Psychology is a complex and rewarding field of study that focuses on human behavior and thinking. Most major universities offer bachelor’s degrees in psychology. However, a bachelor’s degree is not sufficient for advancement in this field. A bachelor’s degree in psychology will be very general. You will not go into depth in any of the major subfields of psychology during your bachelor degree studies. For that reason, a master’s degree is the bear minimum for becoming a registered psychologist. If you’re thinking about studying psychology, you will want to possess, or be willing to develop, the following qualities.
Strong study skills. Like any post graduate program, your study skills will be tested to the extreme. You must be good at “learning how to learn.” For example, you must be able to read quickly and accurately. You need to be able to read many different types of writing and be able to synthesize the important information quickly. Additionally, you must be disciplined with the amount of time you are willing to spend studying. The general rule of thumb is that for every one hour you spend in class you should spend two hours studying. Studying successfully both on your own and with a group is key to having success as a psychology student. Your classmates can provide a valuable resource for helping you learn if you use them correctly.
You must be able to use a computer and the internet very efficiently as you embark on your psychology studying. Most non-experimental research is done on the internet nowadays so you must be comfortable finding legitimate and accurate information online. At the same time, you must be familiar with how to write papers and use other software like spreadsheets and presentation development.
A large part of studying to be a psychologist is being able to speak to people comfortably and explain complex concepts to them in a simple matter. To that end, your presentation skills must be strong or you must be willing to work at them diligently. Joining a group like Toastmasters or another public speaker organization might be a good idea if you’re concerned about your presentation skills. A psychologist has to be comfortable taking to his or her patients, research subjects, or colleagues. Being able to articulate your findings or research in a clear way is important to getting your ideas out into the world.
Perhaps the most important quality you must have is an innate curiosity about the world and particularly the people in it. Psychology strives to explain why people behave the way they do so you must be full of questions about what you observe around you. An innate sense of curiosity is what will drive you to success when graduate school is beating you down. You have to care about psychology to the point that temporary setbacks or frustrations do not derail you from your quest.
If you do not currently possess all of these qualities, don’t worry too much. If you are willing to work hard at obtaining them, then I think you can still be successful studying psychology. The only quality that you must have without question is a burning desire to study psychology. Would you still spend time thinking about psychology and working on the questions it asks if you weren’t going to be paid (or paid someday in the future)? You have to study psychology because you love psychology and wish to understand the human mind, not because you think you’ll make a boatload of money. Extrinsic motivation like financial reward can fizzle out over time and is generally not strong enough to make you persevere through the hard parts.