Letters to Freshmen from Seniors
The following letters were written to freshmen by graduating Psychology majors at the University of Scranton over the past three years. These are their "goodbye letters." The letters are grouped into clusters of five.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
A once doubtful student who ended up making it
(You can too)
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!
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!
A Graduating Psychology Senior
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.
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!
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.
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.
A Graduating Senior
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!
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!
A Senior Psychology Major
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to the University of Scranton! Your next four years will prove challenging at times, but always rewarding in the end. I suggest you take advantage of all of the opportunities that Scranton has to offer. Embrace the community, find your passion, and find yourself.
When I started college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but in my time here I was exposed to so much more that made me wonder if I really had a clue about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It can be overwhelming to know that the decisions you make here will dictate your entire future, but remember, it’s never too late to change your mind. Use your electives to take classes in other areas of study that interest you. If you never try, you’ll never know if you’ve found your true passion. In the end, I still have the same career goal that I had coming in to school, but so many people change so drastically in four years, and that’s ok too.
At times, I honestly wanted to quit school and go get a job training dolphins. But in those moments, I reminded myself to keep pushing because I always knew that the best was yet to come. You will be bogged down with papers, presentations, and exams at the end of every semester – but keep pushing. (And besides, you get a nice lengthy break after fall and spring to recover before doing it all over again!) You’ll also be frustrated by professors but take my advice and give their classes everything you’ve got. It can be easy to slack off in a class that frankly you think is bullshit, but sometimes those classes will prove to be the most important, formative classes in your college career. Take it from a professional procrastinator – just don’t do it. You will be sad.
In addition to your classes, I’d suggest finding a faculty member with similar research interests to yours and talking to them. Anyone in the psychology department will be more than willing to talk to you, so don’t be afraid! I was so shy when I started college that I didn’t get involved in research until the second semester of my junior year and that is something I definitely regret. I’ve learned so much about myself and about research, of course, but I’ve also made some friends that will last a lifetime.
To sum this all up – take your passions and run with them. Get involved in everything you can get your hands on, from clubs and other extracurriculars to exciting classes outside your major that motivate you to try something new. There are so many resources available to you in this community that you will NEVER be alone. I have never been to another campus where everyone is so genuinely friendly and caring. When in doubt, ask anyone around you and I can promise they will help.
… and again, just write your papers before the night before they’re due. You will thank me and yourself for this at the end of the semester.
Good luck in all you do. I’ll be rooting for you.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
First and foremost, congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton! This will be your home for the next four years. You will meet a lot of new people and can try new experiences. My time at the University of Scranton has been one of the most memorable experiences in my life. The psychology program offers many opportunities and different classes to take. The faculty members are respectful and helpful, if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out to them.
When I first entered as a freshmen, I decided to declare a criminal justice minor along with my psychology major. I recommend that you find a subfield of study that is interesting to you. Having a minor increases your range of opportunities and helps you stand out as a student. My experiences within the psychology program have been great. No matter the question I had, the faculty was there to help. They are easy to talk to and are an email away. Throughout my four years, I became close with a couple of professors that I felt I can talk to them about any concerns I had. If there is one thing, I wish I could have changed, I would have reached out to them sooner. It was not until my junior that I developed a stronger relationship with my professors. I was nervous and felt that there was not much help that they could provide for me. Once I reached out to them, I realized how wrong I was. Do not be afraid to ask for help, no one is going to laugh at you for it. Another great was to go for help is your fellow classmates, remember you are all in the same boat. I recommend joining the psych club, it is a great way to meet other students in the major. Also, make friends with students in the class so if you ever miss class or have a question about an assignment you can have someone to ask.
One of my regrets is that I never did research with a professor or reached out to be a teacher’s assistant. These are both great ways to strengthen a relationship with a professor and gain practical experience. If you plan on going to graduate school, you will need a letter of recommendation from at least two of your professors. The stronger relationship you have with them, the better that letter will be. A class I highly recommend taking is clinical psychology. If you have an interest in the clinical setting, this class will teach you about the different opportunities there are. Field experience in a clinical setting is another great course. It gives you the chance to be placed in a clinical setting to gain hands on experience in an area of your interest.
Don’t be afraid to try new activities, even if you never saw yourself doing them before. One of the best experiences I had was joining the rugby team. I played baseball in high school, so it was a big change for me. Not only was it a great way to stay active, I also met some of the closest people in my life. When the club fair comes around, sign up for any club that catches your eye. It is a great way to meet new people. From there you can find a club you like and devote your time to.
Finally, never give up. There will be tough times where you will have many assignments and test all due in the same week. Make sure to keep up with your work and readings. Coming from a professional procrastinator, school work becomes so much easier when you are not struggling to get it in the night before. Develop a routine early. Waking up to get breakfast in the morning is a great way to start the day and be on campus early to start work.
Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day on the weekends. Times can get stressful and we all need a break. The weekends are a great way to relax from a hard week and gives you time to catch up on assignments.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney. Good luck on your new journey at Scranton. Be passionate in the work you do, and safe in the decisions you make.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Adding psychology as a second major entering my sophomore year (in addition to Criminal Justice), I missed out on your initial experiences through the program. I came in with AP credit from high school, so I didn’t have to take the Intro course or the associated lab.
My interest in psychology has always been on cognitive functions and perception. This began with my introduction to the field in high school, and I focused my time in the program towards the relevant courses. Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Social Psychology, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy were the most cognition-based courses that I took. I wish I had taken Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, but with a second major’s worth of courses to fulfill, I had to be efficient with what I took to fulfill the program’s requirements. The former interests me because of the practical application both in and beyond a university setting, and the latter because of the tangibility neuroscience offers cognition.
Take the Career Development seminar fall semester junior year. Any later and you’re handicapping yourself. It’s vital to begin thinking about post-graduate life that early, even more so if you plan on attending grad school. Use the opportunities it gives you to make connections with Career Center staff if you haven’t already by that point.
Research experience will be your greatest asset as a student. Use your first year to find out what professors specialize in what areas, whether they’re conducting research, and what the research is in. If it interests you, try your best to get involved in some capacity.
As a member of the Honors Program, my research experience was more self-directed than traditional research opportunities. It was also the most fulfilling academic accomplishment of my college career and my life. The project was a hybrid of my two majors, with a heavy emphasis on cognitive functioning. After spending a year and a half looking at underlying theories, I spent months writing a thesis paper, culminating in a defense of the research to a committee.
The most important information you’ll learn in college is not the words that come out of a professor’s mouth during lecture. It will be the little nuggets of wisdom you’ll discover as you navigate how to complete your coursework and succeed in doing so. Juggling two majors, my Honors coursework and research, and various extracurricular activities sounds daunting. And here’s the thing: it is daunting. But daunting doesn’t equal difficulty.
Everything that seems intimidating and difficult will only be that way until you start doing it. Difficulty comes because the odds are stacked against you, but it also comes from the unknown. Learn to distinguish between the two. The odds won’t be out of favor nearly as often as you think, particularly with the opportunities the university provides. Have you ever watched a horror movie, been scared to death the first time, then that fear dissipates on subsequent viewings? Because the fear you felt was in the unknown of what you were dealing with. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” You’re given much by virtue of being a student here, whether it’s immediately apparent or not. But everyone you meet understands you’re still a student, and your primary job here is to learn. None of the faculty will be upset with you if you fail, so long as you’re capable of growing from it.
While you may hold yourself to a perfectionist standard, get to know failure like an old friend. There is no better use of your time here than spending it learning. And there is no better way to learn than taking leaps of faith into the unknown, unconcerned with whether or not you succeed the first time. Do well on coursework, but don’t be afraid to push yourself because you want to avoid messing up. You’re smart enough to be reading this letter right now. Have faith you’ll figure whatever challenges you encounter eventually. What does it matter if it’s not the first time? The best students aren’t the ones who get a perfect on every assignment. The best students are the ones who don’t let their shortcomings bring them down. They soak it up and come back stronger.
You’re not here for a long time, so make it a good time. Worry about the future, worry about deadlines, but don’t ever become consumed by them. The journey will always be more important than the end. Don’t be afraid to try something because you don’t know how to reach the end; don’t focus on reaching the end. Start wherever you can, and every subsequent step will appear when the time is right.
Giddy up. This is where the fun begins.
Dear Incoming Psychology Student,
Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your acceptance into the University of Scranton! This is a great place with so many wonderful people and opportunities. With four years as a University of Psychology student ahead of you, I wanted to offer you some advice! Specifically, I want to provide a glimpse into my own experience in hopes that you will find it beneficial as you embark on your journey here. Throughout my time at the University I definitely have some things I am proud of and some regrets I think about when reflecting on my college career. However, my hope is that this letter could provide some guidance to you as well as get you excited for the years ahead! I feel that the best way to organize my thoughts and advice to you is by telling you what I did as an undergrad that was beneficial, tell you the regrets I have, and finally, give you any overall words of wisdom about being a student here.
Coinciding with the purpose of this letter, having a mentor or mentors, is crucial in your academic and personal journey as an undergrad. I found it the most beneficial to have either a student or a professor at my disposal to confide in. This could be a professor you have class with, do research with, etc. Do not be afraid to foster those positive relationships with your professors and fellow classmates. They will be with you for the next four years! Having that guidance from someone is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to learn. This is also what your advisor is there for. Make the effort to seek help from your professors, especially when it comes to academics.
College is not easy! At times, the curriculum will get tough so lean on your fellow classmates and professors as much as you can. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and it is better to have people to help you than to go at it alone.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Congratulations on beginning your journey as a Royal! You are lucky to attend an institution that is known to bring forth well-rounded, socially conscious and perceptive graduates. It is my hope that these four years as a psychology major are as rewarding as possible and that you seize every opportunity to learn about who you are.
My experience as a psychology major has been gratifying in a myriad of ways. However, I arrived at the University of Scranton as an English major. It was not until I opted to take Fundamentals of Psychology as an elective that I knew for sure that psychology was for me. I was drawn to the scientific nature of the subject and the organized structure in which research was done. I was also fascinated by the influence that psychology has on business activities, a field that I hope to work in in the future. Perhaps my favorite component of my education at this university is the number of electives offered by the psychology department. Psychology students (and others) are given a chance to experience the full scope of this field through specialties like the psychology of exercise and sports, linguistics and childhood development. Psychology students have access to information encompassing the entire human experience, something that not many other majors can provide.
It is important to note that the psychology department at the University of Scranton houses some of the most passionate faculty on this campus. I vividly remember a piece of advice that one of my professors gave our class during my sophomore year. His message was simple yet impactful; take responsibility for your own education. While this may seem like common sense, it was not to me. I spent a fair amount of time as a freshman and sophomore going through the motions and not taking my education as seriously as I could have. It was not until I was fully involved in my psychology curriculum that I became genuinely excited about school. I took my professors advice and discovered what captivated me; why people do what they do. There are students at every university who lack motivation because they are not passionate about their area of study. It is my hope that you will not be one of them!
One thing that I would recommend is to declare a minor in another subject. About halfway through my career as a psychology major, I found myself wanting a more stimulating academic experience. I realized I had a lot of room in my schedule for extra classes (as I am sure you will too) and chose to fill this extra time by adding a minor in general business. My business minor allowed me to take classes entirely outside of my comfort zone. Courses provided by the Kania School of Management have introduced me topics that I would have never considered to be interesting had I not taken them.
Whether you choose to apply to graduate school or to apply for jobs, a major in psychology and a minor in a field like biology, counseling or business will make you an even more marketable applicant. However, there is no rush to make any decisions at this time. I started my minor at the beginning of my junior year, and I had no problem finishing my degree on time. Do not stress over figuring out how to fit credits into your schedule just yet; take this first year or two of college to introspect and explore what truly interests you.
During my senior year, I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant and research assistant. Both ventures provided me with a chance to grow as a student and the freedom to expand my proficiency in skills needed in the real world. While the University of Scranton’s psychology faculty members are always looking for bright students with a strong work ethic to join their lab, it is your responsibility to get your foot in the door. One thing that I regret is not engaging in research with a faculty member sooner. As you may know, research is a staple in the field of psychology; it is what legitimizes the subject as a respected field of study (among other things). I would have had an even better, more full experience as a psychology major had I done so.
In addition, I would highly recommend participating in a service project at some point during your tenure at the University of Scranton. The Center for Service and Social Justice offers numerous opportunities on and off campus to engage with the surrounding community. Finally, should you experience any hiccups along the way, know that you are now a member of a tight-knit community that will support you. College is essentially a four-year learning experience, so make sure that you take each lesson in stride.
Best of luck!
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to Scranton! As my time at The University of Scranton ends, your time is just beginning. Throughout my time here, I have had a lot of wonderful experiences that I hope you have as well. The Psychology Department, like other departments, is one that is blessed with excellent faculty and staff. I have had the honor to have some of the most knowledgeable people teach me about many different subfields of Psychology and now that honor is yours too.
One thing I find it important for you to know about my time as a psychology major is that I was a double major. Psychology was my second major and I treated it just as that. I wish I had focused more on it, rather than putting most of my focus on my first major. I wish I had taken advantage of all the things that the department has to offer. The best advice I can give you, academically speaking, is to get to know your professors! As scary and intimidating that may seem, they are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to share it with you.
Looking back on my time here as a Psychology student, I thought it was important to focus on the wide variety of classes in our curriculum. Yes, of course there are classes that are required, but what I liked most was the number of Psychology electives that were available. No matter what you want to do with your future degree(s), there are courses that can cater to most of your needs. I liked that we have classes in certain specialties that I wanted to learn more about. One of the best parts of Scranton is the push and focus for students to be well-rounded, or Cura Personalis (the care for the whole person). In the Psychology Department, the curriculum is written so that our students have knowledge in a range of subfields of Psychology to best get into Graduate-level programs. The wide range of Psych electives are just a part of that.
One thing I learned in my time at Scranton, not just as a psychology major, is that there are so many people on campus who are willing to help you in any way they can. You’ve probably heard that the best part of Scranton is its sense of community and after four years here, I can confirm that it is so true. The community is just one of the things at the top of my list of favorite parts about Scranton. Others include the huge number of ways for students to get involved, knowledgeable and friendly faculty and staff, and the historical architecture located all through campus and the surrounding area. Another piece of advice that most alumni give to incoming students is to get involved, and I entirely agree that it is important for your college career.
Getting involved; I know, it may seem overwhelming at first. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so try something new! It is important to remember that you may sign up for a bunch of clubs at the Club Fair, but that does not mean that you must be committed to all of them. Clubs and organizations on campus understand that there are only so many hours in the day and you can’t possibly do all of them. Even though it was my senior year, I tried a new club and ended up loving it! Being able to try new things and test the waters is one of the best parts of college. Yes, you came for an education, but why not learn about yourself along the way?
In this time of change and learning about yourself, it is also best to remind you that you will be meeting a TON of new people. Some of them may be your friends for the rest of your life, and others only for a moment. Cherish the time you spend with the people you meet here. It may be those who you meet for the shortest time that make the largest impact. I have found out more about myself from my friends than I knew before meeting them. No matter what, meeting new people can be impactful on your life, and they can push you to do great things.
My final words to you are this: get involved, get to know your professors, step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and something I know you’ve already heard a million times before…. GO FORTH AND SET THE WORLD ON FIRE! Welcome to the Scranton Community and I hope for the best in all that you do here. Truly make Scranton your home for the next four years and take in all it has to offer you.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to the University of Scranton! Congratulations on taking this next step in your life. I hope these next couple of years here will be as exciting and life changing as they were for me. The last four years have passed as if they have been four minutes. College these four years has brought a lot of sleepless nights,stress and challenges. However, the challenges don’t come without reward. College brings you all these stressful factors but also friends, laughs and good memories. Through these years it’s important to remember to work hard, challenge yourself and be happy.
I never had the chance to read one of these letter because I did not enter the school with a Major in psychology. I instead started off my Freshman year as a Accounting Major. I enjoyed the classes however as the year progressed I could not see myself being an accountant. As corny as it sounds it’s important to pursue what you are interested in and to live in the moment. Your happiness and what you make of your four years of college is up to you. Don’t be afraid of psychology because this field is very versatile. Plan ahead and focus on what your goals are. Along the way don’t be afraid to make mistakes either because it is what makes you a better student .
The best thing you can do for yourself is to make a good schedule and get into a routine. Once you get into a routine early on it’s easier to get work done in an orderly way. Another good piece of advice that I could offer would be to get involved. One of my biggest regrets is not pursuing more activities outside the classroom. It is important to be involved and get to know people in your major and make connections with people. Join a club, complete a research study, play a sport ,etc. However, don’t take on too many extracurriculars because it’s also important to handle what you can. Another thing you should do is study abroad even if it's just over intersession. I never wanted to leave school because of the fear of not being with my friends on the weekend.. However when I think it there’s no better time to go abroad then when you are at college and they give you the opportunity. When you are older and either working or going to school you won’t have as much time.
As for the classes in general it’s important to read read read! In order to do well in every class that I have taken you must read with diligence and with enough time. I know it’ll be hard to not procrastinate but make sure you have time to do your work in time and well. Read, highlight, ask questions and go to office hours! . All of the professors within the psychology dept have office hours for your use to seek their help. They’re offered during scheduled times and you can even email them if there is no accommodating times. The teachers designed the course so there is no better person to ask then them. It’s important to develop a relationship with professors early on because it shows you care about your grades. They are the ones to write your letters of recommendation and want you to succeed as long as you put in the effort.
Another thing I am happy I did was to minor in Counseling and Human Services. Being a psychology major has the perk of having plenty of room for electives. I was unsure of what I wanted to minor in and I had enough electives to do so. A minor looks good on job and grad school applications so since you have the space it is yo your benefit. A minor may be extra work but it’s worth a couple of extra classes in the end. If you are unsure of what minor to take just ask your advisor or think of the past classes you have taken outside of your major that you have enjoyed and are passionate about.
Lastly I am jealous of the time you have left here. Freshman year can be overwhelming but the best times are yet to come. Take advantage of everything Scranton has to offer you and study hard. Also don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your time here. Aside from your education you will gain memories and friendship that will be with you forever. Good luck the next four years and have fun!
Dear Incoming Psychology Major:
As you begin your journey at the University of Scranton, you may be feeling nervous, confused, anxious, scared, excited, and/or overwhelmed. Rest assured, these feelings are normal; I also felt them four years ago. Your time at the University of Scranton will be challenging and rewarding. You will meet new people; gain knowledge; learn to use evidence and research; experience internal growth; and question your morals, values, and opinions. Getting an education at the University of Scranton is about more than just learning; it is about finding out who you are.
Each student at the University of Scranton leaves with his or her own unique story. For example, I entered my freshman year as a biochemistry major. I enjoyed biology and chemistry classes in high school so I thought that was the route I should take in college. I was wrong. I found no meaning in those classes and began putting no effort into homework, studying, or attending class. I knew I needed to make a change, or I was not going to graduate. During my second semester of freshman year I decided to experiment with different classes, one of which was an introduction to psychology course. I enjoyed the content of the course, liked the department faculty and staff, and felt like I belonged there. I declared a psychology major before freshman year ended.
I did not spend much time at school outside of classes. I commuted from 20 minutes away. In addition, I had a part-time job throughout my four years as an undergraduate student. I needed to work enough hours to pay for books, school supplies, gas, car insurance, parking passes, my phone bill, and tuition. I did not have time to get involved with clubs or other extracurricular activities. As a result, I volunteered with organizations that allowed me to make my own schedule and pertained to psychology. For example, I raised a service dog for two years. She just graduated and was placed as a facility service dog in an emotional support classroom. I also fostered kittens; founded and organized two 5K runs to support local animal shelters; assisted in coordinating a 5K and fair to benefit environmental agencies; and helped clean, cook, and do laundry for a local youth shelter.
You are the author of your own story. Know that sometimes you will be a wordsmith – a master of your story; other times you will be plagued with writer’s block. The most important advice I could give you is to take care of yourself. Surround yourself with a support system of friends and family that could celebrate with you during the good times and help guide, motivate, and encourage you in the bad times. In addition, find other self-care strategies that work for you such as exercising, reading, and/or journaling. Make time for your preferred self-care strategy a few times a week; you will notice differences in your mood and energy level.
I also recommend taking electives that appeal to you. I have watched some of my fellow peers take electives just because they appeared to be an “easy” A. Instead, take courses that you are interested in regardless of the instructor and perceived level of difficulty. Use electives as an opportunity to extend your knowledge within psychology and other disciplines. The biggest mistake you could make is to take time for granted. Four years is not a lot of time; put thought into the courses you choose. You should consider taking Psychology of Diversity, Environmental/Conservation Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Field Experience in Clinical Settings, and Modern Concepts of Human Biology. One course has the power to change your life.
If you think you may be interesting in joining a club, playing a sport, or conducting research with a faculty member, make sure to pursue it. Do not sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you; create an opportunity for yourself. The faculty and staff in the psychology department are some of the most kind, understanding, intelligent, and outgoing people I have ever met. They want you to succeed. Ask them questions, go to them for guidance, and listen to their advice. I also urge you to volunteer for different organizations. Find causes that matter to you and make a difference in the local community.
The one regret I have is that I did not challenge myself enough. I wish I had created a new club, event, or tradition. In addition, I wish I had formed better relationships with some faculty members. I tended to remain discrete and subtle. I should have spoken up more. I left many great ideas, opinions, and stories uncommunicated. Do not make the same mistake I did. Show other students, faculty, staff, and the university community who you are. As my time ends at The University of Scranton, yours begins; make each moment count. Good luck, my friend.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Congratulations! Welcome to the Psychology Department. I hope the next four years are full of good times, great laughs, meaningful learning, and is a life changing experience. I encourage you to work hard, step out of your comfort zone, and make lifelong friends.
College has been be both amazing and difficult. Something important I learned the past four years is that meaningful life lessons and personal growth come from challenges. There is no rule book on being successful in college. I encourage you to write your own story. Adjusting to college and finding yourself does not happen overnight but the journey is worth it. Make the most of the next four years, they fly by.
I came to Scranton as an undecided major. I felt as though I had little guidance or direction about my future. This was normal. I quickly learned that it is ok to not have a plan. After a year of soul searching, I declared my major in psychology the beginning of sophomore year. It took a semester or two, but I soon realized I made the right decision. I recommend taking different courses of interest both in and out of your major. Strive for a well-rounded and diverse education. Find out the topics that most interest you, exhaust every opportunity. However, also understand that it is normal for interests, future plans, and your major to change.
I hope to help you on your path as a psychology major. I believe majoring in psychology has provided me with the necessary skills to understand and help others. At the very least it has given me the tools to discover who I am and help myself. I always say, “the world would be a better place if everyone knew more about psychology.” Do not get me wrong, some topics and courses will without a doubt be torturous and boring. However, one day everything you have learned will come together and click. Realizing the connections between different topics from courses is an amazing feeling, it feels as though all you’re work has paid off.
I encourage you to make the psychology department your new home. The department is a community of people who are here to help you on your undergraduate journey. Everything you need to succeed is in your reach. It is your duty to use the opportunities provided and take the necessary steps to succeed. A few great ways to be involved in the psychology department are to join psychology club and PSI CHI, get to know the psychology faculty, and explore internship opportunities. Reach out to faculty, upperclassmen, and alumni about registering for classes, internship or job opportunities, and questions about the field. In addition, utilize the Center for Career Development in Ciszek Hall. They provide guidance in career planning, resume reviews, and host a Career Expo once a semester.
Furthermore, I encourage you to be involved on campus sooner rather than later. Before you know it, you will be writing this same letter your last month as an undergraduate. Join a club, go on a retreat, and participate in events such as Relay for Life, Take Back the Night, and the International Service Program. Get involved in the community, learn about diverse populations, and be for and with others. I advise you to live the next four years for yourself, not someone else.
Another resource I want to make you aware of is the Counseling Center on the 6th floor of O’Hara Hall. College life can be difficult, confusing, and stressful. You should never be afraid to ask for help from family, friends, professors or a counselor. Although academics are important, your health and well-being come first.
Moreover, the psychology major requires core classes. I recommend getting those and your liberal arts courses out of the way first. My favorite courses include, childhood, psychology of diversity, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, and field experience in the clinical setting. The field of psychology can be challenging and stressful. Statistics, research methods, cognitive psychology, and behavioral neuroscience were among the most difficult course for me. Remember, your professors are her to help you learn and grow. Ask your professors questions about class material and take advantage of office hours. And do not forget to pop in and say hello to the department’s lovely administrative assistant.
As a first-year student, you may feel excited, nervous, home-sick, and overwhelmed. I advise you to make Scranton your new home, away from home. Explore new opportunities, take lots of pictures, discover yourself, and be safe. Best wishes!
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to Scranton! I graduated from Scranton this past May with a degree in Psychology. As I look back on my college career, I feel as if I can share some advice with you that may help you navigate your way through your four years of college.
As you go through your college career, it is important to remember to keep an open mind. Of course there will be classes that you like more than others, but every now and then you will end up loving a class that you were almost certain you would hate. For example, my junior year I was dreading taking Research Methods because I thought it would be a class in which I would invest ample amounts of time, but get no reward. I quickly realized I was wrong. Come the end of the course, I looked forward to going to class and I learned many valuable lessons. Had the course not been a requirement, the dread I felt towards the class would have been enough to stop me from registering for it, and as a result my college experience and future career path would not have been the same.
As a result of the time and energy I put into Research Methods, the professor asked me to be his teaching assistant. I highly recommend being a TA at some point in your college career. I was a TA for two professors, once for Statistics in the Behavioral Sciences and the other time for Research Methods. Not only is it a great resume builder, but also it gave me the opportunity to get to know my professors better and reinforce my knowledge of both subjects. It also has a social aspect to it, because I tutored a few students in those classes, allowing me to get to know fellow psychology majors.
Getting involved is something that can only enhance your college experience. I regret not committing to any clubs or teams during my time at Scranton, both in the psychology department specifically and the campus in general. There are so many ways to be a part of something on campus, and it is never too late to join. If not the campus, try to get involved in the surrounding community. There are counseling centers in Scranton that are not far from campus, and they can always use volunteers.
Although it is important to get involved and to put effort into all of your classes, try not to overwork yourself. If there is too much on your plate, it will be more difficult for you to thrive in anything. Personally, I made sure to never take more than six classes each semester. Of those six, only three of them were psychology courses. I found that when the majority of my classes were in the psychology department, I would get material mixed up and would sometimes get bored. On the other hand, taking classes in various fields excites me. I believe that taking classes in different areas strengthened my understanding of psychology concepts because it allowed me to apply what I learned in psychology classes to other areas.
One way to make sure you do not overwork yourself is to plan out when you are going to fulfill all the requirements for the psychology major. Make an academic timeline and stick to it. In order to do that, you have to know whether certain classes are only offered in certain semesters, and whether certain classes you wish to take have prerequisites. Planning out your academic timeline seems time consuming, but it will save you time in the long run because you will not have to spend time planning out your classes each time you register. Also, you will not have to worry about whether or not you met all the requirements before graduation.
My last piece of advice for you is to take classes that you are interested in. You will retain more information when you are invested in the subject. My favorite psychology courses that I took were Childhood Development and Abnormal Psychology. I would take those classes every semester if I could. The reason why they were my favorite classes is because I learned something new and exciting every class. Taking classes that I enjoyed validated my major choice. I was excited to learn, and now I am excited to take what I learned and use it to set the world on fire.
Enjoy your time in college! Before you know it you will be exactly where I am right now: sitting at your computer, writing a letter to an incoming psychology major, wondering how it all went by so fast.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to Scranton! You’re at the beginning of an exciting journey. Make sure you take the time to slow down and reflect on your experiences. It may not seem like it now, but the four years fly by. Psychology is such a fascinating major course of study. If you are at all interested in the human experience, if you’ve ever asked yourself why humans behave the way they do, if you’ve ever had the desire to take a deep dive into human consciousness, this is the right major for you. I selected the psych major because I had a desire to understand other human beings, specifically abnormalities in human behavior. I complemented this major with a dual major in philosophy. Psychology exposed me to the empirical research – what is known – about human behavior and philosophy introduced me to the historical canon of human thought and imagination on the human condition. These two majors provided me with a dynamic and well-rounded understanding of the human being. Fun fact – psychology as a discipline was born out of the philosophical tradition!
I think the best part about being a psychology major is the freedom and imagination you maintain with respect to your future. By that I mean the psychology major does not limit you as much as other majors with regard to what you would like to pursue after undergrad. Psychology allows you to continue to project possible selves into the future. Throughout my time here, I’ve considered becoming a clinical PhD in psychology, working in a direct service profession, and teaching at a university level. Next year I’m pursuing work in the non-profit human services realm with the hope of gaining some job experience before I apply to law school. My point – psychology keeps your imagination about what you could become alive and well. It’s flexible and amenable to your shifting conceptions of self while bolstering you with the skills you need to be successful in nearly every pursuit. Almost no one knows exactly who they want to be at the ripe age of eighteen. Most of your classmates will switch majors or change paths throughout their time here. Maybe you will too. I encourage you to make room for changes in your plan for yourself that you have now. College is a time of rapid and dynamic growth of the self. Lean into the discomfort that sometimes comes with that growth and work toward becoming your most authentic self.
In terms of the courses I’ve taken as a psychology major, I think the most valuable ones were abnormal psychology, research methods and statistics, evolutionary psychology, and history and literature of psychology. Abnormal psychology exposed me to the etiology (cause), assessment, and diagnosis of various psychopathologies. We took each psychological disorder in turn (some examples – schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, etc.) and traced possible causes, methods of assessment, and proper diagnosis as well as treatment. Learning about the nature of the various disorders was so intriguing. It was also very powerful to debunk common misconceptions about each disorder. Research methods and statistics gave me a thorough understanding of the best research methods and allowed me to conduct my own research in a classroom setting. Establishing a canon of good research (operational definition of good – reliable, valid, and replicable) is the only way that psychology advances as a discipline. Evolutionary psychology rocked my world. I would highly recommend this course. It introduced me to compelling evolutionary theories on human mating and sex differences that have bearing on our interpersonal relationships today. Evolutionary psychology can be reductionistic if it is your only perspective on the human person, but if you take it in doses, it can be a truly valuable insight. That class changed the way I see the world. I think about evolutionary explanations often and cite the research frequently. Finally, history and literature of psychology was one of the better courses I took this year because for the first time, I got to read original literature that founded psychology as a discipline – thinkers like Freud, James, Wilson, Frankl, Skinner, Gilligan. It was so powerful to read each author’s seminal works and trace how their thoughts shaped the field for years to come. Also, there is a qualitative difference in reading about these authors in a textbook or the secondary literature and reading them in the original. Textbooks and sometimes even professors water down or reduce these thinkers. I would also recommend taking psychology of language or cognitive psychology if you’re at all interested in linguistics.
Finally, some words of advice. First, make sure you read the assigned course text and complete your academic work with excellence. You are here to learn. Your primary job is to be a student. Take it seriously. Knowledge is powerful. Don’t cheat or half-ass your way through this experience because you’re only harming yourself in the end. Second, listen to yourself. Reflect often on your designated path and adjust often. Third, take a course that you are interested in purely for the sake of itself, not because its useful for you or because its directly related to your major. You might be surprised how exciting it is to pursue education for its intrinsic value. Fourth, take advantage of the incredible opportunities that are offered to you here both in and out of the classroom. The university is teeming with life. Jump in! Actively participate in this experience. Interested in research? Join a lab. Passionate about service? Go on an international or domestic service trip or go downtown Scranton and serve in a local soup kitchen. Never played frisbee? Join the ultimate frisbee team! My point – try anything and everything. Expose yourself to activities and people that force you outside of what you think you know about yourself and challenge you to grow and shift and change. That’s what this experience is about. You are in a unique microcosm – half in the real world, half in a protected bubble – that allows you to explore the edges of your being, to stretch yourself out and flirt with possibility. Take advantage of it. Finally, make good friends and hold them close. Cherish your relationships and have so much fun. College is a blast. I can promise you will hold the memories of these days close for the rest of your life. Never again will you have all the people you love most in the world in the same space at the same time. This is a truly unique and valuable experience. Regard it with the utmost gratitude. Last thing – call your parents and tell them how thankful you are for them. They miss you. Thank them for getting you here and supporting you every step of the way. Best of luck to you!
Peace and blessings,
P.S. Make sure you take some time to learn about the Jesuits. AMDG.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
I want to begin by assuring you that if you feel overwhelmed by the start of college or the rigors of higher education that you will adjust faster than you think. I remember being frightened to start college because it was both a new academic and social challenge. I had to remind myself, and now I’ll remind you, to take deep breaths and trust that you will adjust and it is perfectly normal to make mistakes or change your mind. The truth is, the experience is what you make it out to be. I can promise that if you work hard and show that you care both the faculty and students at the University of Scranton will be there to support you. I urge you to form your own opinions about professors and your peers. It can be easy to take other’s words at face value but everyone’s experience is different. Hopefully, I can impart some useful advice and provide some comfort as I share my experiences and the trajectory of my college career.
I began my college career as a Psychology major. I was unsure of exactly what route I wanted to take after graduation but I was sure that at least part of my career should include talk therapy. Believe me, people in my life had many questions, namely, “well, what do you plan to do with that degree?” At first, this question led to intense feelings of anxiety. However, as I progressed through my coursework, took on new responsibilities as both a research and teaching assistant, and attained field experience in a substance abuse treatment center I realized there were so many things I could do with my degree as a starting point.
Research can be an important facet of being a psychology major. I recommend speaking to different psychology faulty members about the research the do and ways you can get involved. We do have the option for you to compete a faculty-student research program which will show up on your transcript. If you just want to see if you enjoy doing research, try asking a professor if you could volunteer in their lab. In addition to research opportunities the your professors will also be looking for teaching assistants. Serving as a teaching assistant intimidated me at first because I had a hectic schedule. However, I found it to be a great way to strengthen my time management skills and learn more about teaching. I took the field experience in a clinical setting course which proved to be indispensable in deciding what career path I should take. Sitting in on both individual and group therapy sessions helped to cement my desire to become a clinician. I learned many valuable things about the department, opportunities offered, and possible career paths from upperclassmen. Completing my work in the psychology department computer lab allowed me to form friendships with my classmates. I found it important to cultivate collaborative relationships with my peers and I learned so much from them.
Additionally, classes go by faster and are more enriching if you participate. In small classes there are so many opportunities to share your thoughts with classmates which often lead to great discussions. As psychology majors, it is also important that you read the textbook pages assigned on your syllabus. Some may tell you it isn't necessary but trust me to get the most from your education it is. A psychology major teaches you to think critically and look for evidence to back up any claims you hear. You also gain many transferable skills such as analytical reasoning which I found helpful when taking standardized tests for graduate school. The major also provides plenty of room for you to pick up a minor that best serves your interests. In your junior year the psychology department requires you to take a career development course which is extremely helpful in dispelling myths and preparing you for life after college.
The best advice I can give to you is to get involved in the department. In my experience every professor will take the time to help guide you through you college career. When you feel overwhelmed I recommend staying organized and planning ahead the best you can. Please don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek out opportunities, and ask for help if you need it. I believe these four years to have been essential to my development as a person. Try and enjoy your time in college, I know academics are important, but the friends you make here are really what makes college great.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
First off, welcome to Scranton! Get ready to experience some of the most challenging, fulfilling, and exhilarating times of your life thus far. Almost four years ago, I was exactly in your position ready to take on the journey ahead. Mixed with emotions of apprehensiveness, nervousness, and enthusiasm, I began a new chapter of my life. College is the time for freedom and both, finding out who you are and who you wish to become. Second, I want to offer you some advice in navigating this new part of your life.
One of the most important parts of your college experience should be developing relationships with your professors. Here at Scranton, all of the professors are beyond welcoming and willing to assist you in a variety of ways. Take advantage of their office hours, ask questions, and be open to their advice. One of the most valuable experiences I had as an undergrad was becoming a teaching assistant for one of my professors during my sophomore year. Through the relationship I developed with her, she trusted me and gave me the opportunity to become a TA. I graded material, statistically reported outcomes for assignments, served as a source of support for current students, and facilitated with creating course materials. As an undergraduate, through this experience, I learned the importance and irreplaceable reward of working closely with faculty members. The relationships you form with faculty will also be useful when applying to graduate school or entering the workforce. Either way, if the opportunity ever arises, I encourage you to take it.
During your junior or senior year as a psychology major, you have the opportunity to take the Field Experience course. This unique course gives you the opportunity to experience your field of interest in a hands on way. The course offers you internship experience while also incorporating readings and class discussions, making it unlike anything else. Deciding to take this course was one of the most fulfilling parts of my time here at Scranton. I gained invaluable experience that I will take with me throughout my career. Take opportunities that arise to you to gain experience in your desired field. Whether it be through the specified course or on your own accord, I encourage you to experience psychology in the real world.
One thing about college is that in and of itself, it is a paradox. This incongruency lies in the fact that you are supposed to have fun, yet at the same time maintain respectable grades. Although this may be the case, I insist that you take your courses, even the monotonous ones, seriously. Your first semester will not be easy. It is quite different than high school and may take you some time to acclimate to your new environment. But, do not let it discourage you. I promise in the end, all of your hard work will pay off . And most importantly, do not forget to have fun. It is important to stay on top of your assignments and get the best possible grades you can, but, I assure you most of your college memories will come from your experiences and the friendships form. Classes end, but the bonds you formed here at Scranton will last a lifetime.
There is more to college than just your 15 credit semesters. Here at the University of Scranton, there are a variety of clubs, organizations, and teams. There truly is something for everyone and I encourage you to find your something. Not only does joining a team or club offer you the ability to do something you enjoy, it looks good on resumes and serves as an outlet for stress relief. I recommend joining the Psychology Club as it is a great way to meet your fellow students and get involved in the university. Joining a sports team will also allow you to form bonds that I ensure you will feel just like family. Regardless, get involved in more than just your five classes.
One regret that I had while entering college was feeling inadequate because I did not have a plan. I entered college undecided and took a variety of classes that I thought would interest me. After a year, I declared a psychology major in the beginning of my second year. But, even then, I was confused and had many options ahead. I can honestly say I had not the slightest clue what I wanted to do my future until the first semester of my senior year. I know it may seem late, but, at the end of the day, it all worked out. As I look back, I wish that I did not spend the time that I did worrying about my future and feeling like a failure because I did not know what I wanted to do. It is not going to be easy, but having dedication and actively involving yourself in your field will lead you to your answer. I sit here today as a senior, meeting all the requirements for a degree, and graduating in a few weeks regardless of all the confusion along the way.
Lastly, do not rush and wish your time away here at Scranton. There will be times when you wish it was over, but I guarantee you that you will hear the first notes of Pomp and Circumstance in no time. Get involved, take every opportunity that comes your way, study hard and most importantly, embrace being a Royal while you can.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
You are embarking into the world of the mind. There is so much more than what you probably are considering psychology to be. Coming to the end of my senior year as a psychology major I can tell you all about human behaviors, abnormal psychology, sensation and perception, and many other fields of interest. You will have the opportunity to choose many electives that excite you in the field and you may have required courses that are of lesser interest. Even the classes you are thinking are going to be tedious and dreadful, such as Psychology Statistics, I even learned to enjoy. If you are able to make time in a busy college schedule, immerse yourself in the Scranton community whether through service in local organizations or on campus. Although the work is time consuming I promise its time commitment is worth it.
I was fortunate to travel abroad to Palma de Mallorca, Spain to study abroad for a six-week course in the summer. Many students doubt that they have time to travel for a semester and still complete their requirements. Although I went for an extended period of time in the summer I know many friends who had the most incredible experiences and courses during a semester by traveling abroad. As a psychology major you will be working directly with people and learning how uniqueness is essential to their identity and their behaviors. Traveling to a foreign place allows you the opportunity to explore and live life to the fullest while still getting credit for college courses. Even if the course does not relate to psychology, as I always think, it can’t hurt you to learn about something new. I was able to live on an island for six weeks with my best friends and still do well in school, what could be better? Take the risk and immerse yourself in new cultural experiences.
I recommend joining psychology club no matter if you are set on remaining as a psychology major or thinking about other fields of study. Psychology club helps you find friends within your major that can endure challenging classes together and help one another prepare for exams. Joining this club also helps to bond with psychology professors who you may partake in research with or become a teaching assistant. I highly recommend after completing a course you did well in, talking with that teacher about becoming their teaching assistant for a semester or more. Creating the connection with the professor will help you down the road when you need further recommendations, whether for a future job or applying to a graduate program. Even if you chose not to become a teaching assistant, make sure you are friendly with a teacher or two whose class you succeeded in so when the time comes you are not worried about who will write your recommendations.
If you have the time in your spring semester of junior year or fall or spring of senior year, sign up promptly for the practicum experience. Although this course is not required to graduate, it is hard to relate what you learn in class to the real world without first hand experiences. This past semester I ended up in hospice completing my internship and it has truly become the most humbling eye opening experience in not only my future profession, but also my whole life. You learn what areas are of interest to you and areas that you may avoid in the future. It may seem like an internship is a big time commitment while balancing other courses, but I found that my time management skills were strengthened and I was more focused on getting my work done and studying ahead of time. Although an internship is far in the future, it is something that kept me motivated and excited as my years in college passed.
I hope that as you begin your journey at the University of Scranton you become excited and open to a wide variety of classes and enjoy every second you have in your four years. Don’t let stress get to you, simply take every week one at a time. My last bit of advice on the academic side of psychology, papers will easily pile up if you are not cautious and when I realized how negative procrastination would alter each week of school I knew that getting ahead of the work is the best advice I could share. As I am ending my senior year I can definitely say that being a psychology major has taught me so much about not only other’s behaviors, but most importantly about myself in many great ways. Although this is the classic statement about college, the four years you have will be your best so enjoy them!
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
You and I were given a great opportunity to change our lives and ones we affect daily. Pardon my cliché start, but attending college was once an act that was given to the wealthy without much regard for common folk. As someone who went on this journey, I want to relay my experiences, tips, and reality checks over the last four years.
I am a first-generation college student obtaining a baccalaureates degree, and I will be pursuing more academic opportunities in the near future. Unlike most students, I was not ambitious, nor did I have an interest in going to college. Attending higher education was an immigrant mom’s dream, and I felt obligated to fulfill it as a daughter and older sister. High school had drained me with the AP classes, clubs, sports, and part-time job. I knew college was much more demanding. My initial transition for the first year and a half was too difficult considering that students had mentors and guidance from faculty. One of my biggest challenges was letting go the idea that I would be a doctor. I wish that I had known sooner of the money wasted trying to purse that concept from 2015-2017.
I failed to enter college with a plan, which is the one thing my advisor forced me to have. You will want to create an excel sheet with general education classes and classes needed for the psychology major. Then you will want to break them down by semesters, including intercession and summer class. This plan is designated for you to stay on track your major and grades. For me, it is easier to physically see changes that I need to make than to think about it. I also failed to learn to read my cap sheet, which is your academic road map that breaks down your course.
College is going to challenge your strengths and bring out your vulnerabilities. It is important to not perceive yourself as weak because you are growing, and you are experiencing a shift in normalcy. Find healthy and positive outlets, like going on retreats or join to find commonality with other people. Disclose to your professors any struggles because they will understand and will assist if next steps need to be made. I have found that I did share some struggles like other professors, who are willing to express that and it could produce a positive and professional bond. Someone once told me that if I was studying psychology that I was looking for answers. When I joined the major, I was oblivious to my strengths and weakness. I tried classes in three other different majors before I settled on psychology. At the time, I was not looking for answers just a major. Introduction to psychology, Sensation and Perception, Psychology of Language, and Cognitive Psychology offers you an inside to brain and processes that affect us daily and quickly. Where I found most of my interest were in the subjects that challenged my mentality, Abnormal and Career Development. Abnormal gave me insight to what I have always heard in media and news when talking about mental health and diagnosis.
That is where I learned about my mental health and of others. Career Development ease my stressed. That material provided for that class was easy to comprehend and informative because it does directly affect our future. That course taught me all the working options that psychology had to offer, statistics about graduate and doctorate schools. I can now take my time and plan my future, accordingly.
Becoming a psychology major was one of the better decisions, I have made. I learned most of what I needed to be a successful adult and person. This is the time to be uncomfortable and unaware; the time you find friends and new family on campus. You will not be the same person when you finish college, and that is the objective. You will be expanding your knowledge as a young citizen. Do not focus on people’s achievement. It is not one of the same. So, I commend that you have started this journey and I hope you can learn from my struggles.
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Firstly, allow me to welcome to the University of Scranton! Congratulations on being accepted here and selecting psychology as your major. I am writing this letter as one of many graduating seniors from the class of 2019. This letter is actually one of the last assignments in the final class required for all psychology majors. I remember reading some of these when I was a freshman, and I remember just skimming through them because I didn’t feel like reading. Looking back, I regret doing that because they might have changed my experience in the psychology program. My point is, actually read these letters and in four (short) years. you will feel the same nostalgia that I am feeling when you write this as well.
I am not going to lie to you, there are times when this major can be tough. Obviously, there will be some classes that you will find easier than others, but there are classes that require multiple hours of work every day. So, my advice is to set aside some time each day to get some work done so you do not end up doing everything last minute. Trust me, you will thank yourself later. But do not be discouraged by the work either. The faculty is fantastic and will help you however they can. However, psychology is one of the few majors that pairs nicely with other majors and minors. So, if you are considering adding a second major or a minor, then by all means do. Personally, I know of numerous people who are double-majors in psychology and counseling, criminal justice, and education. There are many paths you can take as a psychology major, so take some time and explore your options if you have to.
If you are like me, you probably chose to be a psychology major so you can learn all about different diseases and disorders. Well, there is much more to psychology than that. As you will soon learn, psychology has many different parts and theories that can be taught as their own classes. Take the time to actually learn about more than what you are already interested in. Maybe you will find a new passion or enhance your current one. There is a wide range of classes you will be able to choose from, so do not be afraid to try something new. For example, I came in as just a Psychology major, and I added a Criminal Justice minor in my sophomore year. I have already had an internship in the criminal justice field, and now I am looking for job opportunities after graduation. This just goes to show that you may come into college with an idea of the exact job you want, but it could very well change over time. There are some people who change their major at every semester, and are still unsure if it is what they want to do. But do not be afraid to try if you think it could be a career for you.
The same goes for things to do outside of class as well. Make sure you get involved in activities and clubs on campus. There are so many clubs on campus and there is something for everyone. Personally, I was on the ultimate frisbee team here and it was the best group I have ever been a part of. And do not be afraid to start a club if it doesn’t exist already. There are also many of retreats offered by Campus Ministries. Take it from someone who waited until their senior year to go on one, they can be great experiences if you make them worthwhile. Take every opportunity that comes to you, otherwise you may regret it. And even if you end up realize a decision you made was the wrong one, use it as a learning opportunity. You will probably learn just as much outside the classroom as you do inside. Try to make the most of your next four years here. There is so much to do, you just have to find it.
The University of Scranton is a great place to grow as an individual. As a psychology major, you will learn many new things that can transfer to life skills and knowledge. However, this does not mean you can go around diagnosing your friends with the new mental illness you learned about in Abnormal Psychology class. As I previously stated, there is a lot more to psychology than mental disorders. You will learn a lot and it is your job to use your newfound knowledge wisely. Lastly, part of the Ignatian values is to “go and set the world on fire.” No, this does not mean literally set things on fire. It means to bring the same passion you have here in Scranton to the rest of the world. After four years here, this will be a lot easier than it sounds.
A Proud Royal
Dear Incoming Psychology Major,
Welcome to the University of Scranton! I hope you’re adjusting well to the campus. Some people have a harder time than others, but everyone eventually gets used to being away from home (unless you’re a commuter, in which case I hope getting involved on campus has been smooth).
Anyways, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about being a psychology major, so I hope this letter helps. Coming in with a major is definitely helpful, but the best advice I can give is to take your required classes outside the major seriously. Even people who were completely confident in their choice of major have been known to switch at some point, and there is no shame in doing that. Explore outside the major for areas you also might be interested in, and you might surprise yourself with what you find.
If you do decide to stay in the major, also approach it with the same level of flexibility. Psychology is a vast field, and no one fully understands that until they have spent some time in the psychology department. You may come in interested in becoming a therapist, but you may walk out wanting to be a professor, a social worker, or an addiction specialist. The point I make is that you should be open to everything psychology has to offer. Again, you may surprise yourself with where you end up.
As far as the psychology department here, there are numerous classes you have to take, and there are numerous classes you do not. Let’s start with the required ones. You will have a list of classes that you must complete in order to graduate with a psychology major. Still, there is choice still available. You can choose which professors you take for which classes. I cannot recommend enough that you ask around about the professors that are teaching a class you are about to take. Other students who have gone through it before have incredibly valuable advice. Even if you end up with a bad professor, these students can give you tips on how to get through it.
There are classes you have a choice in, however. There are the core eight classes, where you have a choice between pairs of classes, and there are the psychology electives that you have complete freedom over. Approach these courses differently than the required courses. Look at the course first, then the professor. These courses, more than the required ones, expose you to the different branches of psychology that you might be interested in. Missing out on them because they are taught by a professor you have heard ghost stories about is something you may grow to regret. A lot of these courses have multiple professors, but some do not. I can say that one of my favorite courses, Learning and Behavior, is taught by someone I heard nightmares about, but I took it anyways because the concepts fascinated me. That class was one of the most interesting I have ever taken, and it is also the class I would recommend to take this professor with because it is his most bearable course.
You are lucky to go to a school small enough that it has endless opportunities to create a relationship with your professors. I have psychology major friends at other schools who have never spoken to their professors because their classes are 300-person lecture halls. Start forming relationships early. For one thing, you will thank yourself later. Whether you decide to continue on to graduate school or go directly into the workforce, you will need some letters of recommendation. You want the letters to be very personal so that you stand out. More than that, though, it will make your experience here all the more enjoyable. Psychology professors are very strange people, and my interactions with them have been exhilarating to say the least. You will never be bored if you hang around AMH enough.
As far as extracurriculars, the psychology major perfectly allows you to have some fun on campus. We do a lot of work in the major, but it is also manageable. There is no way you will not have time to get involved on campus as a psychology major. If you find your academics are taking up too much of your time, that is probably because of the general education requirements, and those will mostly be done by the end of this year.
My last bit of advice is to just enjoy your time both here at the university and here in the major. It is a very quirky program, and you will want to enjoy it while it lasts. I’m not going to give you the “It’ll be over before you know it!” speech, but I will say that you will enjoy yourself more if you appreciate each day as its own. Good luck!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.