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. 

1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20
21-25
26-30 31-35

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

As I sit here on the Dionne Green and type this letter to you, I have much gratitude. I have gratitude for the beautiful 70° weather in Scranton today, the campus and the people that have nurtured me into the person I have grown to be, and the everlasting Scranton community that is now a part of me. I am a senior and in a few weeks I will be walking across the stage and receiving my diploma with two degrees in Psychology and Philosophy, and a minor in Entrepreneurship. I promise you that you will blink and then one day you will be in the same position as me-graduating from college. During your four years at the University aim to get the most fulfillment from them, whether that means mental, spiritual, physical, or all of the above. In this letter, I will offer you some advice that I gathered during my four college years.

In regards to your psychology major, well, I hope you benefit from it as much as I did. As a first-year, I entered the University of Scranton as a biology major on a pre-medicine track. At the end of my first semester, I immediately switched from biology to psychology on a pre-physician assistant track. I took several biology and chemistry classes, but always found the material taught in my psychology classes the most engaging and captivating. However, it took me three whole years, until I was a senior, to realize that medicine, regardless of the field, was not for me. It took me three whole years to let go of my ego and consider a different path for myself. During the COVID-19 pandemic I took the time to reflect on where my life was heading and who I was becoming. I talked with close friends and family about where I envision myself after graduation, five years from now, and twenty years from now. With the help and encouragement from my closest allies, I decided to add an entrepreneurship minor, and because of this decision, I finally found where I was meant to be.. This decision led me to becoming an intern for the Women's Entrepreneurship Center, and realizing my potential, and ultimately my natural talents. For example, I helped over ten women in the local area write a business plan, start a business, and thereby determine their own fate. If it were not for my willingness to try new things and open myself up to new opportunities and perspectives, then I would have still been a lost soul today. That being said, it is never too late to change your path. Try new things. Take the risk.

Truth be told, I learned that my major in psychology pretty much served as a four year therapy session for me. I come from a family with various undiagnosed mental health issues, and by default these issues have impacted me. My way of coping with my family, and my own problems, was by taking a deep-dive and thoroughly learning about mental health through my psychology studies. Therefore, I was able to understand those around me, including my family and even myself.

You will learn all about this in your Psych Statistics and Research Methods course, but always dig deeper and try to understand the process that led to the results. For example, you will come across several news articles, Snapchat news stories, and questionable Tik Tok theories, but do 

your best to unpack what is being presented to you. Never take something for face value. Look into the research, conduct your own research, and ask questions.

That leads me to my third piece of advice: ask copious amounts of questions in class. You will realize how intelligent the professors are in the psychology department so take advantage of that. The professors will become somewhat of a support system, a family i;i.way from home, that will help navigate you through your four years at Scranton. Go to their office hours, send them emails, and ask them questions. You will learn a lot from picking their brain. Get your tuition money's worth of knowledge.

Finally, my last piece of advice to you is always hold the door open for another student walking behind you. This piece of advice will transform your experience here at the University of Scranton. It will turn colleagues into friends, and create a sense of kinship in the most mundane situations. Make the most of these small instances because those are the ones you will look back on in appreciation.

P.s. The more open you are with others, the more open they will be with you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable (at times).

I wish you the best. 

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Dear First-Year Psychology Major,

Welcome to the psychology department at the University of Scranton! I hope you are excited to embark on your four-year journey. This department offers tons of opportunities to expand and tailor your interests, and it is a good idea to take advantage of what it has to offer.

It is perfectly fine to not know what you want to do after graduation yet. However, it would be beneficial to get involved in faculty members' labs, psychology club, and teaching assistant positions as soon as possible if you are interested. I first joined a lab because I thought I might be interested in getting a PhD, but it actually taught me that doing years of research is not for me. I am glad I dipped my toe into something new because it showed me what I do not want and helped me sort out my goals. The experience also impressed the admissions counselors for my master's program and would probably be impressive on a job application as well. If you do end up applying to PhD programs, you will need to have lab experience. Joining a lab can only help you in the end, so if you have the time, get involved! You will get to work closely with a faculty member and other psychology students.

Serving as an undergraduate teaching assistant twice was also an invaluable experience for me. It played a large role in helping me decide to continue my education in school psychology. I love being surrounded by teaching strategies and methods of education, and I loved being able to gain those skills. I wish I had been more involved in psychology club and Psi Chi throughout my years as an undergraduate. I did musical theater, and while I loved it more than anything, my rehearsals usually conflicted with psychology club meetings. I did attend a few times, however, and the psychology club is a warm environment that gives members the opportunity to socialize with students in their major or with a common interest in psychology. They do lots of service events each year, and I have many friends who got involved and looked forward to going each time. If you are interested in research, get involved with APSSC. These clubs will be further explained in your courses, and they are worth considering.

After your first year, you will be assigned a faculty advisor in the department to help you plan your course schedule for each semester until you graduate. If you are dissatisfied with your advisor for any reason, switch! There is no reason to stay with an advisor you do not work well with. If this is the case, approach a faculty member whom you would like to advise you and ask what you can do to make that happen. I promise that they will be willing to help.

If you chose psychology as a major because you want to work directly with people in a clinical setting, I would definitely recommend taking Clinical Psychology with Dr. Norcross in your junior or senior year. Not only will you learn a lot about psychological history, theories, and practice, but it also allows you to take Field Experience in the Clinical Setting for credit in a subsequent semester. Doing my internship for my field experience course was one of the best experiences of my college career. Sometimes, the most valuable education comes from hands-on work, and I feel prepared to start my school psychology master's because of the internship I did.

There are tons of psychology electives to choose from, so I recommend catering those electives to your specific interests or anticipated career goals. If you are interested in speech pathology, take Psychology of Language. If you are interested in child psychology or psychology of adulthood, take both Lifespan Development courses, Child Clinical Psychology, or Abnormal Child Psychology (after you have taken Abnormal Psychology and Clinical Psychology, of course). If you prefer the research side of psychology or are simply interested in non-clinical psychological phenomena, I recommend courses such as Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Behavioral Neuroscience.

The psychology major offers a flexible curriculum that allows you to add a double major, minor, concentration, or even all three. I was a part of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Program (SJLA) and ended up double-majoring in philosophy. I was interested in counseling and started taking courses over in that department, and I eventually added a minor in counseling and human services. Additionally, I added the Lifespan Development Concentration, as I already met all the requirements with my psychology and human services courses. If you are interested in another field, you can absolutely declare a major or minor in it along with being a psychology major.

I hope you make the most of your time in the psychology department and at the University in general. These are some things I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. My final piece of advice is to cherish every moment, as you will meet some amazing people. I wish you the best of luck with your studies and beyond.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Well, where should I even begin? There is certainly too much to tell within the confines of a welcome letter, but I will nonetheless try my best.

To begin, welcome! You have come to the right place. Coming out of a pandemic, the world is in desperate need for cultivated minds that are geared towards helping people. We all know the value of physical checkups; seeing a doctor once a year just to make sure everything is okay is imperative to our functioning and living healthy lives. All too often, however, our mental health is neglected. Unfortunately, although we are moving in the right direction, there is generally a negative stigma towards those that seek mental health therapy. Even if you aren't diagnosed with depression, anxiety, etc., it would be in your best interest to speak to a professional. You don't know what's there to get off your chest until you do. Alas, in this rigorous and rewarding field of study, there is much to learn that is sure to benefit both you and those around you. Regardless of what field you pursue, that being behavioral health, clinical, experimental, and the like, you will be benefiting fellow man and making the world a better place.

As mentioned, however, it will certainly not be an easy task. Psychology is an intense and comprehensive field of study, demanding focus and engagement across numerous fields. Unlike many of the other sciences whose courses feel very individualistic and seemingly lack overlap from class to class, psychology courses all work hand-in-hand with one another; it would be in your best interest to retain the useful knowledge gained in one class, as it is sure to help you in others.

During this final semester, I have had ample time to reflect on my overall experiences throughout my four years here at the University of Scranton. To say the least, I had a rocky start. Here's a piece of advice coming in here: do not date anyone your first year here! You may be led to believe that this is because you want to "be adventurous and test the waters." While that is indeed a factor, it's more along the lines of "setting good groundwork" and creating both the healthy educational and social framework that is necessary to have both a successful and enjoyable experience here. Consider this: you're in a brand-new environment with opportunities galore. Because you have these newfound liberties, you should want to capitalize on them, right? I foolishly invested far too much time in my first girlfriend here, as we had no parents or other factors separating us. Hell, we were two minutes away walking-distance from one another. As a result, my grades took a backseat, which is reflected by the poorest performance in my entire academic career: my freshman year of college. In addition, as many friendships were being made, my constant investment in this girl set me back while even people in my own dorm made friends without me. She was wonderful, but I lacked the discipline to balance my commitments. If you have the ability to perform said balance, then by all means do so, but I recommend otherwise.

Be sure to fully immerse yourself in both your studies and social activities. Like many aspects of life, you should be aiming to seek a "happy medium" between work and play. If you've seen The Shining, you know that "all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy." I implore you to please approach all activities (sports, clubs, gatherings, etc.) with an open mind and try new things. This was a lesson I learned during my sophomore year. I wound up trying clubs and began to become far more involved in school. Studies show that those who are involved in activities outside of the classroom actually perform better than those who devote constant time to academics exclusively. My junior year is when I once again became invested in the arts, particularly modeling, drawing, and sculpting, which is a spark of life I had lost after I graduated from high school. I have told my friends for years that "comfort is the enemy of progress;" you want to be constantly involved and keep your mind active. Of course, academics are and should be your priority, but you have to engage yourself elsewhere. Trust me, you will be doing yourself a favor, and you may even learn a thing or two about an undiscovered passion you have. Who knows? College is a time for self-discovery and cultivation of both the mind and body.

Here are a few closing bits of advice. Firstly, read your damn textbooks. I know it sounds either obvious or unnecessary, but I regret not reading anywhere near as much as I should have. Besides the fact that reading is inherently good for you, reading the texts teachers assign, regardless of how redundant or obnoxious they may seem, will only help you. It reinforces class material and provides an alternate angle towards an approach at understanding content. Next, make physical activity, whether that be sports or the gym, a consistent part of your schedule.

Working out helps regulate your mood and provides a dopamine rush, makes you healthier (obviously), and compels you to be more academically and socially engaged. I can't stress this enough, make physical activity a regular occurrence. Third, make time to study and review material. Not even before exams, but just regularly, it is good to take a few minutes and review class material instead of playing video games or loafing around. Fourth, avoid naps and regulate your sleep schedule. There is literally not enough time in the world, let alone on this letter, to explain the benefits of sleep. When people on all walks of life say that "sleep is the best medicine," they mean it.

Last but not least, recognize that you are in a privileged position. You are in the minority of people who are blessed to come to an expensive and wonderful Jesuit university who has the opportunity to get a bachelor's degree and make a difference in the world... don't be someone who will just piss it away. Make every step count. Consider what it took to get you here; you have parents willing to sacrifice their hard-earned money to send you here and professors that are willing to provide the tools necessary to be a successful and good human being. Remember this every day-go to class, study, make friends, and be involved. I promise you that you will have no regrets when you embrace this wonderful opportunity with full arms.

With this, I wish you the best of luck, fellow psychology student. Now is when you begin a new era of your life-an era that will shape your future for the better. Get out there and grab the bull by the horns! My best wishes to you!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

My four years in the psychology department have been filled with so many fond memories and I hope you have just as positive of an experience as I did! Starting in intro psychology, I met some of my best friends. The first semester which both feels like it happened yesterday and a lifetime ago, is a little awkward but totally worth it.

I know what you are thinking. I am in a new place. I barely know anyone. Everything is just new. It is okay that you are uncomfortable now. The best advice anyone gave me going into college is that everyone feels the exact same way that you do. Everyone is trying to make friends and figure out how they fit into this new environment. In a surprisingly short amount of time, things will fall into place. One of my best friends from college was in my orientation group. She was also a psychology major and we were both more reserved and introverted at orientation. The first weekend of school I asked her if she wanted to go to target with me and that's where it all began. Both of us were shy, but we made the small effort to put ourselves out there and there was a big payoff from it.

One of the biggest lessons I learned as a first year was time management. For the first time ever I was completely on my own to handle classes, meals, clubs, and a social life. It was more challenging than ever to say "no" when asked if you want to hang out or do things with a friend. Especially as a first year, you wonder if by saying no that will be the last invitation. I am here to tell you that it will not be the last invitation. This will make me sound like a nerd and I promise I had a social life, but it is okay to prioritize doing your schoolwork. You are a student first and, although it will suck in the moment, you will be glad you did well. Pro tip- you get a letter home if you earn a grade of a C- or below. Getting one of those home is not worth spending a few hours with your friends, trust me.

In the psychology department, I was an officer of psychology club for two years and I worked in the social psychology lab. I wish when I was a first year or a sophomore, I knew how to approach professors to ask for Teaching assistantships and research assistantships. When I was a first semester first year, I was under the impression that the student with the highest GPA and final grade in the class would automatically be offered these positions. I did not know until I was in my junior year that you need to approach the professors if you get a B+ or above in a course if you are interested in being their TA. I also learned in my junior year that, as a psychology major, you are allowed to TA for any introductory psychology course regardless of whether you took the professor or not. As for working in labs with professors, start learning about what each of the professors do early on. That way you can plan your electives and explore their interests, so you are ready to approach and ask to work with them before it's too late.

One of my biggest regrets now that I'm graduating is not taking as many psychology electives as I would have liked. I ended up taking a core 8 course as an elective. I am going into Marketing, so my psychology major has ended up being just my interests. Like a lot of psychology majors, I thought I was going to do clinical psychology. Those programs are more difficult to get into than medical school. They require a lot to get into and are a lot of work once you are into them. Do not restrict all of your options initially because you think you know what you want to do. These next four years are going to challenge you and teach you a lot about yourself. You might think you know what you want to do now, but do not wait until junior year career seminar to consider everything that is out there. I changed my second major in my junior year but know a lot of people who think it is too late for  them once they get to  their third year. It is not too late, and you will find your way.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major

Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton. I remember when I was admitted for the first time, I had many different feelings about transitioning to a new school with new people. Now leaving the University of Scranton, I can say that I have learned a lot from being a psychology major, and I am leaving with some of the best friends I have made and good connections with my professors. Since I have learned a lot, becoming a psychology major was one of the best choices I have ever made. As a psychology student, you will learn more about yourself and how to establish a deeper connection with the people around you. You really get a sense and begin to understand why people think or act a certain way and how to handle situations. Most importantly, I learned how to effectively manage and deal with stressors, which is crucial in times like this. At the beginning of my undergraduate time, I was extremely scared because some of the courses I took were very difficult and different from what I expected. The psychology professors made the transition much easier for me and were there to help me through any troubles I had. They were always very welcoming and encouraged students to come into their office hours for any questions. The best part about the psychology professors is that they truly want the best for you. I remember a specific time at the University when I didn't do too hot on one of my first exams. The professor in my class immediately emailed me to arrange a time to meet with him and review my exam. While reviewing my test, the professor made sure to go over each concept with me and re-explained the material to me in a different way so that I could actually understand it. This situation is very common among psychology professors because they actually care about and want their students to succeed.

The psychology curriculum also ensures that students are prepared for the real world. I remember taking a mandatory career development course in my junior year. This class helped me tremendously in preparing a practice resume, cover letter and engaging in mock interviews. This course teaches you what clothes to wear during interviews, the correct manners, questions to ask, etc. The resume I prepared for this class actually helped me get into several graduate schools and find a lot of jobs. Another course that really benefited me was the field experience class that I took my senior year. For this class, we got to participate in an internship near campus related to psychology. It felt like a real internship, because the professor gave us a series of options, and we as students had to call each placement to see if they would accept us. During the field experience class, we confidently discussed what went on at each of our placements and how to handle certain situations in the workforce. At the end, our supervisors at the placement would grade us based on our experience, which informed us on what we need to work on. These two classes are just some examples of my favorite classes at the University of Scranton.

In the end, my experience as a psychology major at the University of Scranton was challenging but very knowledgeable. The relationships I have established with my classmates and professors in psychology have allowed me to grow as a person. I am fully prepared to start the next steps in my life in the field of psychology. Some important advice I would give out to incoming psychology majors are: 1. Make sure to read the textbook, as most quizzes/ tests are based on information from the textbook along with class notes; 2. Make sure you try to attend every class, because missing one class may cause you to fall behind a lot; 3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because the professors are more than willing to set aside time to help you.

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(#6)
 

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on making a great choice for college! The University of Scranton is full of exciting experiences and challenges that will help you accomplish all that you wish in the next four years. This letter's purpose is to tell you about my experience in the department and the many experiences you have the opportunity to gain here. I also share some tips and advice about what I have learned through my four years at Scranton.

Through my collegiate career, I held multiple research positions, teaching assistantships, gained clinical experience, participated in several clubs and joined organizations. This department has an ample amount of opportunities, and I think it would be beneficial to share some more details on each of these positions/roles.

My first position for the department was a teaching assistantship. It was my Sophomore year after taking the class the semester before. This position could be compared to a student teacher or assistant teacher. You help the professor run the course smoothly. My tips for getting a teaching assistantship include performing well in the course and showing that you are genuinely interested in the topic, as well as being straightforward with the professor about wanting a TA position! You will learn about the process of asking for a TA/RA position much more your Junior year, but asking a professor if they are looking for TAs is a definite way to get that process going.

My second position for the department was a research assistantship. This happened the summer before my third year, in a program that was designed for a few psychology majors to conduct research. This was one of four research experiences I gained through my major. There are so many research positions in the department, and I suggest trying to get into a lab as early on as possible! One regret I definitely have is waiting until more than halfway through my collegiate career to start research. COVID-19 definitely did not help, as I was not able to complete projects I really wanted to, but I'm hoping you do not run into this problem.

There are also opportunities for leadership in societies and clubs. For example, through just the psychology department, I was a part of Psych Club, Psi Chi, and Pi Gamma Mu. I held a leadership position in Psi Chi. Clubs and organizations offer more than learning and experience, but a way to get to know your peers and participate/volunteer in events. I highly recommend finding a few clubs and organizations that interest you and taking part in them!

Just this past year I gained clinical experience despite the pandemic. I think that goes to show how much the department wants us as students to succeed amidst any obstacles. The process of gaining field experience as an undergraduate is not the easiest task, but the department has a class that sets you up in a position and helps you begin your journey in clinical work.

Here is my main advice - get to know your professors. Even if it is simply introducing yourself at the end of one of your first classes, these people have the opportunity to give you opportunities. These same professors hold the key to positions for assistantships in research and teaching. Not only do they give you positions, but they genuinely care about your success. There are some seriously awesome individuals in this department - take advantage of their knowledge and experience!

In the same way, get to know your peers. I have met people through classes that I love seeing around campus and studying with. The psychology major is malleable in the way that it can either be just work from classes, or you can tum into an amazing experience where you have opportunities to boost your knowledge and gain meaningful relationships. I suggest the latter, as I am lucky to have such a hard to time saying goodbye to Scranton because it has treated me so well.

I am so excited for you to embark on this exciting journey! More than anything, I am jealous! Take advantage of the next four years here at the University of Scranton. The people here want you to succeed, so if you put the work into your classes, people will support you and present you with all that you need. My last bit of advice is take classes/electives that are beneficial to you, and not just an easy A. I am glad I took an extra math-based psychology course rather than an easy elective, because now I do not have to take a summer course for my graduate program like many of my soon to be peers! Have a blast at Scranton, you are going to love it here ( :

Sincerely,

Graduated Psychology Major

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

My biggest piece of advice to incoming sh1dents is to utilize your professors. I know it is scary to approach professors but they were once in our shoes. Build relationships with as many professors as you can, the faculty in the psychology department are extremely knowledgeable and are eager to help. These are the people who are going to be writing your letters of recommendation, whom you are going to be TAing for, and conducting research with. One of my biggest regrets is not reaching out to my professors sooner.

Don't wait. Everyone tells you these four years will fly by, and they really do. I came in as a freshman and thought 'I have so much time to do research and all that, I don't need to think about that now'. Before you know it you too will be a graduating senior. You don't want to look back and wish you had done more. Start putting your foot in the door by joining a few clubs, especially the psychology club.

The psychology major allows for freedom. You have the ability to take free credits both inside and outside of psychology. Utilize these credits, don't just take a class because you heard it was an easy A. Use these electives to explore your interests, try a class from a different major. The courses I've taken have shown me potential interests for my career path as well as shown me there are some things I am definitely not interesting in.

It is okay to change your mind. You are young and college is a time to explore and find out more about who you are. I know it feels like the world, the university, and your parents expect you to have everything figured it, but it is okay if you don't. Your interests are going to change throughout your time spent at the university, that is normal. Don't narrow your focus too much on a particular specialization or subject. The more classes you take in the department the more you will be exposed to various specializations, theories, and career paths. You make think you want to enter a specific field of psychology, however one class you take senior year may change that. Don't limit yourself when taking classes.

While academics is the reason you are at college. Don't let it over take your lives. I know so many people who spent every free second they had studying and being a member of every club, hyper focusing on getting an A in every class. If you are that person, that's okay. Just know in the long run one A-, B, or even a B- is not going to kill you. I have friends that struggled in the beginning of college and have a few C's. These friends are still graduating with me in a few weeks. Getting good grades and succeeded in your classes is important, but so is taking care of yourself. Don't stress too much over a single assignment, project, or test.

College is a stressful time for everyone. Sometimes as a psychology student you may think that you know more about mental health and how to deal with stressors. Regardless, at some point in your college career you will most likely feel overwhelmed. Take advantage of the resources the University has to offer. The counseling center is free and provides services to more students than you think. Take a trip to CTLE if you are struggling in classes. Reach out to your professors they want to see you succeed. Don't be afraid to make connections and reach out to upperclassmen. Often upperclassmen will TA for classes you will be taking. We were in your shoes and would love to help and answer any questions.

Everyone's experience in college is different. Just because someone is doing more research than you doesn't mean you aren't doing enough. Just because someone looks like they are going out every night doesn't mean you are missing out on anything. As long as you are taking advantage of opportunities academically, there is nothing wrong with spending time with your friends enjoying yourself. College is a place like no other, it really is what you make of it. Enjoy yourself and have a good time, but remember you are paying for an education and classes.

Take advantage of every minute you have in Scranton, before you know it your time will be coming to an end and you will be writing these letters. Go to those silly events that your RA's and the university put on, you may meet some of your best friends there. Explore the city, Scranton has more to offer than you think. Utilize your psychology department and faculty. The University creates well rounded students, you will be more prepared than you think you are.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

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The idea of writing a letter to an incoming undergraduate student seemed like a blast at first, but now I worry that I'm about to stress you out with what I have to say. Hopefully you'll read my advice and think "I already do all of this already!" Even if you don't, I'm sure you'll be just fine. College is a journey for sure. I got every dollar that I paid for and more in both academic and social experiences, even during a pandemic. I am excited to know that you might be starting college during a year where things go somewhat back to "normal."

We have been specifically prohibited from telling you to avoid taking any specific professors (well played, Dr. Karpiak), so I cannot emphasize enough how crucial the use of the "rate my professor" website will be in helping your transcript-building go smoothly. This website offers more than just knowing which professor will give the least quizzes. This could help you pick out professors that are passionate about the class that they're teaching and avoid the ones who are obviously only teaching for the paycheck. I'm sure you know by now that it's easier to listen when the speaker is engaging and interested in the subject they're teaching. It can be useful in helping you find a balance between your more rigorous classes and your more laid­ back ones during your schedule building. Speaking of schedule building, your advisor should really be your right-hand (wo)man. Take it from me, because my advisor and I barely spoke or met, and it made me sort of become my own advisor. Dr. Norcross, the chairperson, encouraged us to all seek advising from whoever we thought could help in the department, not just our assigned advisors. Don't hesitate to go to someone other than your professor for advice!

I did not realize this until it was too late, but you need to take initiative when trying to secure a TA or RA position. This school (and department) is seriously SMALL, which means that positions like these are competitive and will get offered to somebody else if you don't make your move. If you have a good grade in a class like an A- or an A and can see yourself being a TA, ask as soon as the semester is ending, but don't wait until the next semester to inquire! Also, research is fun and great for your CV or resume, so join the Psychology Club and be sure to attend the meeting that highlights all the research that the professors here are up to! Lots of research got postponed by the pandemic, so you can hopefully look forward to more opportunities than we did this year! Start going for all of this stuff after freshman year if you are feeling ready, don't let those juniors and seniors intimidate you! The Psychology Club is great as well because it unites a relatively small group of students that are normally scattered all over campus. Hmmm what else... take Abnormal Psychology early if you can, because it's a prerequisite for a lot of other classes that you may want to take.

Alright, I think that's enough of the academic advise. I'd like to offer some more personal advice. Firstly, do not overwork yourself, whether it's at school or at work. This was one of my greatest mistakes while going to school here, and it screwed up both my social life and GPA. I was spending more time at work than anywhere else, and that's not a way to go through college. Remember to prioritize school, it's the reason you're here. Also, remember to not neglect your social relationships with your friends at school because their social support will provide well-needed relief during challenging moments along your journey. College friendships are formed fast and many of them end, but many of them will last a lifetime. For the love of everything that is good in the world, do not date someone in your major. It is simply too small of a major to do this, trust me. I would also suggest trying to schedule out your days to maximize your productivity, because not having your parents around will make it easy to abandon any structure. At the same time, schedule in a day every week where you have a loose or even no schedule, to not overwhelm yourself. Other than that, try to be careful downtown and in the hill section (especially at night) and schedule a time to call your parents every week. I leave you with one last piece of advice, first-year. Don't do it every night, but you might benefit from thinking of at least 3 things from your day to be grateful for before bed occasionally. I learned about this exercise from my Positive Psychology class, and it helped me see the importance of focusing on the things I had to be grateful for. That's all I got, first-year, this was fun. Good luck!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on picking The University of Scranton. It truly is an amazing place that you will miss tremendously when your four years are over. I remember my freshmen year sitting in my Intro to Psych class, reading a letter similar to this one. I was naive to think the information in those letters was unimportant. I came to realize, the love for Scranton and this department expressed in those letters, was present in my experience. As someone who was a student-athlete, I had a unique experience from others. However, it did not negatively impact my experience in any way. I really did enjoy my time being a member of Scranton Psych; I learned plenty of valuable lessons in and out of the classroom.

One of those lessons was, get to know your professors and advisor; they really are there to help guide you. I know it sounds cliche, but one of the great things about Scranton is the small class sizes. It allows for you and your professors to get to know each other, which helps them guide you better through these four years. This will come in handy when you have to ask for recommendation letters your senior year. Many of the professors in this department are so welcoming and are eager to help. Some of the classes will challenge you to think in different ways, but by the end of it, you will be proud of yourself. I do not be afraid to ask for help, professors office hours are vital if you are confused. Also, emails are a vital tool, use it, and check it; treat it as your new favorite social media feed. When it comes time to choose your Psych electives, there are so many great options to take. It is important to pick your classes based on your interests. Do not let others' views on professors sway your choices too much. In the end, you may find you like a professor one of your friends does not. Trust yourself because, for the next four years, it is all about figuring out your future.

This brings me to the next lesson I learned, make friends with people in your major. Study groups were a big part of my time here at Scranton.  You will spend a lot of time with other Psych majors in your grade, so try to form a group you can study with.  These groups can be vital when taking certain classes, like stats and research methods. They can help explain information to you and make homework more bearable. I made some of my best friends from being a Psych major. College can be a scary place but the people you meet can help you create great memories along the way. It is really important to get involved on campus, not just in the Psych department. Join many different clubs, of course, join Psych Club, they can really have an impact on your experience. Make sure you show up to class, read the textbook, and put in the work. College is not like high school, there are many classes where you will have to do most of the learning outside of the classroom. This can be stressful but eventually, you will learn how to balance school and social life.

Finally, enjoy every minute of your time here at Scranton. It feels like just the other day I was in your shoes, stressing about college life in general.  Do not stress about finding your classes, you will get to learn where everything is pretty quickly. The best advice you will receive is to memorize your Royal number fast; you use it for everything. Try to remember to have fun and do not stress too much; everyone is going through the same experience, so lean on each other for support. There are plenty of activities that happen on campus, attend them, even if it is mostly to get the free t-shirt.  During your four years at Scranton, I challenge you to become a "yes" person. Say yes to everything you possibly can do; college is all about having new experiences and forming your path in the world, so try new things. Try to be outgoing whenever you can; at times I struggled with this but every time I tried, I never regretted it. The most important thing is to have fun, study hard, and form new relationships with students and faculty. Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy the ride before you enter the real world. Four years seems like a long time, but I promise it goes by fast. Soon you will be in my shoes, writing a letter to incoming Psychology majors. Take it from someone how has experienced four years at Scranton and loved every minute of it; do not take it for granted, this truly is a special place.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

First off, congratulations on committing to Scranton and choosing the psychology program to study! I am writing to you as a senior, graduating in a few weeks and I have been very emotional as I reflect on my time at school here. I have loved all the time and experiences that I have had during college, so I hope the same for you. I did not come into school as a psychology major, I added it later as a second major (my first is entrepreneurship), so I was never exactly where you are today, but I did complete the major and have had all the experiences with being a psychology major, so I do have some things to say. I can say, hands down, that adding a psychology major has been one of the best decisions I have ever made because I learned just how interested I was in psychology when I started taking the additional courses in the major beyond just intro. I did have some interest before, but my love for learning about psychology grew significantly. I would not change adding a second major in psychology for anything.

As for the psychology classes, something that I have noticed often is that everyone will tell you something different about every course you take. I have had some people tell me that a certain class was extremely hard, and I found it easy, and the opposite has been true too. I hope you can just experience it for yourself and not have other opinions influence you, especially when it comes to the classes you take. Everyone has different interests and areas that they are better at, so it is all really subjective.

I would say by biggest regret with my experience with the psychology program at Scranton is not being as involved. The main aspect that I wish I could have been more involved with is research and being in a lab. I was not aware about all the opportunities there are to do research until all of my friends in the program started to get involve and then I felt like it was too late. In hindsight, it was probably not too late, but that is how I thought about it. I wish I could have been more involved with research so that I could gain skills and increase my knowledge. I also believe that I did not know which areas of psychology really interested me, so I did not know in which areas I would want to research. My advice for this would be, if it is a goal of yours to do research and study psychology in a more involved way, just know that there are plenty of opportunities to do so. You can ask around to different professors and I am sure they would be more than happy to tell you what they research and how to be involved in their lab. All the professors are friendly and approachable so do not be afraid to ask them. If it is not a goal of yours to do this, that is okay too, but just keep it in mind.

With being a double major, I focused more of my energy identifying with and getting involved with opportunities in the business school. For instance, when it came time for me to find an internship, I looked at places that my business degree would apply, and I did not focus on gaining experience in the psychology field. I do not regret this because I have gained so much through my experiences, but I wish I did look a little more into psychology experiences that I could have done. Additionally, with this, I am upset that I could not take as many psychology classes as I would have wanted. This is simply because I did not have room for any free electives with the number of courses I had to take for my major requirements. I wish I could have because some of the psychology elective classes here sound extremely interesting.

My favorite opportunity that I had with studying psychology was a one-on-one class that I had looking at the different contexts that affect a person's psychology and psychological disorders. This opportunity arose when I was in the honors program at the university from my sophomore year until the end of my junior year. I could no longer continue with the program as I realized that it would not make sense for me to continue with how many credits I had to take.

However, one of the components of the honors program is completing three tutorials, which are personalized classes that you take with a professor of your choosing, on an area of your interest, that you work with the professor to create. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity because the class was tailored to me and my interests. It definitely was not the easiest class that I have taken, but I can say with full confidence that my writing skills and ability to read and understand research studies improved tremendously. I am grateful that I was able to improve these skills and doing so while learning about something that I was curious about. Maybe this is something that you would be interested in as well, so you can keep this in mind as you are starting your journey off at Scranton.

Lastly, I have been upset lately with the thought of leaving Scranton because I have been so happy here for the past 4 years. My last piece of advice is to simply cherish all the moments you have, take advantage of all the opportunities you can, and have an amazing four years!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I would like to start off this letter by saying congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Scranton and for choosing Psychology as your major! It is okay to feel scared or nervous about these next four years of your life, however as a graduating senior I am here to tell you that this new journey will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Nothing in the world worth having comes easy, therefore you will have moments in which you will struggle and be challenged. These moments will teach you to work hard and will be rewarding, as these feelings will provide you with personal growth.

The first piece of advice I can offer you is that psychology is an excellent major that offers limitless opportunities. It gives you a deeper understanding about why humans behave the way they do. Expect to gain a stronger grasp of research methods and statistics and if research interests you, there are opportunities in participating in research with our fellow faculty and staff! You will learn and understand how humans develop, from childhood to old age. You will also learn about mental disorders and will become more understanding of them. You will learn how to communicate better, whether it would be public speaking or how to communicate your ideas in paper. You will also learn that psychology is interconnected with various disciplines, such as philosophy, biology, nursing, criminology, etc.

Personally, I began my journey as a Biology major and after countless stressful and soul-searching, I majored in Psychology and minored in Biology in hopes to become an Occupational Therapist. I encourage you to broaden your horizons and take different courses outside your major to enhance your knowledge and ideas in various disciplines. The university offers numerous classes, therefore it is important to step out of your comfort zone and to learn new ways of thinking by adding a minor or concentration in a different area of study. You might find that you are interested in other disciplines and can see how they relate to psychology, which is what I did with Biology as my minor.

The second piece of advice I can offer is to consider getting involved in the community, clubs, or service trips. The University provides us with outstanding education and academics, however it also teaches us how to be men and women for others. With that said, I highly recommend dedicating your time to help others, advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, try to make a difference even if it is big or small. This will not only allow you to connect with others, but it will also teach you to become more culturally aware and challenge your attitudes, beliefs, and abilities. I have found that being involved or participating in extra-curricular activities is also beneficial because it allows you to share your experience, successes and failures that you will not be able to receive in a formal classroom setting.

I was encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and apply to a service trip through the International Service Program at the University my sophomore year of college. To this day, I considered this experience the most memorable and rewarding, as it helped me realize that I had an interest in learning about the behaviors and minds of people, which is at the time where I switched my major to Psychology. This opportunity also opened doors for me to also view my faith in a different way than I have ever seen. The short ten days you spent in San Lucas, Guatemala brought me closer to God. Many people might not be able to see happiness in a place of difficulty, including me, prior to me trip. I saw how the people of San Lucas did not give up on hope. I always remember the people of San Lucas, who I am eternally grateful of having the pleasure of knowing and being those who have opened my eyes to faith.

The last piece of advice that I can offer you is to make the most of these four years. As a graduating senior of the class of 2020, my last semester of senior year was cut short due to a global pandemic. Before entering college, everyone always says that the four years fly by. Sadly, this is true but you will not realize this until your last year in Scranton because you will be too busy enjoying it. One day you are 17 years old planning for someday, and then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. That day that you reminisce on everything you have achieved and how you got to where you are. College is more than just school; it is far beyond the piece of paper you get at the end. College molds you into the best version of yourself; do not take this experience for granted! Take advantage of every opportunity, keep an open mind, ask questions, make connections, and most importantly, have fun.

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Dear University of Scranton Freshmen,

Congratulations to all of you, you’re in college now! These four years are going to be the most exciting, stressful, and amazing years of your life. They are going to be filled with friendship, adventure, risk, and so much more. I remember my freshmen year of college like it was yesterday. I genuinely remember every fear and emotion that I felt as I had my first day as a college freshman at the University of Scranton. Nothing compares to the anticipation of starting your first year of college. It’s an amazing feeling be a freshman in college but the problem is that you probably won’t realize this until it’s too late. There is so much advice that I wish someone was able to give me when I was a freshman, and I am going to give you all of it.

First, you are going to be presented with so many opportunities during these four years. Make sure you take advantage of every single opportunity that you are presented with. Next, the simplest advice I can give you: GO TO ALL YOUR CLASSES! Attending all of your classes will increase your contact and communication with so many amazing faculty members, which can also help you discover mentors and role models that can help guide your academic, career, and personal development. Also, do not be afraid to ask your professors any questions when you have them, they are getting paid to teach you. My next piece of advice that I wish I was able to give myself is to get as much sleep as you can. Do not stay up all night studying for an exam, the health outcomes of little sleep are not worth it, trust me. Also, it is so important to control your financial spending’s. I learned this the hard way. I spent all my hard earned money so fast during my first semester of freshmen year and I had absolutely no money to spend during my second semester. Another very important piece of advice I have for you is to create connections and make as many friends as you can. You are going to meet so many people during these four years. You never know who you are going to meet. Some of these people will end up being your forever friends or one of them can even end up being your soulmate, but you will never know unless you put yourself out there. Also, as important as academics and studying will be during these years, make sure to have the best time. You will never have this kind of freedom again. Make the best out of your freshman year (it was my favorite year and probably will be yours too). There will be plenty of events happening around the campus, attend as many of them as you can. My last and most important piece of advice that I want to give you is: make sure you choose a major that is right for you. It’s okay if you end up changing your major multiple times throughout these four years, and you probably will. Just make sure that you end up choosing a major that suits you and your future career path. Pick a major that you are passionate about. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” -Confucius

College is something that not everyone has the opportunity of having and it gets taken for granted way too often. Your freshman year sets the basis for your entire college experience. What you choose to do today, will shape you into the student you’ll be in four years from now. These next four years of your life are what you make of it, enjoy them as much as you can. Four years may sound like a long time, but trust me and everyone else when they say “it flies by,” or “it goes by in a blink of an eye,” because it truly does. Now is the time to do the things you want to do for you, be as selfish as you want. So, if you want to get involved in something then do it right now. Your time in college is sadly not endless. Study a lot. Find your group of best friends. Network and connect with your professors and all the other amazing Scranton faculty. Attend all of the sports events. Become the person you have always known you can be. Take all the pictures of Scranton’s beautiful campus as you can and keep your eyes on the prize. Realistically, the friends you make today may or may not last. A friend who you liked a lot could end up transferring. Nothing is guaranteed or set in stone. But getting as involved in this campus as possible, will never be something you regret. All you will regret is if you don’t give it your all. So shine brightly and blind everyone on your path.

Sincerely,

A very jealous senior

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Dear Incoming Psych Majors,

            Congrats on your acceptance to the University of Scranton and welcome to an amazing 4 years. The University of Scranton is a wonderful place full of opportunities, clubs, majors, and the introduction to an amazing faculty. Your experience at Scranton will be like no other because of how small and close the campus is and how you’re able to connect with others through so many different clubs, fairs, and other amazing opportunities the school offers. During my time at the U, I developed great friendships and developed amazing relationships with some of my professors, which in my opinion is the best thing you could do in any aspect of life, create strong relationships with your boss, teachers, etc.. people who will guide you. However, In any department you will come across snobby professors, and if you do, transfer out of the class if possible, because you will not learn. Make sure your advisor is generous and knowledgeable about which class to take because my freshman year I was told to go home since I did not know the process of how to register and that same advisor messed up my credits by making me take the same level courses twice. Furthermore, MAKE SURE they don’t make you take the same level course twice because you will only get credits for the first class you take. Some regrets I have is not getting involved more in the psychology club and the school in general, not fulling my major, and making more relationships with more teachers. I wish I made more connections with other professors outside the psychology department.

            Some of the more interesting classes to take would be abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, and I/O psychology. However, when taking these classes be mindful of the professors you choose because some will hinder the way you enjoy the class. In addition, the class I got the most out of were public speaking and discussion-based classes. I felt that the professors in those classes did an amazing job of engaging the students and making the information fun to learn. Furthermore, make time for study aboard. No matter what happens, if you have the opportunity to study abroad, DO IT. You will not regret it and it will be the best 1 or 4 months of your entire life. You will meet the greatest people in the world, and it will give you a different perspective on life and even yourself. Take advantage of the cultural aspect college has to offer.

            Finally, Thank you Scranton for an amazing 4 years. In these 4 years I’ve learned a lot about myself and learned new virtues and aspects about life. I’ve met some of the greatest people and developed amazing relationships with students and professors. Although, my last semester got cut in half, Senior year was still amazing, and I wouldn’t have trade it in for any other school. Thank you, Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome to the University of Scranton! I hope you are so excited to be here.  I know I am so excited for you.  Scranton gave me the best four years and a huge part of that was because of the Psychology department.  This department is full of the most dedicated professors and some of the smartest people I have ever met.  Each class is going to challenge you in a different way, and you are going to be shocked by how much you actually know by the end of it.  There is an abundance of classes that cover so many different aspects of psychology.  This department really helps you figure out what you would like to do in the field.  One of my favorite classes was the career seminar you are going to take your junior year.  It was there I saw for the first time how much I could do with my degree and really figured out my next steps.  I do have some advice for you as you begin your first classes.  I also found a lot of value in the classes that explained the theories behind psychology and how far the subject has come since its inception.  The best example of this for me was Clinical Psychology.  Learning how everything I had learned had a practical everyday use was a highlight in my education.  Another noteworthy experience the Psychology department gave to me was the field experience class.  For a full semester, I got to intern at an outpatient addiction treatment center and also go to class and speak with other students who were interning throughout Scranton.  This was such a fulfilling time for me, and it really solidified my goals and aspirations for my future career. 

Throw yourself into everything that seems interesting.  Find your passions, whether they be a club or a specific subject.  Talk to the people who sit next to you in class.  Get involved and make the most out of this place.  Don’t waste time doubting yourself or your abilities.  No one expects you to know everything when you walk in the door, only that you are willing to put in the work to learn those things.  If you have made it this far, you are smart enough to be in this classroom.  So, take pride in your work and put in the effort and you will do just fine. Also, take the time to have fun and find a self-care routine that works for you.  Taking care of yourself is vital to your success as a student.  Taking time for yourself is not a waste of time and neither is sleeping.  Both are absolutely necessary, and I promise you, your best work will not happen at 4 am.  It is better to just go to bed and try again in the morning. 

Another thing I encourage you to do is ask for help when you need it.  This school has so many resources for you to use and your professors want to see you succeed. You do not need to shoulder everything by yourself.  Help is readily available if you look for it.  Good luck!  I believe in you!  Welcome to your new home!

Welcome!!!!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congrats on making it to the University of Scranton and get ready for some of the best years of your lives, but fair warning they go quickly, trust me. One thing I wish I would go back tell myself as a first year student would be to continuously reach out and make connections with other people. Don’t be afraid of what other people are going to think of you because chances are they feel the same way on the inside. You are going to make a lot of friends, some you will have for the rest of your life, and others you will have for only a short amount of time. Although some friends come and go they will teach you a lot about yourself and help you grow. I had a couple fallings outs with some friends I thought I was going to have forever, but do not dwell on it, surround yourselves with those who care for you. The first person I met at my freshman orientation is to this day still my best friend in the world.

            Get involved in different experiences and activities, try something new, go outside your comfort zone. There are a lot of different clubs available to you. Go to the club fairs and take a look around you may find something that you did not know you would be interested in or know even existed. There are also a lot of events that are put on by the school that are a lot of fun to attend, something to do, and someplace to meet new people such as march madness, rooftop carnival, springfest. I did not come to college to play a sport, but my sophomore year I decided to walk onto a sports team, and found a group of people that were like a second family to me. My team is made up of people that are very difference and that otherwise probably would never have met or talked to each other, but now I could not picture my life or my college experience without them.

            The psychology department is one that is very special in the university (and I’m not just saying that because I was a psychology major). These professors truly do care about you and they want to help you grow and succeed not only academically, but also in life. I was a double major at the University, and my other major was great with a lot of great professors don’t get me wrong, but these psychology professors really go the extra mile for you. Give each professors a chance, you will hear mixed reviews about them, but go into each class with a new professor with an open mind and not someone else’s opinion, it may surprise you that that professor could be one of your favorites. If you need help with school, something personal, or just need someone to talk to you can find that in many of these professors, they learn your names and want to get to know you.

            When deciding what professors to take for which courses, do not just look for the easiest professor to get that easy A. I know that the thought of getting that easy A is nice, but look for the professor that is going to actually teach you something. Getting a B while actually learning things is better than getting an A while learning absolutely nothing. I took a class that was considered “the hardest class ever” with the “toughest professor ever”, and although his class was more work than most, I also learned the most in that class and it has been one of my favorite courses I have ever taken at the university. Look into taking courses that interest you outside of your psychology courses and required courses. I took American Sign Language, and got to the point where I was able to get certified in ASL. Sign language is definitely a class that I strongly recommend taking, it was the course I treasured the most, I learned a lot about the deaf culture, we got to volunteer with the deaf school, and am not able to communicate with those who I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. If you have always wanted to learn a language or a skill you’re not too old and it is not too late, give it a shot.

            The number one thing I will recommend to you to definitely consider is studying abroad. It was the most amazing experience of my life and one that I will cherish forever. I got to experience another culture and live in Florence, Italy for a semester while traveling to countries all around Europe. Abroad I got to study subjects that weren’t offered at the university like photography. I know that most of my friends admitted that their biggest regret in college was not being able to study abroad. Many people think that because of their major they cannot study abroad because the credits will not work out or they did not come into college with enough credits, but that is just not true. I came in with only 3 credits and I was a double major in the honors program, I was able to work with professors from both majors and the directors of the honors programs and they all worked with me to allow me schedule to allow me study abroad for a semester while still graduating on time. If you think that you cannot go for a whole semester or do not want to, then definitely look into going during the summer or intercession for shorter study abroad lengths. Studying abroad definitely helped me grow and learn who I am, as cheesy as that sounds.

            These next four years you are going to learn a lot, make a lot of memories, and make a lot of friends, do not take any of it for granted. Live in the moment, not on social media. Cherish your time and your friends, it goes quickly, but here is to the next four years. Good luck and I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Recently Graduated Psychology Student

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Dear Incoming Psychology Students,

First of all, welcome!!! You may not know it yet, but you just entered a very special place. A place that you will call home for the next four years, a place where you will experience all the ups and downs of life, hopefully cherishing the good times and learning from the bad. You have made many decisions in the past months that have brought you here. The one that yielded the receival of this letter being your decision to declare yourself a Psychology major. I may be biased, but I think that this is one of the best decisions you could have made. Through the Psych Department at the University of Scranton, you will learn a lot, foster meaningful relationships, and gain important experiences in what will feel like the shortest four years of your life.

The first piece of advice that I would like to tell you is to try your best to know and plan for your future early. One of the reasons I chose to pursue my degree in Psychology was because of the freedom that it gives you to do a wide variety of things after graduation. You can go to graduate school or right to work, and you can do so in almost any field. So if you are like me, and you are sitting there right now with no idea what you want your life to look like in four years, think about it. Take classes outside of the Psych Department. Join clubs that genuinely interest you. Talk to professors about your options. Your interests and future plans will almost definitely change before graduation, but the more proactive you are to these changes the more time you have to properly prepare for the future. This preparation includes declaring minors, doing research, and engaging in leadership roles on campus. My entire life plan changed about halfway through my sophomore year. It was important to me to be able to be proactive to ensure that I could still complete my degree on time while taking the steps necessary to pursue my dream career after graduation.

The second piece of advice I have is to foster relationships both within the psychology department and in the University as a whole. We are so blessed to have the faculty that we do in this department. The professors care about us, not only as students, but also as people. Take advantage of their office hours. These are set up for your benefit, you can use this time to introduce yourself to professors you have in class for the first time. They will take notice of this extra step. This may seem daunting at first, but try to remember that they are also just people, and that they have been in your position before, they understand what you are feeling and want to help you acclimate to your new environment. These relationships will also benefit you in the long run. If you are active in building relationships with professors, they will be more likely to remember you when they are looking for teaching and research assistants.

Professors are not the only people you should be actively fostering relationships with. It is also important to make friends with other psychology majors. People in your classes can be great resources for you if you are struggling with any course material, if you miss a class, or if you are having trouble understanding an assignment. The Psychology Department at the University of Scranton is relatively small, so there is a good chance that you will have many classes with the same group of people for all four years. Having a good relationship with these students will improve your experience and make these classes enjoyable. The friends I have made in my psych classes are not my main group of friends, but they are some of the nicest, most caring people I have ever met, and I truly do not think I could have completed four years as a psychology major without them. Not only should you foster relationship with other students in your year, but you should make an effort to get to know upperclassmen. An easy way to do this is by joining the Psych Club. This is a student run club with the purpose of gathering as a department to socialize and learn. The students in charge of this club are friendly and full of information about the Psychology Department. Knowing them, I am sure that they would love to get to know you and assist you in any way they can.

Finally, make sure that you enjoy this time. You will get out of these four years what you put into them. Only you have the power to make this time great.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Before discussing psychology as a major, I would like to congratulate you on becoming a University of Scranton student.  In an alternate world where COVID-19 never happened, I would probably insert here some advice about the importance of embracing these few, short years; though that sentiment would not have been disingenuous, I now promote it emphatically with a new vigor.  The unique community of Scranton is something you should cherish every day.  I urge you to admire those beautiful rolling hills and appreciate the tunnel off the expressway with the “Electric City” mural and AMH right above it.  It seems so corny or maybe even trivial, but these are examples of the little things that you will miss when your time here is over.  You will have plenty of photos with your friends at a kegger on Clay, but the sunsets over Loyola Science Center are what you will miss most when you leave here.  Please do not take a single moment for granted because the cliché is true: college years fly by.  But it is also true that life can be turned upside down at any moment. My 3.75 years at the University of Scranton, though cut short, have been the best years of my life.

In high school, I thought I wanted to be a mental health therapist and was drawn to the Counseling and Human Services table at an open house.  They quickly insisted that my passion for helping people would make this the perfect major for me.  According to its advertised reputation, this was the major for people who wanted to help people.  Though my plan was to major in psychology at any college, I decided to enter as a CHS major because it seemed like a psychology program with a clinical track; as I later found out, this was wildly far from the truth.  Since I have been a major in both programs, it is important that I emphasize the differences between the counseling and human services program and the psychology program.

The main difference is in the content of the courses.  CHS classes lacked much concrete subject matter and focused heavily on discussion rather than on learning new concepts.  I learned very little and yet received an A in my first two courses freshman year (including a three-hundred level course).  For many students, this is the perfect situation; without having to study loads of empirical content, the program focuses instead on developing the skills of a counselor.  It is effective in sculpting a culturally-competent, empathic listener, however the style was not academically rigorous enough for me to have gone with the full degree. Since I wanted a heftier challenge, I switched my major to psychology and still completed my human services minor.

Now that I have chosen psychology instead, I can say with emphatic certainty that the scope of knowledge that you will acquire with your psychology degree exceeds the other program’s standards definitively while still being a degree for people who want to help.  In my opinion, (which is surely shared by many others) a vast knowledge of psychological principles should be necessary to practice clinical mental health.  The CHS major only requires nine credits of psychology courses, specifically: intro, childhood, and adulthood.  Abnormal is not included in the curriculum and there no psych area elective requirements.  It is not nearly as research-based and rooted in science as psychology is.  It is not my intent to slander the department, but instead to point out the differences in curriculum that some may be confused on.  Counseling may be known for helping people, but psychology can do the same.  I wish I had enough information at the start, otherwise I would have begun as a psychology major.  Different departments have different styles of classes; though the counseling and psychology departments are similar in theme, the programs are very different and fit for different learners. 

If you are not sure exactly which program you should be in, that is okay!  I did not fully make the switch until the middle of sophomore year.  This was early enough to complete the psychology statistics and research methods sequence on time and I was luckily able to complete the rest of the courses.  This switch took a lot of work, though, which I had anticipated.  It was worth it.  With this degree, you will gain a large span of knowledge and skills that employers and graduate schools find attractive.  You will learn a lot (and I stress this: a lot) of information and be tested on it stringently.  A psychology degree is broad enough that you can essentially choose any field, whether that be counseling, social work, psychology itself, or even business or law.  It gives you the foundation to enter into a range of careers and paths.  With the core 8 aspect of the curriculum, you are given a choice between two classes of equal value, which are configured to include courses that cover social-developmental processes, individual processes, physiological processes, and learning processes. With this freedom, you can direct your courses in a way that is relevant to you or what piques your interest.

Psychology is not easy, but neither is college.  However, college is awesome.  And honestly, psychology is pretty awesome, too.  But nothing is more awesome than your time here at the University of Scranton.  Cherish every second that you get… that’s not coming from a cliché, it’s coming from a very grateful, soon-to-be Scranton psychology alum who wishes very badly to be in your shoes.  Do something that you will be proud of in four years; it’s worth it! 

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Welcome to The University of Scranton. I am happy to say that you chose the best University to attend for psychology. As I am writing this to you now, I am wishing that I could be in your position. You are in for a great four years here at the U, and I am jealous. Scranton is my second home and I have heard many people say the same, but I truly believe it now and I hope it is the same for you. The psychology department is fantastic, everyone welcomes you with open arms and helps with whatever you need. There are so many things to do around here outside of school, downtown Scranton is just a walk away, the fields for recreational sports as well, and many other things. I highly recommend going to the Italian festival in the beginning of fall, joining clubs and intramural sports, and enjoying that unlimited meal plan you get as a freshman. Beginning my journey at Scranton feels like yesterday, I am going to give you some advice from my perspective and experiences of these past four years.

            The first thing I want to emphasize is to enjoy every single day that goes by. It never hit me how fast the time goes here, but I am not kidding when I say it flies (trust me). Enjoy learning all that psychology has to offer, there are so many opportunities and paths to take and to explore, and this is just the beginning. Enjoy the classes that you have as a freshman, the professors you have, the early morning classes you get. Everything that comes your way do your best to enjoy it because before you know it you’ll be right where I am writing a letter to the incoming freshman.

            Second, I want to tell you some things that I wish I knew as a freshman. The first thing would be that sometimes there is a lot of work, and procrastinating is natural, but staying on top of your work is something I wish I had done. You do not want work to pile up because it is always easier and better to just get it done than stress at the last minute. I wish I knew how much grades matter in the beginning of college. I have done well here at Scranton, but there is always room for improvement. As a freshman grades are so important because if you start off well there is room to drop and go up because you have those good grades behind you. I regret not doing as well as a freshman because I had to play “catch-up” with grades for my sophomore year and that adds stress. It is all about time management and staying on top of things. Keeping a planner is a great way to stay on top of everything because it could get confusing at times.

            Third, I would like to tell you how much Scranton has become a second home to me and that is what I want for you. Once you are here and keeping a routine with school, friends, and other aspects of life, you really begin to see what Scranton is all about, and all the good it has to offer. There is a saying here at Scranton “go and set the world on fire” when I was a freshman and I first heard that it did not really make sense to me. Once you are here and see the big picture that is a great thing to think about. Scranton definitely prepares you well for what is to come in the real world. Professors help you because classes are much smaller than at larger schools, and to me this is perfect, and I hope it will be for you. Each professor has office ours throughout the week that you can go see them, but if you want to schedule another time to meet, they are always more than happy to do so.

            Scranton is the best University in the country to me. There is always something to do and somewhere to go. People from all around come to the University of Scranton and it feels amazing to be part of such a great family here at Scranton. I am writing this letter to you from home during this COVID-19 pandemic and my college campus life was cut short. You never know what to expect in life, but I would much rather be at the University of Scranton than at home. That is what I hope you feel when you’re here. Stay on top of your classes, friends are all around for you to come by, Professors are the best here, and there is always something to do. If I could switch shoes with you I would, just to have another opportunity to go through life here at Scranton. This is my second home and that is what I want for you. “It is not where I breathe, but where I love, I live.”

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            I entered the University of Scranton as a transfer student after earning my associate’s degree at a community college. My first word of advice is to always apply for scholarships and look for other ways to help finance your education. There is free money out there, and I strongly urge you to apply for it. Another financial piece of advice is to pay the interest on your student loans as often as possible. Interest racks up quickly, and making small monthly payments on it makes a big difference in the end. Also, remember that keeping your GPA high will increase the amount of scholarships you may qualify for as well as increase your chances of being eligible for honor societies.

            During my college years I always maintained full-time employment. If you also plan on working during college, I highly recommend choosing a job as closely related to your future career goals as possible. Not only does this help to give you insight into what you do and do not enjoy about possible career options, it gives you an advantage over other graduating students. I say this because when it comes time to graduate, you will be able to show a resume to a potential employer that shows not only your college education, but your experiences in the field. This not only makes you stand out to employers, but it also shows that you are able to balance school and work which speaks to your dedication, time management skills, and a variety of other characteristics employers look for.  It also provides you with references from previous employers who can vouch for your work ethic and experience.

            There is one major drawback to working during college. It may mean you do not have time to participate in clubs, campus activities, internships, research opportunities, etc. For myself, there was no choice to be made, I simply had to work to support myself. If you do have the choice between working or focusing solely on your education, only you know what is best for you. I would suggest weighing the pros and cons of each with your future goals in mind. I would like to emphasize that your thinking should be future-focused. I would suggest choosing what will help you later in life as opposed to choosing what is convenient right now.

            With regard to information and guidance throughout college, your advisor will be one of your most valuable resources. I highly recommend getting to know them and expressing your interests and future goals so they can help you achieve whatever it is you set out to do. Trust me, they want to help you so please give them the chance to. I do not think I would have done nearly as well in completing all requirements towards my bachelor’s degree without my advisors help. Between choosing course schedules tailored to your interests, letters of recommendation, and advice for future college programs or careers, I cannot stress their importance enough.

            College is a great time to make friends and learn more about interests you may have outside of the classroom. Please take the time to explore this and get to know the people around you. If you feel nervous or shy, do not worry, many people do. One of my biggest regrets is that I did not reach out and try to make connections with my fellow classmates. I kept to myself and it took me until the last semester of my senior year to meet up with classmates outside of class. I wish I had done it sooner because the people I studied with this semester helped me understand a lot of concepts that I had a hard time grasping on my own. It also made me feel more a part of the University as I found myself interacting more and more with people on campus.

            Finally, if you are feeling stressed or unsure about your future career in psychology, no need to worry. Bachelor’s degrees in psychology are actually much more versatile and apply to more careers than you may think. The field of psychology is growing and expanding at a steady rate. If you are passionate and get as much out of your education as you can, you will be just fine. If you choose to continue your education, I would recommend choosing a graduate school in an area you plan on working in. I say this because in graduate school, you are building professional relationships with professors, classmates, and through internships. Any one of these relationships could become references or job opportunities. Clearly, you do not have to go to school in the area you plan to live in after college, I just think it helps open up more career opportunities.

            In conclusion, try to pay the interest on your loans, apply for scholarships, get to know your advisor, determine if working throughout college would help or hinder your future goals, and do not forget to make time for fun and friends. Above all else, be kind to yourself. College is difficult, but it can lead to so many great opportunities if you remain open-minded and make time to explore areas of interest. Remember to take care of yourself by eating healthy meals, exercising, and taking breaks from school work to spend time with friends and family. The next four years are going to go quickly. Do not forget to stop and appreciate how far you have come every now and then. I wish you all the best, and you can rest easy knowing you picked an excellent university to pursue a future career in psychology.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on choosing to attend The University of Scranton, and an even greater congratulations for choosing to major in psychology! During the next four years in the psychology program you will have many new experiences and will gain so much knowledge. Our psychology department is unique in that our professors create a collection of educators that are well versed in a variety of areas of psychology. There are so many opportunities to collaborate and learn from these professors. No matter what subject in psychology you are interested in, there is always a class and a professor who is there to help you further explore and learn about that subject.

Some of my favorite psychology classes were the electives that you get to choose. I liked that there were so many options and they were all so interesting to learn about. The electives were different than what you would expect when thinking about psychology. For example, during my junior year I took the course psychology of women. I really enjoyed this course and found it to be very different than any other psychology course I have taken. Other electives I took out of convenience and scheduling conflicts. These electives turned out to be some of the most valuable psychology classes I took. One of these classes was industrial organizational psychology. Originally I took this class due to scheduling conflicts with other courses that could not be moved, but throughout the class I realized how much I actually enjoyed this section of psychology. I found myself relating the content to not only other classes, but also to my future career path. I will never forget the information I learned during this class and will apply it to my job in the future.

The psychology department is always very future oriented. Having classes focusing on job and graduate school preparation was extremely helpful. A lot of times it is easy to feel overwhelmed about the future or to feel lost when trying to discover what the next step is for you after graduation. The career seminar required for all psychology majors during our junior year was very valuable and taught me a lot of skills for my future. It forced me to use the resources on campus such as the career center, that I was previously reluctant to use. During this class I received guidance from my professor and the career center on creating a resumé and on how to interview. This course also introduced me to new career paths for psychology majors that I didn’t know were possible. It was really interesting to compare my plans after completing my psychology major to the plans of my fellow psychology majors. I never realized how many possibilities there were post-graduation for psychology majors.

I encourage you to make the most of your amazing time in the psychology department by getting involved and establishing relationships with your faculty and peers. The professors have always been encouraging and helpful. They work hard to help you make the most of your education and to help you seize opportunities. Take any opportunities you have to complete research or have an internship as these provide you with unique opportunities that go beyond the traditional psychology classes. My advisor’s door was always open and she was always willing to help me in any way possible. Don’t try to get through this program on your own or be afraid to reach out, the faculty is here to help you make the most of your experience at Scranton. They provided me with valuable guidance and resources throughout all four years in the psychology department.

It is really important for you to get involved on campus, including getting involved in the psychology department. There are so many opportunities for you to make connections with the faculty and your fellow psychology majors. You can join the psychology club, which holds many meetings and events throughout the semester. These events allow you to meet people in the major and to learn more about what is happening in the psychology field currently. Another way for you to get more involved is to be inducted into the psychology honor society, Psi Chi. The honor society provides you with resources about psychology and is a great honor.

Choosing to major in psychology was one of the best decisions I made while at Scranton. I truly enjoyed my time here and will be sad to move on from the psychology department. I will always cherish the memories, experiences, and knowledge I have gained as a psychology major. Overall, the psychology department shaped my four years at Scranton and has prepared me for my future, just as it will do for you and your future after college. Enjoy your time at The University of Scranton!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on your decision to attend the University of Scranton for your studies in psychology!  I am writing this letter to offer you some guidance during these next four years, so that my learning experiences and regrets even, can be addressed to help you have the smoothest and most fulfilling experience possible.

I entered the University of Scranton in the fall of 2016 as a marketing major.  When I was deciding what to study, I was extremely interested in advertising and the business world.  Once I got through my first year however, I knew that it was not the right field for me.  I found the math to be extremely difficult, and I was losing more interest in it as each day passed.  When I began my Sophomore year, my friends were telling me about their experiences as a psychology major, and I was interested in potentially switching.  I regretfully did not switch to psychology until my second semester however, because I feared that I would not be able to graduate in time, or that I would be upsetting my parents.  Once I switched, I realized that both of those predictions were wrong, and that it truly was the right decision.

Switching majors at the university is not a long or difficult process, however it can be difficult to make such a decision based on your interests, prior experiences in your existing major, and time in which you make that decision.  When I started as a psychology major in the second semester of sophomore year, I immediately knew I made the right decision.  I was assigned an advisor who has been such a great mentor throughout my time studying psychology.  She was extremely attentive, easy to reach out to, and even gave advice based on her experiences.  Without her, I would not have considered picking up a counseling and human services minor, and I absolutely would not be graduating on time without her attentive guidance.  You will find that when you enter the University, and become familiar with the psychology professors, they are some of the most interesting and competent individuals you will ever meet.  Many professors in the psychology department have made extraordinary contributions to the field with their research and practice, so do not ever hesitate to get to know them on a more personal level.  In fact, I can only count on one hand when a professor did not know the answer to a question asked, and many of them even cite their own research in a subject that you are asking about. 

Along with the fantastic professors, the psychology department here at Scranton has an extremely tight-knit and community feel.  As you likely already know, the University does not have big lecture halls, with classes usually capping at 30-35 students.  As for the psych department, they are located in their own building with their own space to conduct research and have classes.  To my knowledge, this is one of the only departments in the school to have such a privilege.  The space allows for the majority of your psychology classes to take place in a facility where all resources are under one roof. 

One of my greatest regrets during my time here was that I did not get involved as much as I would have liked to.  There are so many opportunities for you to get involved in something at this school, and in psychology, there are plenty of opportunities to be research and teaching assistants for professors.  Both give you the opportunity to work alongside a professor for a semester, either assisting them with their research, or assisting them in teaching a course.  I, unfortunately, never took such opportunities and it is my single biggest regret here.  I encourage you to reach out to professors as early as you can, and take these opportunities.  You will not be able to become a teaching assistant until you have already completed, and done well in a course, however there are no limits in reaching out to assist in conducting research.  I also encourage you to join the psychology club, as you will get to know your peers and professors better this way to.  In psychology club, members have discussions about different aspects of the field; some of these discussions are a lot more interesting than some you would ever have in a class.  It will show you that psychology is truly a fascinating field, and that the members of Scranton’s psychology department are a group of fascinating and extremely friendly individuals. 

I am confident that you will have an even better experience than I did, as you are entering the major as an incoming first year student.  Always make it a priority to reach out to professors and peers, as it will never hurt you, and could present you fantastic opportunities in the future.

I wish you the best of luck during your time at the University of Scranton! Always take advantage of resources and never take a moment for granted, because these four years will be the quickest four years of your life, believe me.

Sincerely,

Class of 2020

Psychology Major, Human Services Minor

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Dear Incoming Psychology Student,

Wow, you finally made it to college! Congratulations! I know that things could be a little stressful right now because there are a lot of new things to adjust to. Something challenging could be finding your place in a new environment, or maybe this is your first time away from home. Also, learning new information at a college level is very different from academics in high school. All of these factors could be stressful, and I speak about this from first-hand experience because I was in your shoes four years ago. Getting to figure out all of these things while being a Psychology major is really exciting. This major has a lot of cool opportunities and I was able to engage in a lot of unique experiences, both academically and personally, during my time at the university.

First of all, you will become pretty well acquainted with most of the faculty in the department, especially with your advisor which is really helpful. Not only is the faculty friendly, but they are really helpful to go to for any advice because they want to see you succeed. During my time at the university, I was able to study abroad for the spring semester of my junior year in Australia. At first glance through Instagram pictures, the whole journey may look very fun to an outsider. However, the amount of paperwork that I had to fill out was immense. I became very friendly with many faculty members of the department as well as Donna, the secretary for the department, through all this paperwork. Everyone was always so excited to help and excited for my adventure. And this is just one example of how the professors in the department will go above and beyond for their students.

I was in the Psychology club during my years at Scranton and this was a great opportunity for making friends outside of my classes. I pretty much know everyone in the Psychology major who is in my grade and in the grades around me. This small class size is really cool because it allowed me to interact with my classmates often forming great friendships. Definitely take advantage of this small class size because you could easily speak out and share your own opinions and you could hear what other students have to say too.

When you get to your senior year, you will have a seminar where you will read from books of different psychologists and the class is very discussion based. This class was one of my favorites because getting to learn from your professors is great, but getting to learn from your friends in your class is even cooler. The university offers so many different classes, from lecture classes, research classes, and even fieldwork experiences. Therefore, you can choose to take electives after you finish the basics in classes that you are more interested in. I think it is really cool that I had the opportunity to choose classes that I enjoyed taking like Abnormal Child Psychology and Cognitive Psychology. Also, during your junior year, you will have a seminar class where you will get to prepare for your future. The professor will teach you things from what your resume should look like to how to do a mock interview for a graduate program.One of my favorite memories was doing the mock interview and being able to learn so much about myself without the pressure or weight of it being the real deal. There are so many opportunities at the university in the department and around campus, so be sure to take advantage of everything it has to offer. Really try to lean into your schoolwork and reach out to your professors because they are here to help you get further.

Overall, take advantage of your time at the university as a student and as a person. You will also grow academically and I encourage you to look back after your first year and see how much you have grown since high school. There is probably going to be a lot of changes so be proud of when you overcome any obstacles this year. I know how hard it can be to make a new friend, to get along with a roommate, to spend countless hours in the library, or to navigate life more independently. I have made it through the other side and I know that with hard work and an open mind you will too. So get ready to have a wild and exciting ride and get ready to challenge yourself like never before. Good luck and I am so jealous that your journey is just beginning!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Get ready for four years of self-discovery! The university offers so many opportunities for you to discover new hobbies, subjects of interest, and your true passions. There is nothing to be scared of, as long as you do what makes you happy. My name is Sabrina and I started my freshman year at the University of Scranton as a biology major on a pre-med track. I had this planned out ever since maybe seventh or eighth grade. I wanted to be a cardiologist; but after about one month into the first semester of my freshman year, I became unsure if that is what I could see myself doing. I went to the career center for help and talked to friends to try to help me decide. I did enjoy biology, but not as much as I thought I did. I went to a research fair, eager to find something of interest and I was so drawn to psychology. So, my first year, I switched into the psychology major and I could not be happier with my decision. It is perfectly fine to switch majors! I know so many peers who have done the same, even multiple times. I added two minors: Sociology and Criminology. Minors are so fun to have if there are other subjects you discover you enjoy, but want to focus on Psychology. I definitely recommend adding one by the end of your sophomore year in any area of study if you come across another class you find interesting. I do wish I minored in a language because it becomes very useful later on in life when job hunting.

College may seem intimidating at first, but you will get into a routine of studying and socializing in no time. One of my favorite things about the university is that every semester, you get to make new friends in each class, especially with smaller class sizes compared to other universities. The faculty is super helpful, especially the psychology faculty! They are so welcoming when it comes to questions about material from class or anything in general. I have learned that meeting with professors during their office hours is a great way to get a better understanding of lecture material that may confuse you. They really do want to help you learn and succeed in school and life. I have been guided by so many professors by discussing my interests and future plans. They offer great advice to help you reach your goal and connections, such as internships or field experience. I wish I took advantage of their office hours much more than I did because I may have done better in some classes by reaching out for help. Also, the psychology faculty are extremely understanding of any difficulties you may be facing at any point in time and they will work with you. Life happens and everyone has personal problems that arise at some point in college, whether you get injured or if there is a family emergency. During my sophomore year, I got a concussion and my professors would consistently check up on me and give me time to complete assignments. I cannot stress enough how much of an advantage you have at the University of Scranton because larger college campuses do not offer these office hours or any personal connection with your professor at all.

Never hesitate to ask a question in or out of class because more often than not, there is at least one other student wondering the same thing. This happens almost every day and I have been both the student who asked a question and was grateful that another student asked a question. Just about every professor loves when you ask questions because it gives them feedback on how well the class is understanding what they are teaching and if they need to clarify anything. This goes back to them genuinely wanting to help you learn and understand everything.

Some more specific advice I can give you is to handwrite your notes. There are some professors that will not even allow a laptop in their class at all. The classes I have had that allow laptops can be distracting to hear all the typing or see students multitasking. This is why some professors do not allow it. Handwriting notes allows you to play with the page more and underline, put boxes, or stars around important topics. You will be drawing many examples from experiments and studies for your psychology classes throughout all four years that are so much easier to draw than type. This alone is why I recommend handwriting your psychology notes. There will be some classes where your professor may merely lecture and speak quickly – in these classes I would recommend typing your notes to make sure you get everything down in time.

Overall, I highly suggest that you take advantage of all the sources the university has to offer. The faculty, CTLE, career center, and counseling center are all tremendously helpful. I am grateful I had these sources to help me get through college and every student is very open about recommending these places to peers. There are many other locations on campus that will assist you when needed, never hesitate to ask for help.

Good luck with your endeavors and more importantly, enjoy your next few years!

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            I would like to congratulate you on being accepted and choosing to attend the University of Scranton. Scranton has truly become my “home away from home” the last four years and I hope it will become yours. You have chosen Psychology as a major- a great major that has helped me grow as a person, develop my passions, and taught me how to work hard. I want to share some advice with you as a first-year student and perhaps some would of encouragement.

             I know entering college is a huge transition period in your life. Many questions are filling your head including, “Did I make the right choice”, “How will I make friends?” and the list goes on. I want to ensure you that every other incoming first-year student is feeling the same way. I remember feeling anxious when I started my journey at Scranton four years ago. Looking back, it is amazing to see how I transitioned from a nervous freshman to a sad senior who never wants to leave. Although this is a time of change it is also a time of excitement.  You are starting college; this is a brand-new experience where you are living on your own for your first time. You will meet some of your best friends at Scranton and create amazing memories. You should be excited about the great things that will happen in the next four years.

            Throughout your next four years, you will hear from faculty and other students to “go outside your comfort zone”. Well, here I am perhaps being the first of many people to tell you to do just that. I recommend joining as many clubs and activities as you want. Scranton offers many ways to get involved, and they even host an event on the Dionne Green where club and team members provide information about how to get involved. Do not be afraid to look around at the fair and ask questions. There are many things to get involved in such as the Psychology Club, Habitat for Humanity, Center for Health, and Wellness just to name a few. Scranton also offers intramural sports and club teams. Joining clubs and teams can help you adjust to your freshman year and is a great way to make friends. Remember to do what you are comfortable with and interested in- it is your choice. It is okay if you do not have it all figured out as soon as you get to Scranton. You will have the opportunity and time over the next four years to choose what you are passionate about and interested in.

            Another intimidating part about going to college is adjusting to the workload. It may seem scary in the beginning but soon you will be comfortable and confident. One of the first things I recommend is to get a good planner. Organizing your assignments and creating a plan will ease your stress. Psychology courses are no joke. You will have to dedicate lots of time to study. Take the time to find out what study habits work best for you- such as writing index cards, outlines, etc. It may seem intimidating, but you will develop habits that work for you in no time. I would recommend finding a spot-on campus to study. I got the most work done at the library and second floor DeNaples. When the weather gets nice out, I recommend sitting outside and taking in the beautiful campus. I loved sitting outside the DeNaples Center and the rose garden located right near the psychology building- Alumni Memorial Hall, better known as AMH.

            One of my favorite things about Scranton is the small class sizes. At Scranton, you are not just a number. You are a person. The professors truly want you to excel. The faculty make a great effort to help you in any way they can.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or need help, do not be afraid to talk to your professor. Your professors will recommend The Writing Center which offers help with papers and The Center Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) offers tutors to help you with any subject you are struggling with. Do not be embarrassed or afraid to take advantage of these services. I would guess that almost every student has had a tutor or brought a paper to be edited. For certain subjects, getting a tutor helped me. Tutors are students who have taken the course, so they know how to help you and give you the best study tips. At CTLE, students again are the ones helping you. I appreciated that instead of just editing my paper, the students took the time to explain my mistakes and way to improve. These services truly helped me develop better skills and had a positive impact on my grades. So, take advantage of these services- and maybe you will be a tutor or editor helping students one day!

            I could go on and on about the things I love about Scranton. Now as a senior, it is my time to leave. However, I know a piece of my heart will always be in Scranton. I will forever be indebted to the University of Scranton for giving me my best friends, helping me grow as a person, and giving me the best education. You have probably heard on tours, and at orientation that Scranton is a community. Perhaps this is what drew you to Scranton. The University of Scranton is a community where everyone is rooting for each other. It is your time to discover all the wonderful things about Scranton and yourself. I hope you are excited for your next four years! The best is truly yet to come.

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I would first like to welcome you to the University of Scranton and to the psychology program. I know that you are probably slightly nervous to start your college career; however, I want to address a few key points that I believe will set you up for success in the years to come. To start, you have made an excellent decision in choosing psychology as your major. The faculty and staff have shown me nothing but support and care during my last four years as a psychology major. The psychology major affords you many options when it comes to your career as many organizations appreciate those who possess the skills of a psychology major. I will be focusing most of this letter on tips that I wish someone had told me when I first came to the University. Three areas of focus that I would like to address will be which classes to take, activities offered by the faculty, and graduate school preparation.

When starting your undergraduate career as a psychology major, you may notice the large variety in electives. The psychology program offered a vast number of elective courses that each focus on a specific area of psychology. My advice to you would be to take as many psychology-based courses as you possibly can. Throughout my four years, I have taken almost all the psychology electives that are offered, and this has helped me understand which area of psychology I want my career to pursue. Gaining basic knowledge in every approach to psychology will only benefit you as you decide how you want your career to progress. You will learn a great deal what you are drawn to in the field, and you can take more specific classes tailored to your interests when you reach junior year. I would push some of your more general education courses to your junior and senior year or consider taking them during intersession. You will want to stack your first two years with as much psychology as you can. Taking these courses early on will help you develop relationships with the faculty and understand the underpinnings of the field.

My next topic will be in relation to what departmental activities you should try to get involved in. My advice to you is to get in contact with the faculty as soon as possible and express your interest to assist in research or teaching. While you may not understand what these positions entail yet, becoming involved in them will allow you to pursue many more avenues in the future. Involving yourself in faculty research or in teaching will help you understand if your interests lie in pursuing advanced degrees in the future. I have participated in faculty research for two years and I was a teaching assistant for a semester. My only regret is that I did not embrace these activities sooner. Being involved with the faculty has not only provided me with mentors, it has also helped ignite my passion for research. Becoming more involved in the department will also help your name be heard by every faculty member as they frequently discuss who is active in the department. This can only benefit you as professors may reach out to you for academic opportunities.

My final topic will be regarding graduate school preparation. If your goal is to either pursue an M.A. or a PhD. I would recommend researching the program requirements as soon as possible. Many of these programs are incredibly competitive as they want students who have been actively involved in research and academia. It will benefit you greatly if you start researching potential programs now and then tailoring which academic activities you par-take in to fit program requirements. Personally, I have done two years of research, was a teaching assistant, and participated in a clinical internship and I was still rejected by PhD. programs for not having enough experience. Programs will want you to be involved in research almost every year of your undergraduate. Another point to mention here is that not getting into a M.A. or PhD.  program on your first attempt is not uncommon. If this situation does occur, do not be discouraged and do not panic. There are many options to consider that will help build your C.V. so that you can apply again later. Finally, if you do want to pursue graduate school, started researching the GRE around your sophomore year. The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is not an easy test and will require dedicated study hours.

I know that I have given you many things to consider and I have probably raised only more questions when it comes to your future. This is a positive as these questions will help you decide what you want out of the psychology major and your future. I hope that this letter has informed you of the different actives to par-take in when you begin you career at the University of Scranton. I am sure that you will have a lovely time during your four years here, and I wish you nothing but success in the psychology program.

Your Friend,

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(#26) 

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Congratulations on choosing to become a psychology major at the University of Scranton! A degree in psychology, especially at this school, will open up many doors both in your professional life and personal life. I know that things may be uncertain now, and I have no way of knowing your specific situation, but I guarantee these years will fly by faster than you think. I have been asked to write a letter passing on some advice and tips for the next generation of students, and hopefully by the end of this letter you’ll learn a thing or two.

The first thing to keep in mind is that college may not be as different from high school as others will tell you. Sure, there is a gradual increase in work and more is to be expected of you, but the structure of classes is most likely similar to what you’re used to. Time management is a lot more important, so I suggest getting a weekly planner each year from the school bookstore and plan out what assignments you need to work on each day. This is my go-to tip for all newcomers, and it has saved me a TON of stress and time in my four years here. When you know exactly what you need to do each day, you can start setting goals and eventually reaching them with time to spare, allowing you to better enjoy your time here.

The next piece of advice I would give is to look up your professors before signing up for a class. Don’t just look at their score, look at what attributes they exemplify in class and if they do not seem appealing to you. It is not beneficial to just take courses your friends are in, but having friends in a course can be a blessing. As an additional note, I’ve found that it is ALWAYS better to take a decent teacher at an earlier time than a teacher you do not learn well with at a more convenient time. If the teacher vibes well enough with you, you’ll forget that you’re even waking up early for their class.

Another piece of advice more specific to the psychology department is to take courses on things you might be tangentially interested in to expand your horizons. I took a course back in my sophomore year that sparked an interest that led me to add a minor in something I wasn’t previously interested in, so learning more broadly is never a bad thing. Speaking of broad, studying abroad is something everyone (including me) wishes they did in college but oftentimes many don’t do it. I don’t know what the travel situation is like when you receive this, but if you’re able to I would highly recommend it.

As a more general piece of advice, enjoy your time here. You’re here to learn, but also grow as a person and experience new things. As with most things in life, balance is paramount. Too much of any one thing is detrimental to the other, so having a proper balance of both is the best route to success. Even if it’s just getting up from your seat to take a short walk or chatting with friends, a quick break can be very effective during study sessions. But the same also works in reverse. Doing even a little bit of work on a day where you feel like you can’t is so much better than doing nothing at all.

All in all, I guarantee that your time at the University of Scranton is going to be a positive one overall. I entered this school much like you probably are: scared at being alone for the first time in my life, nervous about all the classwork, etc. But as the days and weeks moved on I slowly became more comfortable with the pace of day-to-day life and started to handle my classes better. It may be a process, but what in life isn’t. So live how you want to. Take in the sights and sounds that Scranton has to offer, do something you normally wouldn’t do, make friends, find yourself. But most importantly, do everything you can the best that you can do. If you follow these tips and listen to even a bit of the advice I’ve given you, you’re gonna go far with college. Just remember to give your parents a call every once in a while.

Good luck to you, and welcome to the Scranton Family!

Regards,

A Graduating Senior

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

            Congrats on choosing the University of Scranton. I have no doubt you are going to love your time at Scranton and with the Psychology Department. Your four years here are going to fly by, trust me, so make sure you make the most out of them.

           One of the best things about the psychology curriculum is how much flexibility you have! There are lots of psychology courses to choose from so make sure you choose the ones that interest you the most, you do not want one of your core classes to be boring. I also highly recommend having a minor, you have a lot of free credits available with this curriculum, do not let them go to waste.  I joined the psychology department at the beginning of my junior year so most of my free credits were taken by the biology courses I previously took. If there is something you are interested in, there are classes at Scranton that allows you to explore those interests. You may also find that even with a minor you have some additional credits. Do not be afraid to find some easy courses that seem interesting to boost up your GPA.

           If by the end of your first year, you liked your RA, and have even the slightest inclination of wanting to be an RA, do it. It was one of the best experiences I have had at Scranton. You are constantly surrounded by great people who are there to support you, you get to be a role model for other students, and you don’t have to pay for housing or a meal plan. The RA role looks great on your resume and you will learn a lot of life lessons, and have crazy stories to tell your friends. Also, you get to keep all the food your residents don’t eat at your programs which is a huge bonus.

           Also while on the subject of great experiences to have on your resume. Join the school's Phonathon! It pays $9.25 an hour and you work with an incredible team. You can earn fake money during work shifts that use can use to buy different Scranton merch. The job is essentially calling alumni and parents for donations to the University. I know it sounds terrible at first but in a world where no one calls each other, this will help you in the professional world when employers call you for interviews. You may also have difficult conversations with alumni and will learn how to navigate a conversation, which also helps in the psychology field. You will also learn a lot throughout the position, and develop skills that will help you in the workforce.

           Lastly, in your four years of college, there are going to be opportunities or experiences that may scare you, or intimidate you. Those are the experiences that you will find you enjoy the most and help you in the long run. If there is a club you want to join but you do not know anyone in the club, join anyway. Everyone at Scranton is incredibly nice and will make you feel at home. If you are having trouble in a class and are scared to go to office hours, go anyway. The professors are here to help, especially in the psychology department. The biggest one I can think of is events on campus. A lot of people do not go to events because they think they are lame or it’s not as much fun as hanging out with your friends. I promise you they are not. If your RA is throwing a program that you find interesting, go to the program, even if your friends do not go with you. You will find other people there who have similar interests as you and you will form more friendships. I have never regretted going out of my comfort zone for an opportunity or expertise while at Scranton, but I do regret the times that I didn’t.

           As cliché as it sounds, these next four years of your life will be the best four years of your life and will go by in the blink of an eye. Make the most out of every experience, the last thing you want is to finish college with a list of regrets.

One last bit of advice, never go to ‘Fellas for late-night pizza, it’s terrible. I know they have $1 slices but every other pizza joint has $1.50 slices and trust me it’s worth the extra $0.50. I highly recommend Scranton Pizzaria, despite them spelling pizzeria wrong, their slices are great.

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

Welcome to the ride of your life. You will be challenged, pushed to your limits, and question yourself, but you will also hopefully discover who you truly are, what you want out of life, and where you want to go. My experience at the University of Scranton has been a little different than most, so I will share with you some of my tribulations and triumphs through the past four years and how my experience as a psychology major taught me more about myself and life than I could have ever hoped for.

I started off my time at Scranton as an Exercise Science major with a guaranteed seat into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I fought for that seat as an incoming freshman but soon realized in my first semester that it wasn’t where my ambitions lied. At the end of my first semester, my brother tragically passed away which gave me a whole new perspective on what I wanted in life. I hope whoever is reading this never has to face the personal struggles I have overcame, but I found that any adversity or challenge, no matter how small, you face in college points you in directions you are meant to go in whether you stay in the Psychology department or not. You should be openminded, be courageous, and above all, you should challenge yourself. If I could talk to my freshmen self today, I would tell myself just that. I was a commuter for the first three years of college, but that is no excuse to not participate in the many opportunities the Psychology department provides along with the entire university. You should get involved in the Psychology club, go after a teacher’s assistant position, apply for research positions, and hopefully make long lasting friendships along the way. The University of Scranton is a smaller university, so you will see the same classmates consistently in your classes especially in the Psychology department. You should say hello to everyone you recognize. Don’t be nervous because I guarantee they want to say hello too. Because I was struggling with the loss of my brother for my entire college experience, I bounced back and forth between neglecting schoolwork and neglecting my mental health. Instead of seeking help, I struggled silently. I recommend you do the complete opposite when you are struggling with anything. Talk to your professors and use other resources at the university. At the end of the day, as psychology will teach you, finding yourself and being your true self will be the greatest lesson you can learn in life, and you can’t do that when stress overtakes you. However, I must say, college and the new experiences you will be faced with aren’t easy, but you may already have great resilience and my advisement may not apply to you at this moment, but if you can take anything from my personal experience, remember to be openminded.

The Psychology department you are entering into is filled with opportunity, intelligent professors, organized staff, and great classes. You should take Psychology courses that interest you along with one’s that will challenge you. There will definitely be classes you prefer more than others, but that is what college is about. If you have a question, go to office hours. My biggest regret is not reaching out to my professors and creating relationships with them. If you do poorly in a class, retake it without fear because there is no harm in continuing to challenge yourself. Research methods is known as one of the hardest classes in the psychology department but don’t be discouraged by that. I believe your curriculum comprises this class over two semesters now, but either way, this course will thoroughly aid your journey in psychology so put effort into studying. Many students have had to retake this course, but if you use your professor as a resource and work with your classmates, you will succeed. Sadly, not all professors are as welcoming as the next but don’t be discouraged by that. You should keep asking questions and maintain the zest for learning. Don’t let them tear you down or make you feel dumb. I definitely let one simple conversation deter me from seeking help for a while which I regret tremendously because the Psychology department is filled with faculty that want to help. I mentioned before how I didn’t take advantage of the many opportunities the department presents. Please don’t be like me. I loved research but failed to look into those opportunities. I originally wanted to go into clinical work but never took advantage of the clinical field experience. Don’t be like me. Take advantage of opportunities in fields you are interested in.

I hope my experiences both personally and educationally help you succeed to the best of your abilities. I have no doubt that you will love the University of Scranton. You will learn more than you ever imagined both inside and outside of the classroom. Have fun with your friends but don’t neglect your schoolwork. You shouldn’t spend all your time on schoolwork, but you also shouldn’t spend all your time having fun with friends in the hills. Time management is key to success. Focus on yourself these next four years. Find yourself. Transfer what you learn in the classroom to daily life. Psychology has aided my journey to find my true self, and I hope you find the same joy when you are in my position four years from now.

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Dear incoming psychology majors,

            First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on not only choosing psychology as your major, but also on picking an excellent institution to study it at. I have found studying psychology to be incredibly rewarding and I’m sure you will start to work it into your daily life, whether you do so consciously or unconsciously. The road ahead of you is filled with long nights  of studying and writing papers, but, I hope the sage advice I offer you will make your journey toward an undergraduate degree in psychology a little easier and less stressful.

            The absolute paramount piece of advice I can give you is to start improving your writing as soon as possible. You will be writing plenty of papers in your immediate future, and knowing how to properly write will go a long way. Some of the professors in the department can be a bit unforgiving in grading essays—but for good reason. These professors are helping you get prepared for the real world, and the next steps you will take once you have your degree. Writing is an essential skill in any field, and being a skilled writer will take you the distance either within or outside the field of psychology. Remember this when you get your first paper back, I promise you they are not giving you a bad grade because they think it is fun.

            Secondly, you should absolutely get involved in the major as much as you possibly can. I was one of the less involved students in the major, and I felt like I would have enjoyed my time within the psychology department more if I was slightly more involved. Granted, I found myself getting involved with other clubs and such, but being involved within your major is so much more of an enriching experience. You will make fantastic friends with the other students and even some of the professors this way. Furthermore, you are going to see these people a lot, arguably all the time. It would definitely be in your best interest to at least make a few friends within the major.

            Often, the best advice one can get is often by learning from the examples of others. More specifically, examples of what one should not do. Before I go on about some of the poorer choices I have made during my time at the University of Scranton, I would like to disclose one thing. While yes, I am aware of the poor decisions I have made, they did not by any means “ruin” my college career. You yourself might make some poor choices too, but it is important to know that these do not define you nor are they permanent. We all choose the wrong path every now and then, and I promise you there is no sense in beating yourself up over every wrong turn. One bad choice will not make or break your college career, so long as you know how to bounce back from it.

            Like I mentioned earlier, I have made some poor decisions in my college career. I only entered the major of psychology at the beginning of my junior year. Fortunately, I was still able to finish my degree within four years, but it was no simple feat. Completing four years' worth of coursework within two years proved to be incredibly difficult. Taking multiple semesters of back-to-back psychology classes definitely took a toll on my GPA and mental health, as there were many times I felt hopeless about finishing school. However, I was lucky enough to have the best support system I could have. My family, friends, and my girlfriend at the time kept me motivated to do my work and do it to the best of my ability. What can you take away from this? Well, firstly do not try and complete a four-year major in two. But secondly, trust the process and trust yourself. You will feel defeated and overwhelmed many times, I can promise you that. But by all means, you must continue to push forward. Whatever moving forward may mean for you, do that. If moving forward means starting over somewhere else—whether it is starting a new major or at a new school—that is okay! I changed my major at least five times before deciding on psychology, and I still managed to finish school within four years. If I can somehow make it through the mess my college life was, I guarantee you can too.

            Finally, you should know you are embarking on a journey that can be considered the beginning of the rest of your life. You will make friends that will last a lifetime here at the University of Scranton, and you might even meet someone who will become your spouse. That being said, work hard but play harder. College is a once in a lifetime experience, do everything you can to make the most of it. The University of Scranton is filled with hard-working, intelligent individuals—but at the end of the day, we all like to have fun. Have as much fun as you can while you can still have it. I hope the University of Scranton is good to you as it was to me these next four years.

            Best of luck in the coming years,

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

I know starting college can be a nerve-wracking experience, but I’m here to let you know it is going to get better! Throughout college there may be many instances where you may feel lost and that’s okay. The first year of college may be the easiest or the hardest for some. You may have some hard classes and wonder why your friends don’t. You may encounter strict teachers and some that are very lenient. Through easy and tough times know that the University of Scranton is preparing you for the rest of your life. Just like any other experience, college can get difficult and there may be harder teachers than others, like in the future, you can experience some problems at your job or have a really strict boss. Even though you may feel things are very hard at times, know that everyone has those moments. All these academic experiences we get from the University of Scranton, whether you may find them easy or stressful, is what will make you an independent young adult, ready to “set the world on fire” (St. Ignatius Loyola).

I began my experience as a psychology major my junior year of college. I know you may think that’s pretty late to be switching or deciding on a major, but it’s doable. Although it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, I can assure you it is worth prioritizing and after the four years you will realize and feel it. Throughout my experience as a University of Scranton Psychology major, I can say I have definitely learned so much about the many areas in psychology and have grown an interest and passion to learn even more. As a senior, I advise you to reach out to clubs, such as the psychology club, professors, and peers to seek opportunities in how you can become involved with the university and take advantage of the experiences given. That is one thing I can say I regret. My first two years of college, I was very timid and hesitant and did not do things out of my comfort zone. I personally feel this affected me because I did not take advantage of that time to make connections. Although I was able to make up for it in the following two years, it is so beneficial to reach out to professors and peers. Although professors would tell us their office hours, I would only go a few days prior to big assessments, which I personally do not recommend. In order to succeed and perform to the best of your ability, I advise you to go to office hours even during the first weeks of class. It does not hurt to get to know your professors and ask any questions about material learned that week; even if you show up every week it is okay. I also suggest taking this opportunity in order to build your resume. This can serve as a foundation for you to become a teacher’s assistant or be involved in research with professors. It all may sound like a lot to do and an intimidating process, but it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone. Psychology professors are willing to teach and help you by giving you these opportunities. Be willing to take advantage of these and run with them because I promise it can make a huge difference on your future.  

My experience at the University of Scranton is one I will cherish forever. Though not an easy journey, I know the hard work and dedication I put into these past years have paid off. The opportunities given are endless, so please think about them, reject them, or take them, but know that what you do with them is what will matter in the end. Specifically, for this, I will forever be grateful for the impact this experience has made in my life, in transforming me into a young independent open-minded individual who’s ready to step into our society and willingly help others. As a University of Scranton Psychology Alumni, I suggest to not be intimidated and step outside your comfort zone, it will open up so many doors and eventually, together, we can “set the world on fire” (St. Ignatius Loyola).

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(#31)

Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Incoming Psychology Major,

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

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

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

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

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

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