7 Ways for Undergraduate Psychology Majors to Prepare for Graduate School
By: Jenna Savage
With a major in psychology, students can go on into a variety of careers. It isn’t necessary for psychology students to attend graduate school and become psychologists, as there are many other options they can pursue. If you’re a prospective psychologist or researcher, though, it’s best to start preparing for your future as an undergraduate. Getting a head start on making yourself into a marketable graduate applicant will make the application process easier. Below are seven steps that you can take to prepare for graduate school.
- Plan Ahead. If you’re reading this, you’re already on the right track. Planning ahead and getting a good start on preparing for your future career will give you an advantage over your peers. By doing your research, getting good experience, and following the other steps outlined below, you should have an excellent foundation by the time you apply for graduate school.
- Determine Your Interests. When you attend graduate school, you’re going to be doing a lot of research. It’s important to determine not only the areas of psychology in which you’re interested, but also the areas that you feel you can dedicate a lot of time and effort into researching and studying. By doing a little bit of research to discover what field within psychology you want to pursue, you’ll be able to narrow down potential graduate schools and choose those that will best suit your interests.
- Talk to Your Professors. Networking with your professors is an important step in preparing for graduate school. Most universities require recommendation letters as part of the application package. By getting to know your professors and letting them get to know you, you will establish connections that will help you when it comes time to start applying to schools.
- Join Associations. Becoming affiliated with professional associations will improve your resume. They’ll also give you the opportunity to attend events, conventions, and lectures, all of which will also give you excellent experience and help your resume to stand out among other graduate school applicants.
- Get Experience. As an undergraduate, you should seek out opportunities that will not only prepare you for graduate school, but also give you relevant experience that you can put on your resume. Participate in research, work in labs, and find ways to assist professors. By getting experience in the psychology field, you will make yourself into an appealing candidate for graduate school.
- Keep Your Resume Current. It’s easy to lose track of what you want to put on your resume, especially if you participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, attend a lot of conventions and meetings, and have a lot of work experience. By keeping your resume up-to-date, you will be able to include everything while the details are still fresh in your mind. Then, when you begin to apply for graduate school, you won’t have to go back and try to remember everything you’ve done throughout your undergraduate education.
- Research Schools and Programs. Find the program that best fits what you want to study and the research you want to conduct. Don’t be afraid to contact graduate professors to determine if their research interests match yours. Ask questions, read reviews, and ultimately, choose the school that works for you.