Making a college selection isn’t an easy process for most high school students, and picking a major oftentimes isn’t either. For students who decide to major in psychology, there are tons of career pathways beyond traditional roles as psychologists, therapists or counselors. In fact, psychology majors go on to become teachers, social workers, and advocates for change. So, why major in psychology? Here’s why:
“We need psychologists! Our society will always need people with an understanding of the issues that our majors learn about. For example, the number of people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple within the next 45 years. We will need a lot of graduates who know how to support those folks, and that is just one example,” explained John Moore, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Olivet College. “Psychology graduates are good all-rounders. They develop a very wide range of skills and abilities, and these can allow them to apply for a wide range of jobs.”
Psychology at Olivet College
Olivet College’s psychology program provides opportunities for learning, service and career preparation for students interested in and committed to understanding and furthering people’s positive change and development. Students are encouraged to think critically about human behavior, to respect the complexity and diversity of individuals, and to explore the many applications of psychology essential to helping each other function successfully in an increasingly demanding and global society.
In addition, the program emphasizes career and graduate school preparation in basic and applied areas of psychology, such as counseling, clinical practice, child development, family studies, gerontology, rehabilitation, neuroscience, education, social work and health fields. In conjunction with other fields, psychology also supports preparation in business management, psychiatry, and art or music therapy.
“Studying psychology exposes students to a very wide variety of subjects and topics. Our students take standard psychology courses such as abnormal psychology and research methods and design, but we also teach courses that focus on things like language and culture,” Dr. Moore said. “This means that our students have developed a wide range of knowledge and skills by the time they leave us.”
Hear it From Comets
Senior Tyler Douglas, president of the Black Student Union and captain of the football team, originally chose to major in health science, but realized he enjoyed his psychology classes more than his biology and chemistry classes and decided to change majors. Since, he landed an internship at the Burma Center in Springfield, aimed to empower Burmese Americans through advocacy, community engagement and education. Tyler tutors middle and high school students, helping young men and women develop successful futures. The experience has done the same for Tyler, helping him solidify his career path.
“I feel like I learn something new in every one of my psychology classes,” Tyler said. “The professors do a great job of helping make the coursework interesting and beneficial, and they genuinely care about you and if you understand the material.”
Fellow psychology major Rachel Stoneburner is using her education to advocate for the often overlooked, persons with cognitive disabilities. Last year, Rachel gained the opportunity of a lifetime – practicum experience working with a partnership between AmeriCorps and Peckham, a vocational rehabilitation center providing job opportunities and training to those with disabilities or other barriers to employment. She served as an economic opportunity coach, teaching money management, employability, and stress and time management skills to employees with disabilities. For Rachel, the experience was invaluable, giving her opportunities for hands-on, real world experiences with the target group of people she wants to work with; for those she counseled, they couldn’t be more appreciative of Rachel’s support and guidance.
“Dr. Moore has been wonderful helping me find the right career path,” Rachel said. “He’s always supported me and my aspirations, and his classes are fun, too. Dr. Moore does an awesome job of teaching in a real world perspective. We don’t just learn from a book or PowerPoint, but we discuss and practice techniques. One example is learning about motivational interviewing; that’s where you counsel someone by asking questions and letting them think through solutions to their problems rather than trying to guide them by telling them what to do.”
“Psychology majors should be curious about the world and the people in it, and open to learning about some difficult issues, like Tyler and Rachel,” Dr. Moore added. “A lot of our focus is on the problems people face, everything from the causes of depression to the effects of racism. We also get to discuss solutions and remedies to problems, however, and that can be very interesting and rewarding.”
Beyond the Books
Dr. Moore is a perfect example of the various roles and areas a professional in the field of psychology can encounter. As a student, he served as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and later focused on suicide prevention research after completing his doctorate degree, before transitioning to teaching. In addition, Dr. Moore’s career has allowed him to explore the world, studying in the United Kingdom before serving colleges and universities in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and now Michigan.
Psychology isn’t just a great major; as a minor it pairs well with many other programs. “The sociology and anthropology and criminal justice programs are the two stand out areas, because it helps to have a thorough understanding of human behavior if you work in those fields,” Dr. Moore explained. “However, psychology will pair well with any major. Learning something about why people behave the way they do is important no matter what direction your career follows.”
Schedule a campus visit or attend an upcoming admissions event to learn more about OC’s psychology program. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.