fields were fascinating, but it didn’t quite click with me. I did well and received good grades, but my day-to-day interest began to waver. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted a job or career in those fields.

So, I decided to relentlessly pursue what interested me. I picked up a Psychology major along with my Philosophy degree and added a math minor. And, contrary to what you hear a lot, I have looked back. I question whether I made the right moves, pursued the right subjects. If I can offer any advice, know this: It’s okay to be unsure. Maybe perhaps, you’re reading this letter and you know for sure what you want to do and, if that’s the case, keep on chugging on. But if you’re not sure, IT WILL BE OKAY. Psychology doesn’t always result in lucrative job offers or straight forward career paths. Of course, there are research options and other graduate degrees, but in a general sense, the field is broad, young, and evolving.

If anything, the information I’ve learned in Psychology has been almost like a self-help book. At the very least, use it to better yourself! Become the best person you can be! Know when you’re making excuses for yourself and not being honest. Understand your biases. Help yourself achieve more.

Yet this field doesn’t have to stop at the individual. This field is also influencing politics, identity, public relations etc., although it’s not always apparent. I’ve found that the knowledge I’ve learned in this field can be applied in almost whatever I end up doing from here on out.

I must also be honest and say that studying this field will not produce an easy path towards employment though. Make sure you’re working hard, taking your classes seriously, and getting involved in extracurricular activities. Strive to hold yourself to high standards, especially because the field is perceived as “easy”. Make sure you talk to your teachers as well! They don’t bite and can really help you in your studies as well as post-grad adventures.

All in all, Psychology can be an incredibly interesting field and may indeed provide some answers to the biggest questions life has to offer. Yet make sure you push yourself in the field and use the information you will gain here to your advantage. And relax, you’ll be fine.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First off, I just want to congratulate you on making this huge step in your life. College is a drastic change and can cause some stressful times. You should be proud of the hard work and dedication it took to get where you are today, in an academically challenging but rewarding program. The process of getting to college is stressful enough including SATs, recommendation letters, and an enormous amount of entry essays. This all on top of doing your regular school work. Every student remembers the struggles they had to face just to get into the program they wanted, let alone succeeding in it. So congratulations on successfully passing the first obstacle in college: getting in.

            Now that you have been accepted to a program you intend on attending, the other aspects of college become important. Most of the freshman class here at Scranton live on campus their freshman year as it is not a backpack school, meaning people stay on campus rather than traveling home on the weekends. Most students would recommend this, as it significantly helped the home sick feelings, living around other people who are going through the same thing. As well as being around other freshman, living in a residence hall allows for easily making friends. I made most of my friends from my residence hall and still consider them some of my best friends today. I actually live with three girls that lived down the hall from me all four years of my undergrad. Being in a residence hall also has its challenges, as there are different personalities living under one roof but one piece of advice I can give is to be open to discussing with your roommate. Be open to setting rules for the room to make sure you both are on the same page. As a senior, I still find myself having to discuss with my apartment-mates who does which chores. It will help to have those rules set out and avoid unnecessary problems. Another resource within the residence halls is the RA. A part of the qualifications to be an RA is someone who is willing to help and guide freshman along in their first year. Do not be afraid to knock on their door and ask for help or even just to talk to someone about your day. They will be open and want to get to know you, their resident.

            There are many resources in the Psychology department to help you along your four years in the program. For the Psychology program at Scranton, your biggest asset in succeeding will be your professors. As compared to other schools and my having dealt with them for the past 4 years, the Psychology department in all wants to see you succeed. They have office hours devoted to meeting with students and discussing whatever they want. Also they are very flexible in their office hours, in that if a student cannot make the hours, the professor is very accommodating and will schedule a different meeting time that works for the student.

            As Psychology is a very broad field and has many different sub-fields within it, the department faculty are also very broad in their interest areas. Each professor has a specialty that they focus on and do research in during the school year. One opportunity that I recommend taking advantage of is getting to know your professors and exploring their different areas of research. This year, there was research being done in attention, language and memory, health psychology, and statistics just to name a few. In addition to assisting in research and running participants, being a research assistant also grants the student invaluable experience within the research community. During the year, the research worked on can be presented at conferences across the country and students travel to present them. This allows for students to observe research being done elsewhere, as well as seeing those who are highly regarded in the field and what they are working on.

            Psychology as a college major is an exciting one with opportunities for research and growth in the academic environment. Even though there are challenging courses, there is a community built within Alumni Memorial Hall and the Psychology students that is a huge resource for students. As I graduate, I will miss walking into the building and seeing a familiar face. As you begin your journey as a freshman Psychology major, know that there are resources for you everywhere along with a smiling face to assist you. Wherever your college career may lead you, I wish you all the best of luck.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to The University of Scranton! Today is the beginning of the next four amazing years as an Undergraduate! You are about to make some of the greatest friends you will ever meet. Some of them will stay with you forever and some maybe not, but it is these friends who will make your college experience memorable. It is these friends who will be so hard to part ways with on graduation day because you realize you will not be seeing them everyday.

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. There are required psychology courses that you must take as a psychology major; get those out of the way sooner rather than later! Getting the required classes done and over with will allow you to focus on exploring fields of study junior and senior year. A class that really helped me figure out what I did, or in this case did not want to pursue, was clinical psychology. I definitely recommend taking this class junior year because it gives a psychology major the opportunity to see how the field is. This class was where I realized Clinical Psychology was not for me, but some of my friends went off into the field. Junior year is the best time to take it because that is the time you start figuring out what is after undergrad. There are so many classes our psychology department offers that allow student to get a basic understanding of what their future can be. So, take any class you see and explore! Do not be afraid!

The next thing I recommend is to get involved on campus! There are so many clubs for everyone to find something that they like! There is a Psychology Club which I found to be very beneficial when I started here because it made making friends in my major easier. It also gives you the chance to meet upperclassmen and get advice from them! Another way to get involved on campus is through campus ministries, retreats, intramurals, or sports teams. Of course, do not take on too many activities because then it may become too much to handle between school and extracurricular activities.

If research is something that you are interested in, the psychology department hires research assistants and it is an amazing experience. I was a research assistant in the sociology department, but getting to see everything that goes into it from retrieving data to getting publish is so rewarding. It may be slightly difficult finding a position, but keep your eyes peeled because the opportunity does come around!

            In need of making some spending money while you are here? Well you are in luck! The University offers so many jobs! The CTLE hires tutors every semester so do well in your classes and you could get hired! The library is always looking as well! Admissions hires students to give tours of the campus, so this is a great way to meet incoming potential students and show them why you love it here. Another great job on campus is the Royal Fund. I worked there all four years of undergrad and loved every minute of it. I may also note that the Royal Fund is the highest paying job on campus, which made paying bills a little easier.

Finally, I just want to say 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. Enjoy your time at college and make it memorable, that is the most important part. I look back at the last four years and there is not one thing I regret. That is the experience I want for you! There are no rules on how college is done. All that matters is that you work hard, have fun, and experience everything you can during what might be some of the best four years of your life. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

First of all, I am extremely jealous of you and the position you are in.  You truly are about to have some of the best years of your life, so take it all in.  This university is a pretty special place, and I think you will come to realize that quickly.  This school brought me to some pretty amazing people, and gave me friendships that I will value and maintain forever.  Although it is different for everyone, the people I hung out with my freshman year are not the same people that I am closest to now, so don’t be concerned if you don’t feel like you are making amazing friendships immediately.  My best advice is just to get to know anyone and everyone that you possibly can your freshman year, and I promise you will find amazing, irreplaceable friends.

The school offers many clubs and organizations, as well as club and intermural sports.  Me and my friends always played on a volleyball team or something stupid, even though we all sucked.  It’s just a really fun way to get out of the dorm, stay active, while also having a fun time with your friends.  Another way to get involved with the school community is to take advantage of the retreats the university offers.  While I personally never went on one, several of my best friends went on the Search retreat and really loved it.  They offer tons of different retreats, and there is definitely one that you would be interested in.  The university owns a retreat house on a beautiful lake, and it is a really great way to get off campus of a weekend, meet new people, and make new friends.

This school also has a lot to offer in the way of academics, which is something I definitely regret not taking full advantage of.  There are tons of opportunities to study abroad, which I highly recommend you look into.  I never studied abroad because I always had FOMO (fear of missing out) when it came to making memories with my friends here in Scranton.  However, as a graduating senior I really do regret not taking those opportunities that the university has to offer.  And even if you have FOMO like me, there are tons of opportunities to take trips over the summer and winter breaks, so you wouldn’t be missing a full semester with your friends.

When it comes to psychology here at the university, there is a pretty wide range of classes offered.  My personal favorite was evolutionary psychology, and I highly recommend you take this course.  The material covered is extremely interesting, and was the kind of class that you don’t want to miss because the discussion is so fascinating.  The most influential psychology course I took in my college career was definitely career and development, which you will take in your junior year.  That course is very important because it makes sure that you have a well written resume, have practiced interviews for grad school or employment, and provides you with a lot of information on career or graduate school opportunities.  (Also, you should probably back up your resume or save it in an online drive like Google Docs because my laptop’s hard drive gave out the week of finals and I lost my resume along with everything else, which really sucked.)  However, even if this happens to you, this course brings you to one of the best aspects of the university (in my opinion): Career Services.  If you are like me, you will wait until this course makes you utilize career services to go to them, but I highly recommend that you utilize them ASAP!  It is never too early to schedule a mock interview, ask for advice on your resume, or just sit down and talk with one of the counselors there. 

Being a psychology major is great because there is a lot of free room with credits to get a minor or even double major.  I minored in general business and I am pretty proud of myself for doing so.  I didn’t really know what I would want to minor in, but I knew that I knew very little about business.  I wanted to educate myself on that aspect of society and I am really glad I was able to with the free credits for electives in the major.

Reflecting on my past four years, I realize how much this university aided my growth as a person.  This school took a stubborn as all hell 18-year-old girl who thought she knew anything and everything and made her into a slightly less stubborn, humbled but confident 22-year-old woman, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  I cannot describe to you how much this city means to me and my friends, and how the people here completely changed our lives in the best way possible.  If I can make one thing clear:  These next four years will be the fastest years of your life, so make them count.  I swear to God, all I did was blink and now I am graduating.  Be smart, be safe, use your intuition, and don’t make stupid decisions.  (Well make some stupid decisions, they make good stories.  But make reasonably stupid decisions.) 

In complete honesty, I don’t know if I feel completely ready to end this chapter of my life, but I am excited to start chasing my dreams.  I cannot thank Scranton enough for beginning my journey of self-love and self-acceptance, and for brining me to people that foster my personal growth and encourage me to be a better person every day.  “Not where I breathe but where I love, I live.”  Scranton really gives meaning to this quote inscribed on the DeNaples Center walls.  I may no longer be a student at the University of Scranton, but I will always be a Royal, and I am so excited for you to be able to experience what it’s like to be part of this amazing community.

Sincerely,

Psychology Graduate 2018!!!!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

 

            I want to congratulate you on choosing psychology as your major. When I decided to be a psychology major, I had no idea what psychology actually was. This may be your experience, and if it is that is perfectly fine. If you know exactly what you want to do in life and are aware of all your interests, that is fine too. However, the beauty about this program is that you will learn things, meet professors, discuss research that you would have never thought you would be interested in. It is in through these experiences that will shape your interests and the path that you would like to pursue.  

            This major is unique because it allows room for students to shape their education based on their interests. I had a great advisor who prompted me to pick up a minor to further my studies in things that I am interested in. Not many majors have the flexibility that psychology majors have. After my sophomore year I knew I was interested in clinical psychology and therefore I began to complete the courses for my counseling minor. I found this to be a great way to practice the material that we learn in our psychology courses and the two programs build off each other well.

            Overall, I feel as though this program has taught me many things that I will use in my future and to be honest there are things that I probably will not use in my future as well; this is a part of college. The biggest advice that I was given was “College is a game, and you have to play the game right”. There are things in college that we cannot control but there are other aspects we maintain all control over. We do not decide when we get tests or papers, but we can put all our effort into studying as hard as possible or putting in a great effort to make the paper your best.

Also remember in games we cannot go full force all the time. One of the most important thing you can take away from this letter is to remember prioritizing is a must in college. There will be assignments that are not worth as much effort as others. Professors provide syllabi for a reason. You should always put effort into all of your assignments, but a five-point assignment does not have to keep you up all night in the library. Learn to schedule accordingly as to when you want to complete your assignments and how much effort you need to put into an assignment to get full credit. I promise you this will save you many long nights and headaches.

Another piece of advice I would like to share with you is to quickly understand the importance of scheduling courses. As a freshman you do not have a faculty advisor from the program, so utilize websites like ratemyprofessor.com. There are courses that are taught by multiple faculty members, and these courses are not built the same. There are cognitive courses and research methods courses specifically that I would advise you to do your research and keep your fingers crossed that you get an early time slot in the lottery. This will make sense after the first time you register.

This major comes with many opportunities to be active within the program. There is the psychology club, APSSC, and the many research labs. We are fortunate enough to learn from prestigious professors who are experts in their fields; please take advantage of this! The professors in this major want to share their knowledge and they also want to see you succeed. Stop by for office hours, or stay after class to ask a question, they will love it!

The best thing that I ever did in this major was have a conversation with a professor during my Sports Psychology class. This professor helped recognize my passion for health psychology. He not only turned me towards the right direction of health psychology, he even put me in touch with a professor who would later ask me to do research with her. I had the opportunity to complete research with this professor for two years and to even travel to New Orleans for a conference. Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. For example, if there is a professor who does research that you are interested in, go talk to them. We also have a professor on our faculty who has written the book on how to get into graduate school, so if you have questions ask him!

The last piece of advice I will share with you is this, take full advantage of what this major has to offer. This major can be easy if you want it to be, it can also be challenging. I hope you find the course work easy because you are interested in the subject, but challenging in that you are learning new things. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of becoming involved and showing enthusiasm in the things that you are interested in. Even if after your four years you realize psychology is not the field you want to go into, the knowledge you learn through this program will set you up to be successful in almost any field.

Please enjoy your time here at the University of Scranton. These have been the best four years of my life and I would do anything to go back and relive these years all over again. Although you are here to receive an education, you will gain more than just that. Scranton will forever be a place I call home. Take full advantage of everything this school has to offer. Good luck with your next four years!

Best Wishes,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            I hope you are ecstatic with your choice of attending the University of Scranton and most importantly coming in as a psychology major. You are in for a ride that you will never forget. You have made an excellent choice choosing this school. The University of Scranton is not like any other college. It is a smaller institute where you not only meet great friends but you are part of a larger family. The university is filled with non-stop events and activities to participate in. The university has a way of making you feel like you are truly apart of it. I promise you, you will never go bored here.

            The Universities Psychology Major is a popular major with so many interesting classes to take. I came into college knowing I wanted to study psychology and had a lot of people tell me by the end of my freshman year I would have changed my major at least two times. Well they were wrong. Coming in I took an intro to psychology course and I was already sure that I would remain a psychology major. I truthfully have to say I enjoyed all of my classes I completed for this major. While some were rather more difficult than others they were all very interesting. The classes are smaller classes of about 25 students or less. The department and faculty is very into what they teach which makes it easy for the students to really grasp the information and enjoy the class. You have the opportunity to talk one on one with your professors and really participate in class.

            One aspect that I think is very important is to utilize the help and facilities offered to you. I came in as an outgoing person but when talking to my professors I was more shy and nervous. It took me awhile to really go to their office hours or ask them for help when needed. I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to make connections with your teachers and use the time they give you to attend their office hours. I promise none of them bite. Another important thing you should come into college prepared for is time management. It is so important not to procrastinate. You should be organized and make a schedule or get a planner. It will help you prepare for tests, quizzes, and assignments. Don’t wait until last minute to complete your work because you will feel stressed and overwhelmed. I would procrastinate all the time up until my sophomore year when I realized it was just not working for me. After that I started managing my time better and became more successful as a student.

            One thing I wish I did differently was to join clubs and be more connected with my department and program. The psychology offers students many activities, clubs, and chances to become connected. I suggest you take advantage of those opportunities. I felt myself being unsure of what my options were after graduation and nervous of what comes next. One class that really helped me and taught me a lot about what my future could hold is Career Development. This class was an eye opening class that is very useful and informative. I suggest that you take it as a junior and not as a senior because it helps you become prepared early rather than later.

            All in all, this University is a very special place with so many opportunities. I am so grateful for the decision I made to come here. Like I said the psychology department is a department like no other. You will come across great mentors and take some very interesting classes. You will make lifetime friends and be part of a very large family at this University. You will always feel welcomed. One final word of advice is to make every second count because the time goes by faster than you can imagine. I am sitting here writing this letter in shock and disbelief that my time here is coming to an end. Good luck with your time here at The University of Scranton it will be a ride you will never forget.

Sincerely,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            These next four years are going to be a bit crazy. As I am sure you already know, this is going to be a very big change for you. The next four years, or maybe even more, will be stressful and a bit scary. Do not let that freak you out though, you are going to make so many new friends and have some of the best times of your young life. I hope by reading this letter, you have a better understanding of what it is like being a psychology major.

            I came into the University of Scranton as a Biology major but in my fall semester of my sophomore year, I decided that I loved psychology so much that I was going to change my major. If there is any advice I can give you about changing your major, it would be that there should be no stigma behind it. Some people will give you shit for wanting to change your major and not sticking to the major you entered with. There should be no stigma behind this, if you want to change your major because you are not happy with what you are doing, it is okay to do so. I have plenty of friends right now who wish that they changed their major way back because now they are either stuck here for two or three more years in a program they are not happy in or they just don’t feel like they like what they learned.

            Going off of this, the professors in their major are going to be some of the best and the worst people that you have met. Half of your friends who have the same major as you will not like the same professors that you like. It is split down the middle because each of them has a different way of teaching. Without throwing out names, there are a couple professors who will really get under your skin and try to make you feel like you aren’t going to make it. At the end of the day just remember that you are great, and you are going to do great in this program. Overall, the professors that you meet here are either going to be the best professors you have met at the U or they will be the ones that you cannot stand to be around.

            The next advice I have for you would be that you should take as many psychology classes as you can but make sure you go onto ratemyprofessor.com. You have to make sure you enjoy their teaching style before you spend the next four or five months sitting with them for three hours a week. That website is going to be one of the best things that has happened to you in college. Most of the classes in this major are beyond amazing. They are all so much fun to take and you learn so much from them all. Some of my favorite classes would have to be Health Psychology, Childhood Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Abnormal Childhood Psychology, and plenty other classes. Each class that you have the opportunity to take is going to teach you so much more from so many different perspectives.

            The next advice that I will give you is that you have to be part of the change. We are in a period of time where mental health is a very big topic and there is a lot of stigma behind it because not a lot of people know about how to make a change. The best advice I can give you about this is that you have to be able to be part of the change. Let us all work together to make sure there is an end to the idea that mental health is a death sentence. So many people struggle with depression and anxiety but, yet we still look at it like they are so different from others. When clearly, they are not much different from anyone else because it is very common.

            Throughout the next four or more years you are going to hear a lot of negative comments about being a psychology major. When you go home for the holidays, there is a large chance that you will hear from one of your family members, “If you’re studying psychology, tell me what is wrong with me.” This has to be one of the most insulting comments you can make to a psychology major because that is not all that we do. We do a whole lot more than tell people what they have wrong with them. There is so much money being cut from mental health that we have to start actually finding out about why more than half of Americans deal with some sort of disorder or conflict with mental health. Next time someone say that to you just look at them and tell them what psychology is really about because it is not about sitting on a couch and telling someone what is wrong with them

            Overall, you are going to have an amazing next four years here and I hope you really take all this to heart. Enjoy your time here because before you know it you will be laying in your bed before your History and Lit class on Monday morning typing your last paper of college working how the time flew back.

Best of Luck,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major

            With my final semester at the University of Scranton coming to an end, my thoughts have drifted towards my happy moments, and inevitably towards my regrets as well. In reviewing the events that have placed me where I am, I invariably find myself filled with more regrets than I do with happy memories or memorable experiences. As such, I would like to take this moment, and document not only my pleasant moments spent within the halls of the University of Scranton, but I would also like to inscribe and discuss my regrets, so as to perhaps safeguard future psychology majors from making similar errors.

            Starting at the beginning, I arrived at the University deadest on attaining a degree in Biology, I had no thoughts beyond simply acquiring it, as at the time I had a very Laissez-Faire attitude concerning my future, which is a chief regret I now hold. I eventually aligned myself to the Psychology department after a disillusioning experience within the biology department, which to this day I view as a positive formative moment in my life. Having switched to Psychology from Biology, I already possessed some knowledge on the structure of the human brain, which proved invaluable later in the major as I was required to commit to memory the components of the human brain considered essential to Psychology, and while certainly not every incoming freshman will possess the same means of entry into the Psychology field as I did, I would advise every incoming Psychology freshman to engage in a variety of electives, not only limited to the required biology courses, but also some courses that would may be considered supplementary such as anatomy. I would also advise those reading that it is infinitely easier to maintain a good grade, than to bring up a bad grade, so do your best in starting courses off on the right foot.

            Furthermore, in respect to choosing one’s courses, I would advise that one should take the courses that sound interesting rather than taking courses that sound easy or simple. For example, one would expect Quantitative methods 1 to be a simplistic course, and one would be right. But applying the same level or reasoning to Quantitative methods 2 and 3 would be folly despite all three courses being level 100 courses, and you would be forced to either work harder to maintain a respectable grade, or be forced to drop it. So simply put, choose courses that you believe sound interesting, and not courses that you believe will be easy. Additionally, I would advise all to regularly speak with their advisors concerning their grades, or just simply establishing a cordial relationship. Certainly don’t fail or drop the course that your advisor teaches, and then avoid them like the plague out of shame or disapproval. The advisors are here to help, and they simply want to see you do well, and if dropping their course results in you doing well, they’ll understand.

            The last piece of advice that I’d like to impart, is to ask each and any teacher in the psychology department if they are performing research experiments. While there are courses that require you to create a research experiment of your own, graduate schools care more that you took time out of your own personal life to assist or create a research experiment of your own, rather than you simply took a course that forced you to do it. By engaging in research experiments, not only will you become familiar with the techniques and procedures necessary to creating an experiment, you will also establish cordial with other classmates and potentially faculty members, which will undoubtedly become helpful later on during your major when you are applying to graduate colleges and require letters of recommendation. Speaking from personal experience, I did not seek out research opportunities, believing erroneously that since I had taken the research methods course, that such a course would fulfill the research experience requirement that many graduate colleges look for in undergraduates. I was mistaken, and since it was so close to the deadline of many graduate colleges that I had looked at, I was assuredly on the course to rejection. If I could go back in time to when I was just beginning my Psychology major, I would have done many things differently.  

            While my time at the University of Scranton has been relatively brief, and the friendships and camaraderie formed even briefer, I will look upon my years spent at the University favorably, and of the faculty and staff and the Psychology department as a whole just as favorably. The ending that I have achieved at the University of Scranton may not have been what I envisioned back when I was first accepted four years ago, and while I would certainly do many things differently, such as stop by the office hours of professors, or seek out research opportunities, I am still glad that I was able to meet so many wonderful and educated individuals, who fostered my desire to learn and improve myself. I hope that this letter finds you well, and that my regrets, my shortcomings, and my failures are mine alone, and that you learn from them.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            My time here at the University has been undoubtedly the best time of my life. The psychology department here is a group of tight knit, bright teachers and students who collaborate often. Your time here is bound to be full of great memories inside and out of the psychology department, but there are some tips that I can give you that may help you succeed as a student during your time here.

            First and foremost, get involved early and often. I remember reading a point similar to this one when I was handed a letter to freshmen in my psychology lab during the first week of school. This was a point that I did not take too seriously my freshmen year. While I was in the psychology club, I did not otherwise get involved in the department until my junior year. This is one of my biggest regrets I have. My involvement in the department has not only enhanced my learning by letting me apply the things I have learned in class, but has also led to me getting to know some of the most intelligent students and teachers who challenge me daily.

            Along with the first point, start building your resume early. Within the field of psychology, there are few positions that do not require at least a Master's degree. This is something that many of the students I went to school with did not realize. Most traditional positions require a Doctorate, and often a year to specialize. Unfortunately, these graduate programs are not easy to get into. Acceptance rates for many psychology programs are low, and in order to set yourself apart from the crowd you will need more than just good grades. Fortunately, the department offers many ways for students to build their resumes. Between research, clubs and working with professors directly, there are numerous opportunities to get some experience that will help you in the future. 

            In order to capitalize on these opportunities, it is important to show teachers that you are the kind of student that deserves to work with them. The psychology department here is small, which means that the teachers here get to know what kind of student you are quickly, and remember that. It is likely that you will have more than one class with many of the professors here. Not every teacher will love you and you will not love every teacher you have, and that's okay. You should, however, demonstrate to teachers that you are a hardworking student who comes to class prepared and ready to learn. Try your hardest to do well in class and if you are struggling, work with the teacher directly to show that you are making a real effort. All of the professors here are willing to help during their office hours, and will often make accomodations if you cannot meet during their hours. Take advantage of the fact that the teachers here genuinely want to help their students learn the material, because this is not the case in every school. Showing teachers that you are the kind of student that is willing to work for their grade will go far.

            Another tip that will be helpful for undergrad and graduate school is to minor in another subject. During your time here you will have to take a lot of free electives, and only a few of those can be psychology classes. Although it is easier to fill your free elective credits with random, easy classes, receiving a minor in a subject that you are interested will have a greater reward for you as a student. There are many areas that the school offers that compliment the psychology curriculum, and will help you round out your learning. Among these are sociology, criminal justice, and counselling, just to name a few.

            The final tip I would like to pass to incoming psychology students is about a specific class. During my junior year I took a class called “Field Experience in the Clinical Setting.” I took this class initially as a resume builder and to fill an elective space, but it ended up being my favorite class I took during my time here. This class allows you to fill some credits while also getting real life experience doing something you are interested in. I did my field work in a school where I was paired with a school psychologist. Before taking this class I thought that school psych would be an interesting field, but now I know for sure that it is what I want to do. By taking this class during your junior or senior year, you will not only learn what it is like to work in the field of psychology, but also learn if a specific field is right for you. The class does require 100 hours as an intern which may sound like a lot, but I promise that it is worth it.

            Good luck with whatever you choose to do during your time here. I hope that your time at the University of Scranton is just as amazing as mine was. You are bound to make memories and friendships that last a lifetime. In the words of St. Ignatius, “go forth and set the world on fire!”

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(#11)

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

 

            As I am approaching the end of my senior year in the University of Scranton’s psychology program, I am asked to reflect on my personal experience with the program. You will hear many times the average college student changes their major about three times. Personally, I entered college as a psychology major and never turned back. Remember that everyone is different and there is no shame in changing your major a few times in order to find what you are truly passionate about; even if it does not end up being psychology.

I chose psychology because I felt like it was a major that fit my interest in mental illness. Something I wish I had known before choosing a major is the extent to which research is emphasized and necessary in the field of psychology. I began my undergraduate career thinking I would be taking so many interesting classes on mental illnesses specifically and how to treat them. Psychology is a lot more than what mental illnesses are and how to treat them. It is research and statistics heavy so be prepared to work hard in both research methods and statistics courses. If you enjoy research and statistics, I encourage you to begin thinking early on about professors you may want to do research with. This is a regret I have in my undergraduate career. I had no interest in pursing a research assistant position because I was focused on clinical work. I realize now that I am entering a school counseling graduate program that research experience would have been extremely helpful for me in obtaining a graduate assistantship.

Although it is a little far in the future for you, I also encourage you to take the clinical experience course during your junior or senior year. It is an opportunity for you to earn credits for working in a clinical intern position off campus. Along with the off campus internship, there is a once a week discussion-based course that goes along with the internship. The course helped me immensely through my first internship experience and prepared me for what to expect now and in the future. The clinical experience in general was the most influential course I took and guided me in figuring out what I wanted to do after graduation. I highly recommend psychology majors take advantage of this opportunity if you’re interested in clinical work.

I will be honest with you. Some psychology courses are not going to excite you as much as others. Personally, I was bored by cognitive psychology and sensation and perception. I have been more interested in clinical based courses like clinical and abnormal psychology. It depends on what you are interested in. Try not to become discouraged about psychology when you encounter the types of courses that do not line up with your interests. Psychology is a surprisingly broad field of study and there are many different branches of it.           

I also advice you to get to know your professors. We are lucky to attend a college with a small class size compared to many large, state schools. It is easy to interact with your professors and have an academic relationship with those that align with your particular interests. Especially in the psychology department, professors love when students stop by their office hours to ask questions or just to chat. Making these connections will help you in the long run. There will come a time when you want to ask a professor for a research position or a letter of recommendation for either graduate school or a job. If they know you, they will be much more likely to be able to write you a great letter of recommendation.

Another way to get involved with faculty and your peers is to join the psychology club. Freshman year, almost every psychology major joins the psychology club but not nearly as many stick with it through out the four years. Staying actively involved in psychology clubs could even earn you a spot as president or vice-president of that club; a position which looks great on a CV or resume.

Lastly, I hope you enjoy the psychology department and the University of Scranton as much as I have. You will hear it a million times but it truly does pass by in the blink of an eye so try your best to appreciate and take advantage of it. This school gives it’s students so many opportunities for growth and achievement. You should feel proud to be a Royal!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

 

First and foremost congratulations on your new voyage. You are starting your first year of undergrad and that is a great milestone. You should acknowledge and celebrate your achievement. The next four years will be over before you know it.

I believe freshman year should focus on establishing relationships this includes professors! Do not be afraid or avoid making new friends or approaching your professors. Granted, not everyone you meet will become your best friend or your mentor. Most importantly, there will be times when you feel discouraged or others will attempt at discouraging you and that is normal. Try not to dwell on that. It is alright to not know what you are doing in the beginning and even at the end. Even as seniors, students are still unsure of what direction to head in.  You can seek guidance from the career center, professors, tutors, etc. Use the resources provided for you to your advantage. 

During the first week of classes professors will hand out their syllabi. I encourage you to take the time to read it thoroughly and plan accordingly. You can map out the entire semester. Every student’s experience is different. However, I did find rate my professor quite useful when it came to deciding what courses to take. Something I never grew accustomed to is that E-mail is the main source of communication here. It would be in your best interest to check your email daily. On some days it can save you a trip from having to walk all the way to a canceled class.

One thing I cannot stress enough is make sure that you and your advisor are a good fit. When you leave a meeting with your advisor you should not feel uneasy. He or she should give you advice for your advancement. Remember you can change to a different advisor if need be. Yes, advisors are there to assist with your scheduling, however they are human too and can overlook something. Be sure you know and understand your capp sheet. Study it! Know exactly what courses you are required to take in order to graduate. Be careful not to fall into academic probation. Maintain your GPA above a 2.0 because it will affect your financial aid/grants. Try and find a place to study it does not have to be the library. Personally, I hardly ever studied in the library. I would either go to LSC study rooms or study in my room. A lot of students find it distracting to study in their room. It does not matter where as long as it works for you and you feel the most productive. 

Time management is key. Priorities first but make time for friends and events too. The college experience is not always studying at the library. Set aside time for you too! Your health is important. Often times I found myself so caught up in work I would forget simple things, such as eating. Do not forget to eat, exercise, shower, and take power naps. Just be aware. After a while you will become tired of eating basically the same food at the cafeteria in DeNaples. By junior year I grew tired of the food here. There are other options beside DeNaples third floor and first floor. You can go over to the Big Pod on mulberry although if I am not mistaken as a freshman you have to use flex there. There is also Bleeker Street on the first floor of LSC (Loyola Science Center) and Einstein bagels in Leahy. I recommend the mango smoothie!

Something I wish I took advantage of while I was here is the open swim hours! They have a pool and a sauna. I also would have benefited from volunteering and being involved with different clubs. You should not miss out on the career fair. There are so many opportunities at the career fair. An internship looks great on a resume. When you graduate not only will you have your degree you will also have experience. Research about the organizations before going to the career fair, you will feel confident and prepared. Bring several copies of your resume with you. They may ask you for yours.

Over the course of four years at The University of Scranton to say it was an experience is an understatement. I am not sure on how to describe it but I know I am leaving here with something valuable. I think it is the sense of community or having purpose. With that said, good luck on your journey here and as many people have told me before this will be some of the best years of your life and before you realize you will be writing the same letter to the incoming freshmen.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Student,

            Welcome to the wonderful world that is the University of Scranton! As I was entering my freshman year at the U as an incoming psychology major, I’ve remained in the program throughout my four years. You may come into psychology with a confused vision of what you want to do, but hopefully the path you carve here will lead you to the next adventure in your life. As a senior looking back on my experiences at this place I’ve learned to call home, I’d like to share some words of wisdom with you as you embark on this journey.

            Every journey has its complications and one thing I suggest to you do to minimize those bumps along the way is to pick your battles. College is a time to learn, but I also know that it is a time to meet new people, make friends, and have fun. Not everyone you meet will become your friend and that is okay. Friendships can take a toll on people and in honesty not everyone you’re friends with your friends with your freshman year will be friends your senior year. You may gain some and lose some, some may come back, but you will always know who your real friends are in the end. Throughout your time at college you will make thousands of fantastic memories, and sometimes there will be moments that just need to be let go of.  College is a place of development to learn who you are, and the U and some of its professor will help you mold into what you want to be when you graduate (hopefully) four years from now.

            Another snippet I’d like to pass on and is possibly the most cliche thing you will hear going into college, is to get involved with professors that you share interests in. Professors are always doing research and the opportunity to become a research assistant is available to those who try to attain the position. I waited a long time to get involved in the research I was interested in, but once I was involved with the professor’s work and getting hands-on with actual information and putting my knowledge to the real world I knew what I wanted to do after undergraduate school. Also, building relationships with your professors is the best way to know what you as a student need to do to succeed in undergraduate school to go into the workforce, or if you want to further your schooling. I personally have loved majority of my professors, but you can’t get along with everyone. The relationships you build with your professors are similar to the ones you have with friends, they require work, keep in contact with professors you liked in class and visit them during office hours. These relationships are not only nice to have for research, but great when you come letter of recommendation time you can ask a professor you’re friendly with and know you’ve done well in their class to write one for you.

            The University is an amazing school with so many resources, USE THEM! I know you’ll hear about them incessantly each syllabus week of each semester, but that is because they are useful. Our expensive tuition pays for all of the resources and great food we have. If you go to office hours when you have questions, get a tutor, and go to the writing center there is no way you should fail a class. Professors tell you at the beginning of a class how many hours a week you should be putting in to pass the class and you will need to go beyond that to succeed! Effort is needed and you are going into higher education so it should be expected.

            My last piece of advice to you as you enter the grueling and stressful world that is college, breathe. High school did not prepare you for college (most likely), and this is an entirely different ball game. Everyone walking in to the freshman year is going through the same thing, everyone is wondering if they are struggling as much as the next person, or maybe you’re rocking it as a freshman and school comes naturally to you (props). Take care of yourself first, your professors will understand, but don’t slack off. Find your balance and everything will be okay! Our school has an amazing counseling center that helps anyone on campus who needs it, and the best thing to do when you need help is to ask for it.  No one is out to get you, and all of us from the Psychology Undergraduate Class of 2018 is rooting for you!

Sincerely,

A kind heart

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Dear Incoming Psychology Majors, welcome to AMH, your new “home” for the next four years. Prepare for four years of telling people you go to The University of Scranton, and their response being “so you watch the office?” or something along those lines. I’m here to share my personal experience with you, with high hopes that it will help you during your career here at “The U”. Unlike you, I transferred here my junior year, but similarly, I experienced the same first year stressors. I found myself missing home for the first 4-6 weeks, and I knew I wasn’t alone. I just might have been one of the few juniors experiencing extreme homesickness. I was never a strong test taker, and I found this weakness to be glaringly obvious during my first semester, not only in my psychology classes, but all of them. One thing I took advantage of was CTLE, there are so many resources there that help you when it comes time to prepare for exams. Even if you are not falling behind in any of your classes, it’s important to utilize the resources you’re provided to prevent possible deficiencies. I can honestly say that these past 2 years went by extremely fast. Although, at times it felt like the days weren’t going to end and I had some weeks that felt like months. This is inevitable, and it’s important to realize that it’s okay to not always be “put together”. I personally did not find it necessary to join any clubs or get involved with any psych related organizations, although I would highly suggest it to you. Being a transfer student isn’t much different than being an incoming freshman. All around me were established friend groups and existing relationships, so maybe joining a club or being more involved would have enhanced my experience. The psychology community here at the “U” is so small, so getting close to your peers, your future research partners, your future case study partners, and your future group project partners is critical.

Here is the part of the paper where I give you advice, and where I suggest you take everything I say with a grain of salt. You are now a full-fledged adult, you’re free to make mistakes on your own and encouraged to learn from them. For starters, the printer in the psychology lab is highly unpredictable (kind of like lunch on 3rd floor DeNaples), so never rely on it and never wait until last minute to print your important paper out. Next, I would highly recommend you become familiar with your peers within the psychology department, students and faculty. Like I said earlier, these are the faces of your future for the next four years. The likelihood of you having every professor in the department at least once is slim, although you should get to know them regardless of your current scheduled professors. You might find yourself unable to approach a teacher, not able to make office hours, or in a possible conflict, this is where having a connection with other professors comes in hand. Another big thing specific to the psychology major would be the absolute need to purchase the textbook. In some classes, you may be able to get away without it, but I would never recommend not purchasing a text for your major unless otherwise specified by your professor.

All in all, my experience here as a psychology major has been great. Scranton provides you all the resources to excel as an individual and become the best student you can be while here. It’s important that during your time here you not only think about the present, but the future also. Pay attention to the job market, especially in regards to the type of psychology you want to focus on. Also, don’t be afraid to declare a minor or even change majors completely. Psychology isn’t for everyone and don’t let the fear of not knowing keep you from changing your path.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Majors, welcome to AMH, your new “home” for the next four years. Prepare for four years of telling people you go to The University of Scranton, and their response being “so you watch the office?” or something along those lines. I’m here to share my personal experience with you, with high hopes that it will help you during your career here at “The U”. Unlike you, I transferred here my junior year, but similarly, I experienced the same first year stressors. I found myself missing home for the first 4-6 weeks, and I knew I wasn’t alone. I just might have been one of the few juniors experiencing extreme homesickness. I was never a strong test taker, and I found this weakness to be glaringly obvious during my first semester, not only in my psychology classes, but all of them. One thing I took advantage of was CTLE, there are so many resources there that help you when it comes time to prepare for exams. Even if you are not falling behind in any of your classes, it’s important to utilize the resources you’re provided to prevent possible deficiencies. I can honestly say that these past 2 years went by extremely fast. Although, at times it felt like the days weren’t going to end and I had some weeks that felt like months. This is inevitable, and it’s important to realize that it’s okay to not always be “put together”. I personally did not find it necessary to join any clubs or get involved with any psych related organizations, although I would highly suggest it to you. Being a transfer student isn’t much different than being an incoming freshman. All around me were established friend groups and existing relationships, so maybe joining a club or being more involved would have enhanced my experience. The psychology community here at the “U” is so small, so getting close to your peers, your future research partners, your future case study partners, and your future group project partners is critical.

Here is the part of the paper where I give you advice, and where I suggest you take everything I say with a grain of salt. You are now a full-fledged adult, you’re free to make mistakes on your own and encouraged to learn from them. For starters, the printer in the psychology lab is highly unpredictable (kind of like lunch on 3rd floor DeNaples), so never rely on it and never wait until last minute to print your important paper out. Next, I would highly recommend you become familiar with your peers within the psychology department, students and faculty. Like I said earlier, these are the faces of your future for the next four years. The likelihood of you having every professor in the department at least once is slim, although you should get to know them regardless of your current scheduled professors. You might find yourself unable to approach a teacher, not able to make office hours, or in a possible conflict, this is where having a connection with other professors comes in hand. Another big thing specific to the psychology major would be the absolute need to purchase the textbook. In some classes, you may be able to get away without it, but I would never recommend not purchasing a text for your major unless otherwise specified by your professor.

All in all, my experience here as a psychology major has been great. Scranton provides you all the resources to excel as an individual and become the best student you can be while here. It’s important that during your time here you not only think about the present, but the future also. Pay attention to the job market, especially in regards to the type of psychology you want to focus on. Also, don’t be afraid to declare a minor or even change majors completely. Psychology isn’t for everyone and don’t let the fear of not knowing keep you from changing your path.

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(#16)

Dear Incoming Psychology Major

            Welcome to the best four years of your life! I’m sure you’ve been hearing that a lot lately, and right now you may not think college will change you. I promise you though you will look back when you’re a senior and wonder how you’ve came this far and see how you’ve changed so much.

            Personally, I started college as an education major. And after two years I realized that I wanted to still help children, but not in a teacher-student setting. I wanted to work with the children on a one-on-one basis, so I decided to switch my major to psychology with plans to become a school psychologist. I was nervous at first, questioning if I made the right decision or not, which is perfectly okay. Sometimes it’s better to question ourselves, that way we’re mindful of our actions. Despite being scared, I knew right away once classes began that I had made the right decision. My first semester as a psychology major I took three psychology courses, my junior seminar class, and statistics. I have to say, I genuinely enjoyed almost every single one of those classes.

            I went into this new experience nervous, but eager to learn. In my previous major I felt at times as though I wasn’t being challenged enough, so I was eager to learn new information. Starting these classes, I was not disappointed. They were stimulating, interesting, and challenging, but not to an overwhelming extent. I was able to stay interested in the class, and not feel as though I’m being bombarded with information. My professors were involved, they were resourceful, and extremely knowledgeable. When I began the semester I thought that my statistics class would be the bane of my existence, but it ended up being one of my favorite classes. Thankfully I had one of the best professors who took the time to teach the information in great detail and made sure the material was understood before continuing on. She is one of my favorite professors here at the university and I hope you’re able to take as many classes as you can with her.

            That semester one the most useful classes for me ended up being my junior seminar course. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but it was the most useful class I’ve ever taken here. As an education major, I didn’t have much guidance or help from faculty in regards to preparing myself for the future. So it came to a surprise for me when I was required to take a course dedicated to preparing me for what’s to come ahead. We focused on job interviews, graduate school, CVs and résumés. Anything that was relevant to life after college we touched upon. And each assignment that we did was useful and insightful, we were never given any busy work which was great. This course will be one of the best you’ll take throughout your college career and you’ll be guided throughout the entire class by the psychology faculty.

            In regards to the psychology department faculty as a whole, I must say they’re the most helpful and resourceful that I’ve encountered. Of course, you may find that there are a few that don’t teach in the most sufficient way, or that they aren’t as accommodating as you would like. If you do encounter professors like this, that’s okay! You’ll find that no matter what your major is. The important thing to do in that situation is to work hard on your end. If you need to study more, get a tutor, or take notes a special way then do it. Professors are a great source of knowledge and resources, but sometimes you need to take things into your own hands if it comes down to it. From my experience though, I’ve had great professors in this department that through their enthusiasm for the subject and excellent teaching have encouraged me to do my best and get more involved with the material. I have to say you’re in pretty good hands!

            Now for some advice for your college experience overall. College is an amazing four years that will honestly change your life. I know it may seem intimidating at the moment, but soon enough you’re going to get the hang of it and then ask yourself why you’d ever leave this place. It’s completely different than high school though. The classes are harder and the stakes are higher, but you’re given more freedom and flexibility. Make sure to be diligent with your work, because you have goals for the future and you’re working towards them. At the same time, have fun and enjoy your years here. This is the time to make new friends, experience a new part of life with them, and enjoy it! Just make sure everything is done in moderation, don’t get too wild during your freshman year cause your grades are important too. Another piece of advice is to get involved! Every semester we throw a club fair when every club or sport is involved in enticing others into joining. There’s a plethora of options, and truly something for everything. One of my regrets from my freshman year is not getting involved more. It really is a great way to make friends, and immerse yourself into your college career.

            During these next four years, a lot changes, especially you. With a new environment, new friends and new experiences, there’s no way an individual can go through untouched. The most important piece of advice I can give to you is to take care of yourself during these new times. College is stressful, and you’ll be facing new challenges which may not be easy to handle. Please know that your mental health is important, and that taking care of it is one of the most significant things you can do. There are outlets and resources here that can help you through it all. We have an amazing counseling center which can offer you therapy whenever you need. Also, we have retreats that you can go on that are truly life changing. You’ll have faculty members, friends, or your RA who can help you with whatever needs you may have. It’s important to know that you won’t be alone during your time here, and that whatever hardships you may experience that you have support from all over.

            Above all, enjoy your time here as a psychology student at the University of Scranton. You’re about to begin the best four years of your life. I envy you! You get to experience this place for the first time. If I could go back to freshman year, I’d tell myself to make the most of the time I had here. Now I’m a senior, getting ready to graduate soon, and I wish I had more time. Although my time here is almost up, I’m beyond grateful for everything that Scranton has given me, and for the person I am now because of it. It’s been a privilege to go to this school, and I’m thankful for every moment here both the good and the bad. So enjoy your next four years here, because before you know it you’ll be in my shoes crying while writing your letter to the incoming freshman.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton and making the choice to be a psychology major! You’ll find that this field of study opens up countless opportunities for you. You have an incredible group of professors who will share their passion with you. Here are a few prominent lessons I’ve learned that I’d like to pass on to you as you begin.

            Psychology alone is an excellent choice of major. Learning about the human mind is certainly one of the most useful majors. Fortunately for you, it is also one of the most flexible. There are so many ways to combine your major with another major, a minor or two, or a concentration. As you take classes to fulfill your General Education requirements or participate in honors programs, you may find another area that interests you. Many areas go quite well with psychology and your study of psychology can enhance your learning in other areas. Explore opportunities for double majors, minors, and concentrations—it will make you seem more well-rounded once you’re looking for a job or to get into a graduate school.

            Additionally, seek out psychology-related experiences like faculty labs and internships. We are lucky to have faculty specializing in so many areas of psychology; getting involved in their research can teach you so much more about that field than a semester could. The hands-on experience is fascinating. Similarly, the department’s internship program is an excellent opportunity to get some real-world experience, particularly if you think applied psychology will be more suited to your interests. Both research and internships allow you to test out the life of a grad student or working applied psychologist and can help you make a seemingly daunting decision about your future.

            Speaking of making daunting decisions about your future, my last piece of advice is one I’m sure you’ve heard many times. It’s worth saying again: take some time to get to know your professors. One of the perks of being at a smaller school is that you’ll take classes with 30 other people, not 300. Professors will know you by name. This will be extremely valuable to you throughout your time here. I went to multiple psychology professors for help with the graduate school process. I had a wonderful advisor, but that professor’s area was more clinically-oriented and I wanted to focus on research. Though the professors I sought help from had their own list of advisees, they spent hours in my last couple semesters here helping me polish my personal statement, look for schools, and get over the crushing Imposter Syndrome once I committed to a PhD program. They also wrote me two very-personal letters of recommendation that certainly set me apart from other candidates. When professors really get to know your character and all your strengths (and weaknesses!), they can write highly personalized letters that will truly make you stand out.

            So, welcome! Enjoy your time here because before you know it you’ll be writing one of these letters. Augment your study of psychology with other interests, get involved, and get to know your professors. You’ve selected a fascinating field of study and I hope you find it gratifying. Good luck!

Sincerely,

Wistful Psychology Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Hello! Welcome to the University of Scranton. I am sure you have received many welcomes from your RA, your OA, your teachers, and more, but this welcome is in letter format! How cool is that? Who am I, you may ask? I am a senior psychology major here to guide you through your next four years. So, take the time to read this and heed the advice I give you.

First things first, do not be afraid. College is all about choices. You get to choose everything. You are on your own, so don’t be afraid to try a new sport. Try a skill you don’t know that much about. When I first arrived, I was afraid to get involved on campus and did not do much. I was bored by this and by the end of the year, I managed to get involved in every part of campus from residence life to the programming board. It is so much fun to get involved around campus, whether in sports or a new job. Don’t be afraid of failure. College is a time to learn and grow, so go do that.

The next important thing I would keep in mind is to hit the ground running with school work. The first semester is always the hardest because you must prepare for living on your own and studying for your own classes. The best advice I can give you is to find the best place on campus for you to study away from people. For me, the third floor of the library did the trick because it was quiet, but not too quiet that people would yell at me for eating Pringles. Also, don’t study with friends. Studies that I made up show that one gets less work done when around friends.

Psychology is a cool major. The teachers are fun, and a lot of the classes are unique. Some may be more fun than others, but that happens with all majors. One thing I want to stress though is to go into everything with an open mind. There were some teachers I really disliked until a month after their class. I did not like a way they taught or how they treated students, but then reflecting on it later, I really understood why they did that. So take your time to make your own opinions of the professors and don’t let others influence it.

Intramurals and clubs are also key. College is all about finding fun activities that will help destress you from the mountains of work you will be getting assigned. I did volleyball. Even though I was awful at it, it was so much fun to do. A successful first-year is not only successful in their classes, but successful in finding ways to destress. I also taught myself to love going to the gym; it was annoying at first, but I soon grew to love it.

Be friends with your teacher! This piece of information will get you far. It is important to talk to them and listen in class because they will always be ready to help you when you need it. They care about your grade and they want you to succeed, so allow that.  Answer questions in class because even if you are wrong, they will understand you care. Also, use office hours whenever you are confused with anything in class. There is a lot going on in some classes, so if something confuses you, ask them. You will thank me later.

Just enjoy your next four years. As I write this, I am really reflecting on what I did and what I didn’t do and most of what I did do in the end was because I went out of my comfort zone. I was so glad I did. College is a good time for new things because there is not a lot of time to try them after your four years at The University of Scranton. Take your time, join a club, do an intramural; the opportunities are endless.

Get ready for the best four years of your life. As I write this letter, I am filled with happiness about my adventure through the University. You now have an experience to live. I will leave you with a quote from Doctor Emmet Brown, “The future is what you make of it, so make it a good one”. Go set the world on fire.

                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                A Random Graduating Senior

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            Welcome to your four-year study of human behavior! I’m not sure what brought you here whether it was Sigmund Freud or the fulfillment you get from people watching, however I’m so happy you are now where I began. This is such an exciting time because you are about to be transformed into the best version of you. There are two things I hope you will get out of this, the first is how to pass your classes and the second is how to live your best life in college.

The best advice I received was use psychology to study psychology. You are going to experience a lot of structural consistency across your classes, so your best bet is to form a habit of studying that is most comfortable for you as early as possible. Each course will likely have PowerPoint and textbook content, weekly quizzes and 1-2 application papers. The best way I studied was to write out my lecture notes, rewrite the notes onto notecards, and then quiz myself with my own practice test. I know that may seem like a lot of work at first, but repetitive exposure helps code the information better into your long-term memory.

As the semesters go by you are going to feel like you have a ton of information and are unsure what to do with it, but that’s ok. You don’t need to know yet; you just need to know that you are still interested in psychology in whatever way that means to you. There are so many branches of psychology that it’s almost better to not know what you want until you are so drawn to an area of research that you believe the forces are guiding you. That may not happen until graduate school too, so be easy on yourself. I remember sophomore year I had an existential crisis of not knowing what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and who I wanted to become, but the only thing I needed to do was eat because I was hungry and the rest just naturally fell into place.

Here are three musts with the added big and bold emphasis:

  1. ASK QUESTIONS
  2. TRY EVERYTHING AT LEAST ONCE
  3. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your best resources are not going to be the textbooks, but the lived experiences of other human beings. Ask your teachers, classmates, supervisors, maintenance staff, and chefs anything that comes to your mind. Always be curious. The last thing I would wish for is for you to feel you over identified with your textbooks and felt you missed out with what is going on in the world. So, interact with anyone and everyone!

I met my best friend through attending a college club event that I didn’t want to be at. We became best friends because she didn’t want to be there either. I figured out my next direction in life by talking to someone I really didn’t want to talk to that day. So, try everything once, even if you really don’t want to, because I am so grateful I had. You learn something from everyone and every experience, even if it’s only learning something about yourself.

Please. Please. Please. Take care of yourself. Eat three times a day, take advantage of nice weather, and exercise your body and your mind. I know it’s easier said than done so, here are some books that taught me how to become my best self: Feeling Good by David D. Burns; Presence by Amy Cuddy; The Power of Now by Eckhart Tole; The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire by Deepak Chopra; You are The Placebo by Joe Dispenza; and Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Goodluck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            You are probably getting a little overwhelmed right now, what with all the new classes, responsibilities, and people you are surrounded by. Do me a quick favor and just take a deep breath and look around. Soak in the memories before things really get hectic. If you ask me you have the best psych departments in the country, granted I may be a little biased. Anyways, I have few thoughts to share with you so bear with me. College is really about experience, growth, and learning.

            The experience you can gain from a place like this is limitless, so get involved. Professors are always looking for curious students to work in their labs, so keep an eye and an ear out for those open spots and grab them as soon as you can. Doing research is a privilege that lots of psych students never get, whereas I managed to get into two different labs. All the labs are different, studying different things, and have different professors at their heads. Even if you can’t get into a lab, take as many classes as you can. Unlike other majors you were smart enough to pick a major that covers nearly every aspect of life. If you try everything you will find stuff you do and don’t like, that will inevitably benefit you going forward.

            I know that last paragraph was really cliché, what with the whole “do everything and try everything” talk that everyone high school and college admissions person gives. All those experiences are to help you grow. Welcome to the big leagues, YOU ARE AN ADULT NOW, which means you are PERSONALLY responsible for your actions. Most professors will treat you like an adult so please act like one. Firstly, show up to class, you may not want to go but that is why you are at college. Secondly, if you are going to miss an assignment, quiz, or test on account of some extracurricular, send the most courteous email you can think of to the professor and ask them if there is a way to make it up or work around it, lots will. That being said, do NOT wait until the day before it is due or the due date to ask for an extension. That is not going to fly and will make them even less likely to show you any mercy. Finally, remember that is your last chance to get into the habit of being an adult, so get in the habit. IF you can really get good at adulting, you will be strides ahead of many of your peers.

            College is a learning experience, and I don’t entirely mean your coursework. You will learn how to build friendships and relationships then how to handle them when they come crashing down in dramatic fashion. I recommend learning really quickly how to be calm and collected with people because you can avoid most of the drama that way. Amidst all those friends you will probably learn how much you physically handle, whether that means how long you can go without sleep or how long you can sleep for afterwards. Keep hold of those fuzzy moments but remember that not all limits are made to be broken, trust me.

I really hope this has been an informative letter about all the experience, growth, and learning that you will encounter in college. It truly is a one of a kind experience and major. I will leave you with one final thought. Please just remember that “due date” and “do date” are not the same thing and no you cannot do it all the night before.   

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 Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to the University of Scranton!  I hope you have a wonderful experience here and have as much fun studying psychology as I did!  I know it can be a little overwhelming at first, especially if graduate school is on your mind.  My first word of advice is to take things one step at a time.  Although it is important to consider the future, do not stress too much about it.  Enjoy the moment and fully immerse yourself in your present learning experience.  Your teachers and advisors will then help you throughout your journey and assist you if you wish to pursue further education.  Just remember: College isn’t a competition.

            One aspect of psychology I truly loved was how many different classes and topics were available.  Don’t be afraid to try something a little out of your comfort zone or something that you never thought about trying.  For example, I took a Sensation & Perception psychology class and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it because of how different it was from other psychology classes.  It ended up being my favorite class!  Try new things and don’t be afraid to see your teachers if you need help or have any questions. 

            One regret I do have is not getting involved as much as I could have.  If I could go back, I’d apply to the psychology honors program and talk to teachers about any research experience opportunities.  Part of me not doing so was because I was unaware of these options.  I would suggest taking the time to look around the psychology department and talk to upperclassmen to find new experiences and opportunities.  If you have a specific interest in a given subject, talk to your professor and see if maybe you can be a teaching assistant for a class or join a research team.  I was a teaching assistant for a Sports Psychology class and it was an exciting experience. 

            The professors here are very open and love helping out students.  These professors will know each of you by name and will make conversation with you.  I could name a handful of times when I was on my way in or out of a class and I found myself in a conversation with a professor about something non-academic related such as a recently released movie or a sports game.  After a few semesters, you will notice more familiar faces in your psychology classes and possibly even have a professor for more than one class.  Take this as an opportunity to get to know one another and share experiences.  One of my favorite feelings was walking into a classroom in the beginning of a semester and being greeted by many familiar faces.  Think of your major as one big team.

            Getting involved in the psychology club is another fantastic way of engaging with fellow peers.  In the club, we have fun events such as a BBQ and a Christmas tree decorating party.  We also have lectures from guest speakers that are very interesting.  Hearing some of these lectures helped me discover my interests.  I attended a lecture on a study one of the professors did regarding love and commitment in an evolutionary perspective.  After hearing this, I became very intrigued by the psychology behind relationships and love and it gave me ideas on what kind of classes to take and potential careers. 

            So don’t be afraid to try new things and really invest yourself in what the psychology department has to offer.  But most importantly, enjoy your time here and have fun with psychology!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations! Welcome to the University of Scranton. I hope you are excited about the journey you are about to begin. This is your chance to show who you are and what you have to offer. Being here is a blessing, and you should never take any day for granted. So make sure you get involved. I know that you have probably heard it a million times but it is not a joke. Getting involved allows you to not only meet new friends, but it allows you to get close with professors and staff who also get involved. It also gives you a chance to get involved in maybe a way you have never done before. It could open up so many new experiences but you will never know if you don’t try things.

            Always be open to trying new things. Starting college is the next step of your life and you can chose to be anyone you want. Be willing to do something you have never done before like joining a club you have never been a part of. Join the psych club! It is a great way to meet the other students in the major and get to know them since you will be with them for four years. It is important to have friends who are also struggling through the same stuff you are, and it makes taking the major field classes less stressful and feel more easy-going since you will see the same group of kids throughout your years here.

            Take advantage of your professor’s office hours and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your professors schedule those hours so they can make time to help you with any questions you may have. Even if your schedule does not work with theirs, do not be afraid to email and asked them to meet at a different time because most of the time the professor would be willing to set up a certain time to meet. Your professors are also not out to get you. I know it may seem like some of them grade unfairly or are too picky when grading but do not let you discourage you. You will just have to get use to the way they teach and run their class, since each professor is different, and if you are still struggling through the work, there are always other options to find help. Do not be afraid to go to CTLE for tutoring. The tutoring services here are amazing and they really are a lot of help. They set you up with a student who has already taken the course and ask you to meet once a week for a study session. It can really make a difference on your grade and whether you get the A- or the B+.  If you are taking a course with a teacher you are not familiar with, always use rate my professor. The ratings on the website are constructed by other students who have taken that professor and shows you have good or bad they are. It is a great way to avoid teachers who may be hard to have in class.

            A final piece of advice that I have for you is simple: enjoy your time here and make the most of everything you do here every day.  College is supposed to the greatest four years of your life so make it happen! Sit in AMH all day and enjoy the building you will be living out of the next four years. Make sure to be the best of friends with Donna from the office and never rely on the broken printer in the psychlab, it will always disappoint you. Good luck and have a wonderful four years here at the U! It goes by way too fast, so make it worth it.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            First, let me start off by congratulating you on your acceptance to the University of Scranton! It is a wonderful university full of numerous opportunities to explore not only for the development of your career, but the development of yourself as an individual.

            I started out in this University undecided as to what career path I wished to follow. It was not until my spring semester sophomore year that I found the major I would call my home for the following four semesters. What I learned from this experience is that it is ok to not be sure what you want and where you’re going. With time and free electives to explore all the classes the university has to offer, the career path you suited for you falls right into your lap. Also do not be afraid to change majors if you feel that this one is not right for you. There’s plenty of classes that will overlap with other majors allowing you to graduate on time. While you’re at it pick up a second major or minor. The psychology department’s required classes you leave plenty of room to explore other fields. I declared my minor spring semester junior year and had plenty of time to finish it. It’s never too late!

            Get to know your professors! We are lucky to have small class sizes here, so you will have the opportunity to get to know your teachers, as well as your peers on a more personal level. Take advantage of office hours if you need help, need academic advice, or simply just to chat.

            A major thing I learned in college is risks verse rewards. Being sort of shy, my first two years of school I really only hung out with my teammates. Do not be afraid to take a risk and put yourself out there. I would have missed out on meeting a lot of amazing individuals that are a part of this Scranton community had I not branched out my last two years here. Also don’t worry if your freshmen friends don’t become your forever friends. Freshmen year is a whole new experience and every single person is trying to make friends. That being said, some friendships will eventually fade into acquaintances, but seeing friendly faces on campus is always nice.

            Get involved in as many clubs as you can. Not only will you make friends and memories, it helps a lot with time management skills. I felt that the more clubs I got involved in, the better I was able to balance out my time because I had to plan ahead. Balance it key! While you are here to go to school, don’t be afraid to let lose every now and again. You won’t look back at your four years and remember one poor quiz grade, but you will remember that afternoon you took off to go to Roba’s Farm with your friends.

            Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They prove to be a great learning experience and normally means you tried something new. That being said, try everything! Dive head first into this amazing journey you are about to experience. Most important of all, remember to live in each and every moment because before you know it your four years here will come to a close and you will be writing a letter of your own. Good luck!

 Wishing you the best four years you could ever imagine,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on joining the Scranton community! The most important piece of advice I can give you is good luck. It is cliché, and everyone says it but genuinely good luck. College isn’t easy with all the changes that will occur in this short period of time. This is your time to build the life you want for yourself. Find your niche, and don’t let someone else dictate your path. The University of Scranton is your place to do wonderful things.

            As a psychology major, you are making yourself available to a world of opportunities. People told me I wouldn’t make money in psychology, but that it not what matters and it isn’t true. You can use the education from the psych department to take you anywhere in the world. I mean I studied psych all four years and I’ll be off to law school in two years. Anything can happen. Use electives to tailor your major and make it fun for yourself. If you want to take extra history courses, do it! Want to be an accountant too? Take those accounting classes! Languages are a great way to fill space too and when you’re searching for jobs, it will set you apart later.  

            Everyone will tell you how much fun they had in college, but it isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. As for making friends, don’t expect to find your forever friends or your one true love. Everyone is still growing up. People still grow apart, and that is okay. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t get to know people though. Everyone here “knows a guy” for everything, so get to know people; networking is an important part of being a student here. You never know how the secretary of a random department can help you until they do, and that is the best part of the Scranton community.

Most importantly, this is the time to work on yourself and get to know yourself and your limits, your strengths and your weaknesses. Things get hard at school, but you have to keep moving forward even when staying in bed and watching Netflix sounds like the better option. One day you will look back at all of these homework assignments, seemingly unnecessary books you’ve read, and they will just be a thing of the past. Give college the best you’ve got because you get one chance to be young, so you shouldn’t waste your time. Make every day count. Try not to let days go by without being productive because those days will pile up. It is so easy to fall behind. Get organized and stay organized. Make up a schedule. Don’t leave out self-care days. Whether it is Wednesday afternoon or an hour before bed, it is important to treat yourself every once in a while.
            My favorite part about college was travelling. Don’t forget to travel. This is the time in your life when travelling is beneficial. I’m not talking about Cancun for spring break or your Long Island beach house on the weekends. I mean get out there; go to places that other people are afraid to go to and learn something worth learning. You will learn things about yourself that you would never imagine. Take any opportunity to get out of the country whether it is for a semester or a few weeks. I’ll let you in on a secret: the psychology major is one of the most open majors available when it comes to skipping a semester here or there. You have a lot of elective space, so make use of it. Trips abroad aren’t cheap, but don’t let that hold you back from raising money to go. If you spend the money on the experience, you’ll be happier than buying that new Michael Kors bag everyone is hounding over. 

            You’ve been given an opportunity to attend a prestigious university, so ride with it. The worse that will happen is you realize this isn’t “your” place. It’s okay to not love Scranton. It’s even okay not to like the people you are surrounded with, but this is the start of learning those things. If this is your place, embrace the corny sayings people have for Scranton and let them guide you throughout this journey. Some of the general education classes are annoying, but looking back, I made class choices that made me a better me. Sounds cheesy, I know but it is true. You will succeed! Take your time! Breathe! You got this!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Take a step back and breathe. Coming into the University of Scranton is exciting, scary, and feels like you’re moving 100 miles an hour! I came into the university as a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. I had already looked up the academic catalogue and planned out what classes I should take for my 8 semesters here. I knew that after my time at Scranton I would go on a year of service and then law school back at home. Needless to say I am a planner. You do not have to be like me to succeed in Scranton!

            I choose to be a Psychology major because I was curious about how the mind worked. I had taken AP Psychology in high school and it was fascinating. Human development was most interesting to me. I took childhood psychology, adult psychology, abnormal psychology, and childhood abnormal psychology. These classes where my absolute favorites. As a freshman Psychology major student look at the classes offered and think about what you want to learn. Go to class, listen to the lecture, and ask questions when your confused. Make your psychology classes your environment to thrive.

The most important thing I learned during my time here is to be open minded. I came to Scranton knowing no one. Stepping into my first year residence hall I was very nervous. I made it my mission to not be shy and open up to my hallmates. My best friend here at Scranton was made because after our first resident hall meeting I went up to her and said “do you want to go to dinner with me?” We hit it off immediately! I would not have made friends as easily as I did if I was not open minded.

I was also open minded with academics. I not only took classes in my double majors, but I also took classes in other areas of study. I took Mandarin Chinese, art history, human biology, and others. One of the benefits of a Jesuit education is the emphasis on cura personalis and magis. Care of the whole person and the more. Not only was I enriched in an academic way, but also a spiritual one. I view the “more” as striving for excellence. Going beyond just the average. I believe Scranton students are a special type of student. A Scranton student has an innate push to do better.

I was finally open minded with opportunities. During on of my classes a guest speaker came in and I immediately wanted to do an internship with them. I approached them after the presentation and requested an internship. It was one of my best decisions at Scranton. I went on a couple of freshman retreats and then was asked to lead one! I shaped my extracurriculars with what made me happy. Some people may have called me lucky, but I was more so just open to every opportunity that came my way.

My time at Scranton was amazing! Great classes and lasting friendships. I cannot wait to propel myself into the future. I know that I have a solid foundation from my time at the University of Scranton.             

Good luck,

A graduating senior

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(#26)

  Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            I can say with all honesty that when I read this letter when I was a freshman I did not take it as serious as I could have. It sounded to idealistic and I do not remember paying attention to any advice or warnings that the student offered me. I hope that this letter gets you excited but also keeps your expectations realistic about the journey that you have just only begun. These past years have been, without a doubt, the best years of my life. This is a time where you truly can grow as a person because for the first time you are alone in a new environment. One big thing I have learned is that the first two weeks are the hardest for everyone. Everyone I am friends with now wanted to transfer and thank god they did not because we have had the best times together, so do not let those weeks determine the rest of your college career.

The biggest piece of advice that a graduate student told me was, if you are able to, pick up a double major or a minor as soon as possible, and take courses that will actually matter in your desired career or in subjects that genuinely interest you. I took a course in music history and it was one of my worst experiences because I had no interest in the subject. It may be more work to take courses that will directly apply to your career path, but it will definitely help you out in the long run. I wish I realized that earlier than my junior year. If you do pick up a major call the registrar and make sure you have an advisor for both majors. I was not aware that this was an option for me and it resulted in my schedule being behind others and I had to fill my last few semesters with more difficult classes.

Our psychology program is great for fostering professor-student relationships, but this only happens if you are not shy! Talk to your professors because they are here to help you and give you advice. Making yourself known will help you in the long run and if you are planning on going to get an advanced degree it will help to have letters of recommendations from faculty that  have worked closely with you so that they can give a more accurate representation of who you truly are rather than giving you blanket description. Reach out to professors that are doing research that is similar to your interests and ask to get involved, even if it is only minimally. I got involved early on and it allowed me to go to conferences and get a chance to see different career paths that are available after college. I also got a chance to network with awesome researchers and explore potential graduate school programs that are doing similar research to mine. If research doesn’t interest you find other ways to get involved. There are multiple psychology clubs and opportunities on campus to get involved with. One of the most underused resources on campus is the career center and they offer help in resume building and finding internships, definitely utilize their services.

One thing I learned quick was to be open to rejection. A big part of college is going out on a limb and sometimes it does not work out the way you envisioned. If you allow that rejection to prevent you from pursuing future endeavors it will hurt you in the long run. Especially since it is becoming increasingly competitive to get into graduate programs you need to be able to “bounce back” and learn what you can improve on or how to present yourself in a different way next time.

College is not only about academics and GPAs which is hard to remember, especially during the dreaded finals week. This is one of the only times in life where you have the time and the resources to explore who you really are. Join clubs that interest you and stick with them, study abroad because you probably won’t get another opportunity to learn in a different country, make time to hang out with friends and take study breaks often! These years will fly by and you are going to want to remember more than just psychological theories and how to run statistical analyses in SPSS. These years could be amazing but you have to put in the work to make them what you want them to be, do not be a backseat driver, take control of your time here and continue to grow as an individual. Enjoy your short time here at The University of Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            You have an amazing opportunity in front of you.  You are entering a program in an incredible field with some of the most dedicated, interesting, and intelligent professors I have had the privilege to meet.  I hope that you will use my advice to make the most of your time as a psychology student at the University of Scranton.

My first piece of advice is to be open to changing your mind.  Maybe you always wanted to be a therapist, but you will soon start considering research.  Maybe you thought you wanted to be a cognitive psychologist, but you will soon start considering social psychology.  Some of you will keep your original career goals, but many of you will change your minds.  You may even change your major.  I came into the university with a different major, and changing to psychology was one of the best choices I ever made.  Know that there is no shame in changing your mind.  In fact, it is a good thing because it means you are figuring out what is best for you.

            Second, take classes in other subject areas.  College is your chance to learn about anything and everything.  There are so many fields out there with diverse, exciting topics for you to explore.  You may never have another chance to take classes in other subjects.  When you look back on college, you don’t want to say to yourself, “I wish I had taken classes in computer science, sign language, and creative writing.”  I personally highly recommend philosophy.

            Along the lines of taking the opportunity to try something new, consider going abroad.  I did not want to go for a whole semester and was able to go on a two-week abroad trip during January.  There are also summer abroad opportunities.  I do not know a single person who went abroad and regretted it.  Many people who study abroad consider it one of the most positive and transformative experiences of their lives.

            My next piece of advice may seem obvious.  Keep your grades up.  You may think that grades early on do not matter as much, but they do.  If you want to go to graduate school (or get certain jobs), you will need a strong GPA.  You may also need experiences such as research, internships, or teaching assistantships.  Professors are not going to want you to be their research or teaching assistant if you have not shown them that you are hardworking and knowledgeable.

            It helps to have a plan and stick to it.  Find out what degree is required for the career you want and what you need to do to earn that degree and eventually job.  I recommend having a written plan of what classes and activities you plan to join and when.  This is particularly important if you have a double major, a minor, or an honors program.  You need to make sure you have time to fill all the requirements.  Get experience as early as you can.  Do not wait until your senior year and realize you have not done anything.

            I also recommend that you talk to your professors.  If you have questions about different career options or classes, they are knowledgeable and can help.  If you have questions about applying to graduate programs – which, if you’re planning on applying to grad school, you will –ask.  You do not have to figure everything out on your own.  Particularly in this university’s psychology department (in my slightly biased opinion), the professors are not only willing but also excited to help you.

            Finally, find a good work-life balance.  Take time for yourself, spend time with your friends and family, relax, and exercise.  In addition to having immense academic opportunities, you have many opportunities to have fun, try new activities, and meet lifelong friends.

            I hope you find my advice helpful, that you enjoy being part of the best field in the world (again, slightly biased), and that your time as a psychology student at Scranton is as fantastic as mine has been.  Good luck, and I wish you all the best as you embark on your college journey. 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance to The University of Scranton as well as choosing the psychology department to guide you on this new chapter in your life. The transition from high school to college may be overwhelming and challenging, but it is also exciting and life changing. You will gain independence, meet your best friends, make connections with professors and alumni, and receive a prestigious education. From a graduating senior to an incoming freshman, I will provide what I wish I knew when I was in your shoes.

            The field of psychology is very versatile. The University of Scranton offers required core courses as well as many interesting and beneficial electives. It is important to view these courses on the online catalog and match their descriptions to your career goals. It is important to plan ahead of time! Some courses are only offered certain semesters and certain years. I would suggest planning your schedules for the next four years in order to fit in all of your desired courses. There is a lot of freedom picking classes to fulfill the psychology major program. I would advise adding minors and concentrations. Many of the psychology courses tend to overlap with other courses of different minors and concentrations, especially the Counseling and Human Services minor and the Human Development concentration. Another suggestion that involves planning is to view honor society requirements in order to get a head start on taking the prerequisites.

            The psychology faculty and students are dedicated and helpful. The psychology department selects an academic advisor for you. It is important to feel comfortable with your advisor and ensure they are meeting your needs. It is possible to switch advisors. There are many research and mentor opportunities with the faculty. You can also apply to be a teacher assistant for your favorite classes. If you are interested in attending graduate school or have an interest in one of the faculty’s research, I would recommend taking advantage of these opportunities as soon as possible. The professors want you to succeed. I would suggest going to class, paying attention in class, asking questions, going to office hours, and attend review sessions whenever they are held. You should take advantage of the small classes to get to know your professors and peers. I would suggest making friends within your major. You can plan to take courses together, form study groups, and have friends who understand your major and workload. I highly recommend joining and becoming an active participant in the Association for Psychological Sciences Student Caucus (APSSC) and Psychology Club as well as other clubs to make friends outside of your major.

Lastly, preparing for interviews and networking are important for every student. The career services office has a great staff that is willing to help write your resume or CV and provide mock interviews for graduate schools, internships, and jobs as well as explore other majors and career opportunities. They will also reach out to graduates to help pursue your career goals. It is a great source of information and guidance. The University of Scranton alumni are also a great resource. The alumni provide many connections and opportunities to the undergraduate students. I would suggest reaching out to the alumni for information, advice, and possible internships. I hope you stay connected with your professors and peers.

The University of Scranton will provide you an education, personal growth, and prepare you for success. Take advantage of planning your schedule in advance, become an active student and club member, make connections and make friends, and prepare for your future. Most importantly, be yourself and have fun! These are going to be some of the best years of your life. Take one step at a time, reflect on your experiences, and enjoy every moment. I wish you the best of luck as you begin your Scranton journey!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Firstly, congrats on your acceptance into the psychology program at the University of Scranton! Once you are placed in the college environment, you will quickly realize how many opportunities await you at this school. You will not only become a brighter student, but also a well-rounded, matured individual.

            Although it sounds cliché, my college experience was a roller coaster of highs and lows. It took a while for me to adjust to the life of a college student. Because I began as a neuroscience major, I was taking very difficult classes that I did not enjoy whatsoever. It took two years before I finally realized I wanted to switch my major to psychology. My original interest in psychology began once I started taking psychology courses, which were required for my neuroscience major. During class and outside of class, I had many questions for my professor regarding the concepts we were taught during our lectures. He encouraged my inquisitiveness and made me realize how much I enjoyed the field of psychology. This experience is what led me to switching my major to psychology. Although this professor passed away, I will always remember him and the impact he had on me as a student.

            Some advice I would give to you as an incoming freshman would be to attend class regularly. Because I am not a morning person, I have overslept my morning classes quite often. It is okay to skip class when you are sick or have an emergency. The more skips you take, the more it will negatively affect your grade. Using more skips than you are given by your professor results in a lower participation grade. In addition, you will miss a surprising amount of material and not perform as well on weekly quizzes and exams.

            It is also important that you know psychology is a challenging major. Although you may have to drop, switch, or retake a course, do not let it discourage you. There may be times where you will have to pull all-nighters, not do as well as you expected, and even moments where you feel so defeated that you cry. However, this is normal among college students and there are many ways to prevent this from happening. One such way would be to take courses that spark your interest. For example, I enjoy the biological aspects of psychology so I made it a priority to take sensation and perception as well as cognitive psychology. It is more likely that you will do better in classes you enjoy taking than classes you are taking simply to acquire credits. These courses will also help you realize what you wish to do with your life following college.

            One of my biggest regrets was not applying to be a teaching assistant. There are many benefits from being a teaching assistant. Being a teaching assistant will make you stand out among your peers when applying to graduate school and jobs. It is also puts your foot in the door for other opportunities, such as being able to do independent research with your professor. Teaching assistants tend to have closer relations with their professors as well, which could benefit you in the future when professional references are needed. The professors I have formed close relations with have also served as great sources for advice.

            My final piece of advice is that you get involved around campus, whether it be clubs, sports, or any other extracurricular activities. These clubs do not necessarily have to be related to your major. However, being a member of the psychology club has helped me get to know other students in my major. Joining extracurricular activities that are not related to your major will also benefit you. This not only gives you the opportunity to make more friends, but also helps you network among your peers.

            Although my four years at the University of Scranton have been the most difficult years of my life, this experience has made me become an adult. I have matured and gained more confidence in my abilities. Both my negative and positive experiences here have taught me lessons that I will carry with me for years following graduation. 

Best of luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Freshman,

            If I were to sum up what I have learned over my past four years as a Psychology major, I could compile my knowledge into three major statements of advice:

  • Keep an eye on your end goal, but make sure to look up from your books.
  • Majoring in Psychology does not mean you have to become a Psychologist. In fact, you do not even have to stay within the field of Psychology after you graduate.
  • Do not let expectations scare you.

Psychology, so I have learned, is the study of the mind and how it reacts and behaves under certain conditions. You will learn some fascinating information about just how capable the mind is and hopefully develop a passion to continue studying this diverse field for the rest of your career. However, more importantly, through studying Psychology, I learned about my own mind and how I can use that knowledge to my advantage throughout my college experience. Psychology has emphasized self-care in my own life, as I have learned that taking care of my mind is equally, if not more important, than maintaining good grades.

By this, I mean take study breaks often and make sure you do something good for yourself every single day. You can absolutely study hard and keep your eye on the end goal while still leaving plenty of time to enjoy everything this incredible university has to offer. When you look back at your Scranton experience, you will want your degree in Psychology, but more importantly, you will want positive memories from along the way. Study hard, but remember, college is so much more than just what is in the books.

Secondly, do not forget to keep an open mind about the possibilities that exist from a Psychology background. For the longest time, I was overwhelmed by the idea of feeling like every field of Psychology I explored was not the right fit for me. I became frustrated that I would end up graduating with a degree that would not get me to where I want to go. My advice to you is to remember that receiving a degree in Psychology does not necessarily mean that you must study Psychology. Psychology can be an excellent Segway into so many other disciplines. Find your passion and know that whatever that is, you certainly incorporate it into your studies as a Psychology major.

Expectations from high school to college change drastically and even more drastically from college to graduate school or the work force. Over the next four years, you will hear advice from a variety of different sources including professors, other students, parents, and any other place imaginable. As a result, it is very possible that you will become overwhelmed and potentially stressed at just how many expectations it seems you need to fulfill. You will hear that you absolutely have to receive certain grades with certain GRE scores to be accepted to a particular school, that if you do not volunteer a certain number of hours a week your resume will not be complete, and that there are not enough tests in a semester to afford to do poorly on one. I promise you, regardless of what anyone tells you, schools or employers will see that you are so much more than grades or numbers of hours on a page. Participate in activities that you enjoy, and you will leave Scranton more than prepared for wherever you decide to chase your dreams.  

Sincerely,

A once doubtful student who ended up making it

(You can too) 

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(#31)

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton, and for choosing Psychology as your major. The Psychology Department has some wonderful professors and academic opportunities. While it may seem like a long road ahead of you, trust me, your time here will fly by. So take advantage of every opportunity! As a senior psychology major, I have some advice I would like to give you that I have learned from my time here.

            I came to the University of Scranton as a Biology major, but quickly learned that major was not for me. During first semester of my freshman year, I was taking a psychology course that ended up being my favorite class that semester. My enjoyment of that class lead me to decided to change my major to Psychology. Changing my major was one of the best decisions I made. My first piece of advice is to find a major that you are passionate about and enjoy. Don’t stay in a major you hate because you feel like you have to. Find a major that you enjoy, and want to pursue in the future, and if you don’t like your major, change it to one you do like.

            My second piece of advice is to find a balance between doing schoolwork and your social life. Being in college is an opportunity to meet new people and to gain new experiences. Make sure that you make enough time that you can get all your work done, but don’t forget to have some fun too. You will meet some of your best friends here, who hold the potential of being life long friends. You will learn a lot during your time here in the classroom, as well as outside of the classroom.

            My third piece of advice it to take classes in different areas and find a minor you will enjoy. As a psychology major there is a lot of room to take up a minor. Taking a lot of psychology classes at one time can be stressful, since many require keeping up with reading and weekly quizzes. Taking up a minor will allow you to take a variety of classes each semester. I chose to minor in counseling and human services and really enjoyed those classes.

            My next piece of advice is to take advantage of opportunities in the psychology department and other resources at the school in general. I wish that I had taken more advantage of the opportunities, and gotten to know my professors better. They want you to come to office hours and ask them questions you have about class material or material that interests you. Another chance to get to know professors better is by being a teaching assistant or research assistant. Along with getting to know professors better, these are great things to add to your resume or curriculum vitae, and to reinforce things you have already learned. I also recommended taking advantage of field experience. Field experience is a great opportunity to figure out a population you would want to work with or one you might not. Taking field experience was one of the best opportunities for me, and helped me to figure out what I was interested in doing in the future. Career services is a great resource to help with resumes/ curriculum vitae, mock interviews, and job searches. Some other great resources are the writing center, CTLE, and the counseling center. These are great resources if you are having a difficult time, so don’t be afraid to use them.

            I hope that as you start your time here at Scranton you keep this advice in mind. Make sure you get involved, make good friends, have fun and work hard. There will be ups and downs but keeping pushing forward. The University of Scranton is a special place, and I know you will have an amazing four years here. Most of all make sure to enjoy every minute of your next four years here, because it will fly by. I wish you the best of luck as you start your time here at Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your acceptance and enrollment to the University of Scranton. This school is a great institution and I am sure you will immensely enjoy your time here. The transition from high school to college may seem scary, but I wouldn’t worry too much. There are countless resources here on campus to help you adjust. As a graduating senior, here are a few tips that I’ve accumulated over the past four years.

To make your life easier your freshman year, as well as throughout your college career, I highly advise starting out strong with good habits. One of the biggest differences between college and high school is the amount of freedom you have. With that freedom, comes responsibility. You no longer have your parents to tell you when to do homework or go to sleep. It is up to you establish a productive routine and set of habits to help you succeed. Here are a few helpful reminders: Get enough sleep, take care of yourself, and whatever you do, do not procrastinate. These may sound simple and overstated, but there is nothing more important than your mental and physical health.

 As for academics, establish a good study routine early on in your college career. A GPA is easy to ruin, but hard to raise. Starting out strong at the beginning of your education when you are taking mostly introductory classes is the best way to ensure your academic success. Also, choose a designated place to study that is not your bedroom. I know it may sound stupid, but getting work done when you have a dorm hall full of friends is nearly impossible. I recommend the 3rd or 4th floors of the library, Hyland 1st floor, or even the AMH computer labs after classes are finished.

Regarding the psychology major, it is 100% okay if you don’t know what you would like to do after you graduate college. It may seem scary to be uncertain about your future, but don’t stress about it. As a psychology major, you have a substantial amount of wiggle room to take classes that interest you. One of my biggest regrets as a psychology major is that I did not take advantage of the number of free electives the major permits. If I could go back, I would have declared a second major, concentration, or even a minor. I highly advise you take advantage of the flexibility in the major.

While it is okay to not know exactly what you want to do after graduation, it is important to identify whether or not graduate school is a possibility for you. If you are even remotely considering continuing your education, it is extremely important to keep up your GPA, foster relationships with your professors, and participate in the academic opportunities the department has to offer. In my time here at the University, I engaged in research with a few different faculty members. This is a great way to get to know your professor as well as discover your interests in psychology. Also, if you have the chance to serve as a teaching assistant for one of your professors, I suggest you take up the opportunity.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun! This is college after all. Balancing work and play is key if you want to survive your time here. There are tons of clubs and sports teams available to join. This is a great way to make friends and take your mind off school. There are also non-academic activities happening on campus all of the time. One of the most rewarding experiences the University has to offer are the retreats at the lake house at Chapman Lake. These retreats are open to everyone, usually themed, and allow you to make friends while embracing your spirituality.

As I begin my last few weeks as a University of Scranton student, I can honestly say that my time here has been fun, challenging, and rewarding. I hope the psychology department is as great to you as it was for me, and I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this journey!

Best,

A Graduating Psychology Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            For one reason or another your path has led you here, as an incoming Psychology major at the University of Scranton. I would like to take some time to share with you my personal experience as a graduating senior.

            I first decided to be a psychology major when I was a junior in high school for 3 reasons: Spite, a curiosity of human nature, and lighthouses. I will begin by explaining spite. Like many college students, maybe yourself as well, I had helicopter parents. The type that would want to know your plans and goals year by year until the day you retire, and if you didn’t have any plans, they would make them for you. Both of my parents, as great as they are, took it upon themselves to decide I was to major in finance, regardless of my passionate hate of math. At first my decision to major in something else was a youthful act of defiance. The reason that something else was probably going to be psychology is my genuine interest and curiosity about human nature. There were so many things I wanted to know about people and their brains and it wasn’t like any high school class I had taken had been able to satisfy that. But my third reason really sealed the deal. I went to my schools career day and a clinical psychologist spoke about his life. He was about 80 years old, healthy, and never stopped smiling. He told us he wakes up everyday in his home, which is a remodeled lighthouse on the water. He then walks across the street to his office, speaks to people about their problems for six hours a day and tries to help them, then goes home. He seemed so happy and so content. He seemed fine financially and could have easily retired, but what spoke to me the most is that he loved his life, he was happy, and he never wanted to stop his professional life. As someone who has always been afraid of hating his job, this was the deciding factor. I wanted to learn about something, and eventually get a job in a field that I never wanted to leave.

            My first year was great. As a freshman, my favorite classes were into to psychology, abnormal psychology, and social psychology (word of advise, do not take abnormal and social in the same semester like I did, the work load was a little much for a freshman). I found myself really interested in the material and it made studying for exams less difficult. I had another great semester going into my sophomore year with evolutionary psychology, definitely not a class for wimps. I have never been a great student but evolutionary psych is one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken and I think it should be a requirement for all science majors.

            Over time some things changed, I changed. Most people do in their early 20s. Although I found my core psychology courses interesting, I started taking political science classes that seemed to draw more of my attention. I made the decision to start focusing more on my new minor, political science. I think my first two years I focused almost too much on taking my major classes and didn’t really look at anything else. My advice to you would be take some time in those first two years with some of your free electives to go minor shopping. See what else interests you and see how it can connect to psychology.

            Possibly my biggest regret in my four years here at the University of Scranton was that I never kicked my horrible procrastination habit. You may be a procrastinator as well, but I cannot tell you the amount of times I have started studying for a test the night before, cramming, and doing poorly because of it. The worst part is, when I start studying, I realize I actually am interested in the information I’m reading about! I think I was just so hard wired from a young age to detest studying for boring classes I kept putting things off to the last minute. Try and kick that habit as soon as you can. It not only will help you do better academically but you will enjoy your coursework and time here more.

            I have not once in four years had a bad experience with a professor in the psychology department. They are all very different with different teaching styles but none have been “bad” for me. Another piece of advise I would give is do not be afraid to ask for help, because there will be a time where you need it, and you will receive it. Im not talking about asking a professor to boost your grade the day before the final, that’s on you. But I have had a couple professors that have bent over backwards for me trying to accommodate my schedule and help me succeed. I know its not like that in other places but it is here. It’s a great academic environment because you have so many people trying to help you.

            My last piece of advice is about memorization. Stop doing it. If you are looking for a major that requires you to memorize dozens of facts for an exam them regurgitate them onto a test and forget about them, psychology may not be for you. More than any other discipline I have taken at Scranton, psychology requires an understanding of concepts, not facts. Underlying reasons and rationale for why things are, not just what things are. Information from a social psychology class can tie directly into information in a cognitive psychology class and that understanding becomes deeper and more powerful. Everything is connected and at the end of the day, if you are interested in the subject, it will come easy to you. If not, 75% of college students change their major, so there is no shame in hitting pause and exploring your other options. Find what you love and learn what you like so hard work becomes easier. Godspeed and welcome to the best four years of your life so far.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Where do I even start? I have a lot to write to you. Let me start with your major. Be sure that psychology is what you are truly interested in; do not be coerced by your family, friends, or any other people to choose psychology as a major. That is what happened to me with another major. I started off as a biology (pre-med) major per my parent's request and it took me until second semester sophomore year to switch my major to psychology; that is when my life and grades significantly improved. I hated being a biology major because the content did not interest me, therefore, going to classes was a drag. But when you love a major (such as me with psychology) it makes your life that much better. There will be classes that you do not want to take (but must), however, being in a major that you are passionate about makes your college experience worthwhile. Do not be afraid to change your major if you have taken some psychology courses and change your mind about the major. Do it as soon as you can because it will save you the trouble of taking more classes in a major that you do not like.

Also, do not be afraid to pick up another major or a concentration if you have a strong interest in something other than psychology. If you are going to take multiple classes in a certain subject, you might as well pick up that major or concentration. I picked up a Women and Gender Studies concentration because some of my psychology courses counted for it and I took other interesting courses that worked for the concentration. Picking up another major or concentration can really broaden your horizons and help you learn information that can help with your original major.

Overall, my experience as a psychology major has been positive. The university offers a variety of interesting psychology courses some of my absolute favorites being the following: Abnormal Psychology, Psychology of Women, Psychological Testing, and Clinical Psychology. The faculty and staff are all very knowledgeable and kind as well. Going to class (for the most part) was fun and exciting.

Make sure to choose appropriate times for your classes, too. If you choose a morning class and you know that you are not an early bird, it will be difficult to get up for class, even more so if it is a class you are not fond of. The opposite is true, too; if you like to be finished with classes early, stay away from night classes as they can be horrible to endure (it was for me). Also, when registration time comes around, make sure to have back up classes just in case the ones you want get taken from you. And here's a tip, even after registration is over, keep checking those classes that you wanted and did not get into (up until the first week of classes) because people may drop them! I have gotten lucky because of that and registered for classes I had been previously locked out of.

A piece of advice I have is to get to know your professors. Take multiple classes with the same professor, visit them during their office hours (whether it is to say hello or to ask about class content); this will help your professor to get to know you better as a person, which will be useful later on when you need to ask for recommendation letters (and this will help you feel more confident when approaching them).

Some of my regrets lie in the fact that I did not join more clubs at the university; this was due to a lot of reasons, such as lack of time and my shyness. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and join whatever clubs interest you! There are so many fascinating and interesting clubs (not only for psychology but for many other subjects).

I also regret not making more friends in my major. Although taking classes at the university is for learning, it is nice to have friends in the same class as you. You can motivate and help each other with the content; it also makes group projects easier. This also helps you to build a network for future purposes such as job opportunities and the like.

Also, study! Study every day! Do not let any material sneak up on you. Even though it may not seem like a lot if you have not studied a little bit every day when it comes time for the exam it will be rough on you. University is hard, it is nothing like high school; the amount of material you must learn and memorize far exceeds that of high school.

Finally, be proud of your accomplishments and celebrate them. Attending university is a privilege so be grateful you are here. Although I have heard many people say that psychology is one of the easier majors, I beg to differ. Psychology is a complex subject; learning about and finding the reasons for human behavior is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome.

I wish you the best of luck during your time at the University of Scranton and do not forget to have some fun, too!

Sincerely,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations on your acceptance to University of Scranton, and welcome to the psychology major! You probably have a ton of questions, and maybe even some worries or doubts, about embarking on this new journey. As a graduating senior, I have endless advice to pass on about how I made the absolute best of my college experience.

            My time spent at the University was extraordinary for a variety of reasons. To start, the incredible friends I met here have made it amazing. College is a time when you can make friends who have similar interests and beliefs as you, rather than feeling obligated to spend time with people because they have been in your classes for so many years. Join clubs that interest you, and befriend people who are also members of that club. Go on international or domestic service trips and create strong bonds based on giving back to others; a group of students can become surprisingly close when they journey to a distant place together. On the other hand, though, do not be afraid to stop being friends with people along the way. The first person you eat dinner with from your freshman dorm will most likely not be your best friend for the rest of college.

            Besides clubs and service trips, I encourage you to take advantage of other opportunities college has to offer. By participating in team, club, or intramural sports, you can stay active by doing an activity you love. Additionally, you can gain leadership experience by becoming a resident assistant, orientation assistant, or club officer. There are also a plethora of activities that are “free” (included in tuition), or offered at a low cost. For example, the school’s fitness centers and exercise classes are fantastic facilities that people outside of college pay enormous amounts to use. Furthermore, throughout the semester there are theatrical and musical performances, movies shown on and off campus, and trips to various cities, among other activities.

            While all the aforementioned events contributed to a wonderful four years, of course education is still the main reason for choosing to attend college. You are going to love being a psychology major! I feel lucky that the department is filled with some of the best faculty on campus. I may have a biased opinion, but I believe the psychology professors are incredibly intelligent people who know effective teaching methods and truly care about their students’ success. Another positive of Scranton is the small class size. While it will most likely be noticed when you skip class, it allows you to get to know professors, and for them to get to know you. I would recommend getting to know professors on a more personal level by attending office hours, becoming a teaching assistant, and doing research in their labs. All of these will become infinitely useful when you need to ask for letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate school.

            The psychology major’s wonderful curriculum also contributed to my love of Scranton. Because it is such a broad field and there are many different job opportunities, the range of courses is helpful for figuring out the subfields of psychology in which you have a particular interest. Furthermore, unlike other majors, psychology gives you numerous free elective credits, allowing you to easily join an honors program or add a second major, minor, or concentration. Because psychology can be found almost anywhere, it is easy to fit it into another field, such as philosophy, criminal justice, or counseling. Moreover, the major also allows you to study abroad, and I absolutely encourage you to do so. Not only can you complete major and general education requirements in a different country, but it also forces you out of your comfort zone, allows you to gain experiences you never would have in Scranton, and introduces you to new friends.

Despite all the earlier tips, and how much I could still say, the best advice I can give is to fully embrace every experience, and not wish time away. Even now as a graduating senior, I remember the beginning of freshmen year like it was yesterday, so trust me when I say college will go by more quickly than you could ever imagine. Now as I dread leaving Scranton, I regret the times I complained about only being a freshmen; I wish I could relive the past four years. If you just remember to work hard and have fun, you will undoubtedly have the time of your life.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            You made it. You made it to college, picked a major, and, hopefully, are excited to begin a new journey. How does that feel? When I started at the University of Scranton, I was a bundle of nerves, but excited to see what this new place has to offer. No matter what major you choose, the department you belong to is now your home. In my experience, the students in the psychology department fast become your friends, professors become wells of knowledge and guidance, and you start to integrate what you learn into your everyday life. While the next four years may seem intimidating, they will pass before you know it. I have some knowledge I would like to impart on you that I wish I knew during my four years as a psychology major.

            The psychology department has a lot of opportunities for its students! My favorite experience at the psychology department was as a teaching assistant for various professors. What does being a “teaching assistant” mean? The answer varies based on the professor you work with. Generally, you assist the professor in organizing class materials, grade quizzes, and may even teach a class! The best way to try to secure a teaching assistantship is to get to know your professors, try to do well in your courses to prove you know the material, and be yourself. Since the psychology department is on the small side, your professors and peers will begin to notice you simply because you are being yourself. Of course, it does not hurt to ask professors if they are looking for teaching assistants.

            Another opportunity that is important for psychology students, not only now but in the future, is the chance to do research with a faculty member. I wish I had taken advantage of this opportunity sooner than I did because I could have been involved in more research with different professors. The best way to join a lab, meaning to join other students who work with professors on their research, is to simply ask the professors whose work you are interested in, if their lab is open. I learned so much about conducting research, and the field of psychology, by working in a lab. I also never expected research to be something I am interested in, but if I did not try it I would never have known. The moral of the story? Try new things you think you might like and dislike, because you may surprise yourself.

            There are two courses in particular that I found to be the most helpful in my time at Scranton. The first is Clinical Psychology. I have much interest in the area of clinical psychology and want to pursue a graduate degree in this area. This course is perhaps one of the most informative classes I have taken, and it is not even a required course. The professor utilizes film, handouts, and in-class group discussion to truly make this course engaging and worthwhile. The course load is heavy but I tailored my writing and studying skills to fit this new workload, another valuable skill learned in the psychology department. The second course I truly enjoyed was Psychological Testing. The textbook used in that course is easy to read, making difficult concepts a bit easier to grasp. As a student, I was able to work with actual testing materials, think critically about if psychological tests are accurate, and generally enhanced my understanding of the basic statistics that crop up in almost all psychology courses.

            Truthfully, as a commuter student it has been difficult to get involved on campus and to make friends. However, as cheesy as this may seem, the psychology department, both faculty and peers, became my safe haven. Our department is a community in and of itself, something I did not realize until later in my college career. The welcoming atmosphere and learning environment in the psychology department is the one place I feel at home. Try to get involved and you will not be disappointed.

Good Luck,

A Graduating Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congratulations of your acceptance to the University of Scranton! This is a great university filled with great students, faculty, and staff. You should know right away that people who do not go here are going to make references to The Office when you tell them where you go. It is something you will get used to and if you have not watched the show I would give it a try. That being said, the University has a plethora of friendly people willing to help you make an easy transition into your first. Although you will always encounter unpleasant people, the good outweigh the bad at the University.

            My first piece of advice is to get involved with your school. Do as much as you can to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities this school provides. A great way to do this is to join clubs. Join any and every club that interest you as you walk by. You may be scared by the vast number of clubs or people jumping out at you and wanting you to sign their sheet, but do not be. Clubs are an easy way to meet new people consistently throughout your college career. They are a way to be involved with others and with your school at the same time. Many clubs hope group gatherings for people that are not even in their club. For example, the Gaming Club has Super Smash Bro. Tournaments for anyone who wants to participate. Try not to stay in your room the first couple weeks and think the only way to meet people is through classes. Have courage, other freshman will also be trying to make friends and those first few weeks are the time to do it. It is important to say that friends change. Some of the friends you make your first few weeks may be lost, some of them may remain good friends for life.

            As an incoming psychology major, do not be discouraged by the size and location of our building compared to others. Our department has some of the most fantastic people in the field of psychology. I encourage you to talk to each professor and learn about what they do outside of class. You might think that they only teach classes here at the University but many own private practices, travel to give conferences, and publish important research. We may be a small department, but we have some big-name people. Get to know them, talk about their interests, your interests, and get a better idea of what you might be doing or would like to be doing after graduating. I know graduation is four years away, but those four years will fly by before you even know it. During your first two years as a psychology major, I suggest you quickly take the core classes. Some of these core classes are Sensation and Perception, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. You are required to take a minimum of 5 and these core classes should lead you in a direction you may want to take your psychology education. If you have interest in doing research, apply early to one of the multiple labs in the Psychology department. Faculty are always looking for new students to work with on research and prefer to someone who will be with them for a long time. They do not want a senior who will only be around for two semesters, then they will have unfinished research they have to teach to the next assistant which is a waste of time and effort. The relationship you develop with the professor will also be important because they have greater knowledge then you, and if the relationship goes well, they can provide letters of recommendations for internships or graduate schools.

            Lastly, do not be afraid to change your major if Psychology does not keep your interest. Feel free to change to biology, and then back to psychology because you can do that here. Peoples interests change as they gain more knowledge and explore all the different classes offered here at the University. Do not stunt your own self growth over what others expect of you. Life is about taking chances and learning from them. Take chances and explore The University of Scranton!

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            Here is some advice for you as you enter the University of Scranton. My first piece of advice is to explore other areas of study that interest you and make them your minor or double major. Psychology is a special major that can be combined with almost any other major. If you are planning on practicing therapy, I suggest taking some counseling courses because they will teach you how to run sessions and teach you special techniques that are useful in therapy.

            During your first year, I strongly suggest that you get to know your professors. You can do this by answering questions in class, saying hi to them in the hallway, and striking up conversation before class starts. These relationships will benefit you later in your career when you need recommendation letters or help finding jobs or research to do. Another piece of advice is to do the assigned textbook reading on schedule. You are expected to read and although a lot of the material may be covered in class, your professor can add questions on quizzes/tests that are based solely on the reading. The readings should be done on schedule, so you are not skimming them the night before. Trust me, you will miss something and regret it. I also recommend you do the reading even if you have learned the information in the past. This way the information will stick which will help you in the future, such as on the GRE’s, if you decide to take them.

            As a psychology major, you are to take eight core classes. I highly suggest taking these classes before any other psychology electives because they will help you in the elective classes. When deciding on what professors to take, use the website www.ratemyprofessor.com. This website has reviews from other students that have taken these professors. They explain what the course work for the class is like and how the professor is and how they grade work.

            At orientation, you will meet other psychology majors and be spending two days with them. This is a great opportunity to get to know them, especially because you will be taking classes with them for the next four years. Although the University of Scranton is a close-knit community, it has been known that psychology majors are not that close with each other. Professors are trying to change this, but you can help too! Get to know your peers! You can do this by joining the psychology club or the Association for Psychological Science Student Caucus (APSSC). In addition, strike up conversation with your peers. There are plenty of opportunities to do this such as when you are waiting for class to start, during group discussions/work, or when you are leaving class. Also, attend the psychology department’s events such as the picnic in the beginning of the year and the tree lighting ceremony before winter break. Another way to meet other psychology majors and professors is by sitting in the lab or table in Alumni Memorial Hall (AMH). This advice is not to say that all your friends should be psychology majors but, it is helpful to have a friend you can study with or ask questions.

            My last piece of advice is to take advantage of professors’ office hours. Even if you have a question, it is usually more beneficial to stop by their office and ask the question instead sending an e-mail. This way the professor knows your face and sees that you are putting in extra effort. Also, some professors will allow you to stop by to read your papers before they are due. I highly encourage you to also take advantage of this opportunity because it will help you on your future papers in all classes, not just psychology.

            My final words to you are to not worry. Experience everything that the University of Scranton has to offer. Embrace everything and make every minute count because four years flies by and you will never have an opportunity like this again. Good Luck!

Sincerely,

A Senior Psychology Major

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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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(#46)


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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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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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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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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