Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Life of a Psych Major

Hey Everyone!!

At the moment, I was just thinking, "Hey Alex, (ha- yes I do sometimes speak in the third person when talking to myself lol ;) talk to your wonderful readers about being a Psych major sometime soon."

So that's exactly what I'm going to do today!!

Choosing your major in general is such a big thing. Looking back to the end of my Junior year of high school, if you would've asked me what I wanted to major in, I probably would've have said something like, "Uhh... major? Hmm... yeah, I don't know, but I'll get back to you once I'm a Senior!!"

I think it was my friends who actually helped me decide to be a Psych major. I've always been the girl that everyone goes to when they're having a tough day and just wanted someone to listen to. One of my best friends always used to say I was a mini therapist, always there to help someone turn their frown into a smile.

I knew no matter what I wanted to help people. That's just all I've wanted to do since I was a kid. I wanted to make people feel better, whether it be giving them one of my Monsters Inc. band aids when someone had a cut on the playground or pretend to be a bunny (During my loose teeth face, my top front teeth looked like little bunny teeth hahaha :) and make a friend laugh after having a tough day.

While you can do this really with an major you choose, after much research, I chose Psychology. When looking at colleges, I spoke to professors in the Psych department, asking them things like, "Well, I know I want Psychology, but I don't know what exactly I want to do with it. Got any ideas?"

Well, SMC was just the perfect fit and the Psych program has been amazing for me :)

With the Psych program at SMC, you are really exposed to so many different types of Psychology. Cognitive, Clinical, Developmental- you name it we most likely have it!!

Me? I had no idea what ANY of these fields were. I know this may sound naive, but I thought once I had chose my major, that would be it- I was soooo confused!!

Well, two years later, I'm here to tell you, it's going to be okay :) With all majors, you will receive an adviser who will talk to you about what you're interested in and what you want to do with your major. You also meet with them every semester, one on one, to just talk about what classes you want to take next semester.

So, to classes. There are many to choose from. In my 2 and a half years at SMC, I've taken 9 Psych course, and taking 1 more semester before I'm actually done with my electives and on to my senior classes next year.

For Psych majors, there are four required classes- Psych 101 (General Psychology) Research Methods I and II, and History and Issues your senior year. By the end of this semester, I'll be finished with 3 of these 4 requirements (yayayayay!!)

So, let me talk about the classes I've had so far:
Psych 101: Wow- it is something. It's everything you wanted to touch on in Psychology in one semester. To tell you the truth, I had no clue that Psychology was so in depth and broad!! It helped me to realize where I really wanted to focus my Psychology major on and prepared me for many electives I would take in the future. Usually, you meet three times a week- twice for a lecture and once for discussion. Psych 101 also qualifies as an LSR in organizational studies. This is a required course for any Psych major and minor.

Research Methods I and II: It's awful of me to say, but I have to be honest with my wonderful readers- Research Methods is definitely not my favorite part of being a Psych major. Research Methods is broken into two semesters- semester 1 is the statistics part of Psychology, semester 2 is actually putting on your own research and turning it into an experiment. Since I'm not a math girl, Research Methods I was a bit difficult for me. Thank goodness I had a terrific professor (shout out to Professor Richardson!!) and a lot of friends in the class who could help me to make sense of it all. Research Methods II, while tough, has been terrific- I actually just submitted my first research proposal and I'm really excited to see how it turns out!!

Adolescent Development: My favorite course in Psychology so far. I think what made it so great was my Professor, Sue Kuntz. She was absolutely phenomenal and actually inspired me to focus my degree in Psychology by working with adolescents. In Adolescent Development, you really get to focus not only on biological topics such as puberty, but also on things such as relationships, cross cultural differences during adolescence, and a great deal of reflection on your experiences through out the teen years. What's terrific is that many of the upper level classes are opened to other majors as well, so I would highly recommend this course to both Psych majors and anyone interested in working with adolescents.

Child Development: Child Development is an absolutely terrific course and has taught me so much about young children in general. Professor Carrico, who also taught my Research Methods II makes class really fun and interesting, which is extremely important, especially at 8 in the morning :) We've learned about topics such as the development of language and linguistics, birth and newborn stages, and sensation and perception. A lot of Biology and Chemistry majors take this class as well as Psych majors and I would absolutely recommend this course for anyone interested in human development and children in general.

Behavioral Neuroscience: One of the two psych labs offered, I absolutely adore this class. Even if you're not a Psych major, you can take this as your lab requirement. Professor Tomasulo is the sweetest person ever and even though the material is a little difficult at first, she helps you out so much!! I've gotten the chance to perform an EEG, touch a human brain and dissect a sheep brain, and can pretty much tell you the different locations and parts of the brain. It really is such a cool class and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in Physiological Psych!!

Abnormal Psych: For those of you interested in counseling in the future or maybe just interested in learning more about topics such as depression, Autism, PTSD, and Multiple Personality Disorder, then this is the class for you. Abnormal is a great introduction to the clinical side of Psychology and Professor Miller, who also has his own practice, provides us with real, hands on experiences.

Drugs and Behavior: This class focused on psychopharmacology. We focused on illegal to legal drugs, learning about the part they play in both society and neurologically. While it was definitely my toughest classes, I've learned so much that I never knew about psychopharmacology and all the ways it can play into our lives.

Psych and Religion: If you love psychology, religion, and philosophy, this is the class for you. This class opened my eyes to so many different theorists and the psychological perspective on religion from the past to the present. Professor Adams is one of the funniest guys you could meet and always encourages some great discussion. It helped me to see religion in a very different perspective and apply my own religious beliefs to it. Really just an awesome class and it's offered only in the fall, so definitely take advantage of it!!

I will definitely keep updating everyone on the classes I'm taking, not only for Psych, but in general because of the amazing liberal arts requirements that SMC offers. So, far I love being a Psych major and am so glad I chose it :)

Please feel free, if you ever have any questions, to send me a question on Formspring, a tweet on Twitter, or even a quick email- I would absolutely love to hear from you!!

Until next time, I send you my very best wishes,
Alex :)

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