Psychology students are often a misunderstood lot, primarily due to the lack of awareness by the public about what the field encompasses.
Some of the things that may come to the minds of many when the word “psychology” or “psychologist” is uttered may be a therapist sitting in a room, listening to patients pouring their hearts out while lying on a sofa.
Others may think that the field only involves work with “crazy people”, forgetting that people from all walks of life, including young children, students and the elderly, can be affected by mental health problems at any point in their life, prompting them to seek the services of a counsellor or psychologist.
To debunk some of the common myths about the field, here is a non-exhaustive list of the common misconceptions related to studying psychology.
#1. Psychology students and graduates can read minds
Psychology can broadly be defined as the study of the human mind and behaviour. The curriculum, however, does not entail mind reading.
This assumption can be a major source of frustration among psychology students or graduates. It is not uncommon to be asked, “What am I thinking now?” upon telling others what you majored in.
Not unlike most people, the most a psychology student or graduate can do is make an educated guess of what a person may be feeling based on their body language.
#2. Graduating with a Psychology Degree makes you a psychologist
Psychology students or graduates may be able to relate to being called a psychologist despite not being one!
What many may not understand is that graduating with a Psychology Degree does not make a person a psychologist. One needs to acquire a master’s degree or a PhD in a related field to be qualified as one.
Additionally, you may also encounter instances where others may ask you to “analyse” or diagnose them, or confide in you to obtain your feedback thanks to your background in psychology. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Undergraduate students are not equipped with the necessary skills to do so.
#3. A Psychology Degree is useless
Contrary to what many may believe, obtaining a Psychology Degree is not a waste of time nor is it a “useless degree”.
There are students who opt to study psychology with the intention of furthering their studies to become a mental health professional, making the degree an important stepping stone for their chosen profession.
However, there are also those who choose to study psychology out of interest, with no intention of becoming a mental health practitioner in the future.
Regardless, degrees can be considered as passports into the working world as many have gone on to work in fields that are vastly different from their university qualifications.
#4. It is a degree for those who are academically weak
Psychology programmes attract students from all walks of life. This could mean top students in school to the average performer.
While different institutions will have different entry requirements, the curriculum can be challenging in its own right. From conducting research to sifting through published journals, there are always pros and cons to each programme.
There’s also no running away from the fact that pursuing higher education can be stressful as it requires you to invest ample time and effort to complete your assignments, work with different students, conduct research and study for exams.
#5. Psychology graduates are unemployable
Not so! You can still carve out a career in a different field despite graduating with a Psychology Degree.
Psychology graduates can find themselves working in a variety of areas, from human resource to the media line. What’s important for you to remember is to develop additional skills while you are still studying to enhance your employability, although this advice applies to students in any degree.
If you’re keen on making a change in people’s lives and venturing into the realm of mental health upon graduating, consider furthering your studies to specialise in a particular area.
At the end of the day, psychology is often a misunderstood field that does not always receive the spotlight it deserves. Despite that, those who are keen on studying psychology may find the experience a truly rewarding one.