Here are a list of things I wish I had known before starting my journey of studying for a degree in Psychology.
Psychology is a science
There is a never-ending argument as to whether psychology is or isn’t a science. Some would call it a social science, and some would call it a pseudoscience. However, no matter how you look at it, there is a large element of science incorporated into a Psychology degree. Brain function, cells and neurons are all common terms that arise within a psychology degree, and they are of equal importance as well-known theories such as Freud or Jung. Whether you enjoy it or not, science will always play a key role in Psychology, but I assure you that it is super interesting!
Don’t fret if you didn’t study biology at A-Level though! The beauty of a degree is you start with the basics and build upon your knowledge. You will be taught all of the basics the same as everyone else so you are all on the same level.
You may not agree with everything you learn about
Psychology is a broad subject. People have strong opinions and endless ideas about behaviour, whether you agree with them or not. It is completely natural, and encouraged, to form your own opinions on different theories. In turn, this can help you to evaluate theories too, so being critical is useful.
However, don’t disregard theories. Psychology is formed from the craziest to the most transparent ideas of why people behave the way they do. Every theory is as important as the next. Take them at face value and explore them deeply. It can be quite fun to have a little debate with other students.
Not everyone will be as dedicated
Not everyone attends university for the same reasons. This much is true for any degree. Whether you wake up at 7am or you party until the early morning, you will have a different lifestyle to most of the people around you. It is important to accept that people will always have different priorities, different levels of dedication and different approaches to their degree and life. Whether you believe other students should work harder or study in a different way, you should remain supportive of your peers.
Nevertheless, it is crucial that you don’t let other people drag you down or make you feel bad for working hard. It is your degree, and you deserve to succeed whilst enjoying it too.
Some questions won’t have answers
Life is full of existential questions and many of which may never be answered. The same situation occurs in the field of Psychology. For example, we may never discover why we dream, or whether our behaviour is shaped by nature, nurture or both. Unfortunately, we can only form our own theories to answer these questions as there may never be a definitive answer, despite such advances in technology, education and knowledge.
It is important to not get too concerned about having an answer for everything, but more having reason to believe a certain theory. Being able to support your beliefs is so important when studying Psychology.
Contribution by Tara Reynolds, undergraduate student at the University of Liverpool.