The Student Room Group

Is picking psychology as a degree a mistake?

I have always wanted to do psychology as a degree but my mom always told me that it’s not a good degree as I’m not guaranteed a job. I then decided on medicine and then computer science and the architecture and then dentistry and the list goes on….

But then I became really set on dentistry. I have moved to Scotland around that time and I knew absolutely nothing about the system and did not get proper help or anything.
When I got my Scottish Higher grades I was disappointed as I got one mark off an a for chemistry, which was needed as an A in higher level as an entry requirement for dentistry in Scotland. I got an A in bio, ESOL, maths, a B in chemistry and failed CS.

After reassessing my options, I was conflicted between psychology and architecture but opted for psychology and ended up applying for that. The plan is to become a clinical psychologist but after applying, I started to become unsure as I keep reading that it’s hard to get a phd in clinical psychology and getting a job is hard as well and I’m just so conflicted. Do I change my degree? I’m not sure what to do!

I need serious help!! It’s stressing me out so much

Thanks
Reply 1
stick with psychology. i know the feeling - it's the most frustrating thing, thinking about the credibility of your degree. but just ignore that for a second and think: 'do i like psychology?' 'do i want to learn more about the subject?'. as superficial as this sounds, if you actually enjoy your degree, nothing else really matters. i see undergraduate degrees as simply exploring + learning more about yourself; you're only 18, how are you supposed to know how you're going to spend the rest of your life?!
if you're concerned about psychology because it's hard to get a PhD or a job, stop being silly!! nowadays, everything is hard - only when you really want something and work hard for it, you will achieve it.
Reply 2
Original post by aloevera4
stick with psychology. i know the feeling - it's the most frustrating thing, thinking about the credibility of your degree. but just ignore that for a second and think: 'do i like psychology?' 'do i want to learn more about the subject?'. as superficial as this sounds, if you actually enjoy your degree, nothing else really matters. i see undergraduate degrees as simply exploring + learning more about yourself; you're only 18, how are you supposed to know how you're going to spend the rest of your life?!
if you're concerned about psychology because it's hard to get a PhD or a job, stop being silly!! nowadays, everything is hard - only when you really want something and work hard for it, you will achieve it.

i do like psychology and i truly think i’ll enjoy studying it but i can’t help but think about the future of it as a job, if u get what i mean..But thank u so much!! this made me feel a bit better about it, i really appreciate it! have a great day :smile:
I agree with the above! Its fantastic that you are enjoying studying it - the harder you work at something, the better you get at it. Being a psychology student in my 3rd year now, I've come to realise from meeting other students that its a common worry, no matter what degree you're studying!

Psychology is a continually developing discipline, there are more and more jobs coming out. For example, trainee CAAP (Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology) roles are a very new career/apprenticeship route after university that has only been around for a year.

I think if you are really worried, it's important to contact your career services at university - they can be really helpful and help you give a sense of direction.

I hope that helped!

~ Fatiha, Cardiff University Student Rep
Reply 4
Original post by Sahriii
I have always wanted to do psychology as a degree but my mom always told me that it’s not a good degree as I’m not guaranteed a job. I then decided on medicine and then computer science and the architecture and then dentistry and the list goes on….

But then I became really set on dentistry. I have moved to Scotland around that time and I knew absolutely nothing about the system and did not get proper help or anything.
When I got my Scottish Higher grades I was disappointed as I got one mark off an a for chemistry, which was needed as an A in higher level as an entry requirement for dentistry in Scotland. I got an A in bio, ESOL, maths, a B in chemistry and failed CS.

After reassessing my options, I was conflicted between psychology and architecture but opted for psychology and ended up applying for that. The plan is to become a clinical psychologist but after applying, I started to become unsure as I keep reading that it’s hard to get a phd in clinical psychology and getting a job is hard as well and I’m just so conflicted. Do I change my degree? I’m not sure what to do!

I need serious help!! It’s stressing me out so much

Thanks

Hi there!

It sounds like you’ve tried a variety of subjects over a few years and you would really like to study Psychology. I haven’t personally studied in Scotland before, but my understanding is that an undergrad there is 4 years (tho you could direct enter in second year if you meet criteria and would like to). In the first year, students do about half of their courses from their subject and then they can also try out courses from other disciplines. After the first year they can make a more informed decision based on their experience if they’d like to continue with their main subject or something else they enjoy. So this might be a good way to try out psychology at university.

Becoming a clinical psychologist is not the ultimate and only thing you can pursue with a psychology degree, although you can pursue that if you wish. You can also enter research in academia or research in industry, consulting jobs, become a policy analyst, etc. There’re jobs that have a stronger statistical component that you can still compete for with a psychology degree, tho you’d most likely have to work out your statistical muscle beyond what the psychology degree would normally train you.

A lot of your opportunities depend on having good grades (graduate with a First or higher 2.1), the experiences you acquire during your degree (e.g. research assistant, doing summer jobs, doing programming courses), and learning how to best present yourself, your qualifications, experiences given the job descriptions. The salary for entry jobs for a Psychology degree is probably a few thousand pounds lower than for a Mathematics or Computer Science degree. However, my personal view is that one should study a subject that they are passionate about the most which is what will ultimately drive you to do well in your studies and your job.

You can also try a mental exercise. Imagine there’re huge piles of books in front of you that you really do have to read in three years time. Do you think you’d enjoy them better if they were Psychology books or Dentistry (etc.) books? This might be the answer for you whether you should study psychology at university.

If you decide to study Psychology, one piece of specific advice I’d like to give is to make sure you take learning statistics and programming seriously and try to be good at it. Some psychology students are somewhat intimidated by statistics and I think that statistics is not that strong in psychology degrees, certainly not as strong as in mathematics degrees. I found statistics and programming skills rather invaluable and will widen your horizons in terms of better understanding psychology research and job prospects.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 5
Original post by CardiffUni Rep 2
I agree with the above! Its fantastic that you are enjoying studying it - the harder you work at something, the better you get at it. Being a psychology student in my 3rd year now, I've come to realise from meeting other students that its a common worry, no matter what degree you're studying!

Psychology is a continually developing discipline, there are more and more jobs coming out. For example, trainee CAAP (Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology) roles are a very new career/apprenticeship route after university that has only been around for a year.

I think if you are really worried, it's important to contact your career services at university - they can be really helpful and help you give a sense of direction.

I hope that helped!

~ Fatiha, Cardiff University Student Rep

That's a relief! I'll take your advice and talk to my career adviser and it made me feel a bit better knowing that the struggle is shared amongst other degrees as well! Thank you for your reply, it's much appreciated :smile:
Reply 6
Original post by Jedi BB-8
Hi there!

It sounds like you’ve tried a variety of subjects over a few years and you would really like to study Psychology. I haven’t personally studied in Scotland before, but my understanding is that an undergrad there is 4 years (tho you could direct enter in second year if you meet criteria and would like to). In the first year, students do about half of their courses from their subject and then they can also try out courses from other disciplines. After the first year they can make a more informed decision based on their experience if they’d like to continue with their main subject or something else they enjoy. So this might be a good way to try out psychology at university.

Becoming a clinical psychologist is not the ultimate and only thing you can pursue with a psychology degree, although you can pursue that if you wish. You can also enter research in academia or research in industry, consulting jobs, become a policy analyst, etc. There’re jobs that have a stronger statistical component that you can still compete for with a psychology degree, tho you’d most likely have to work out your statistical muscle beyond what the psychology degree would normally train you.

A lot of your opportunities depend on having good grades (graduate with a First or higher 2.1), the experiences you acquire during your degree (e.g. research assistant, doing summer jobs, doing programming courses), and learning how to best present yourself, your qualifications, experiences given the job descriptions. The salary for entry jobs for a Psychology degree is probably a few thousand pounds lower than for a Mathematics or Computer Science degree. However, my personal view is that one should study a subject that they are passionate about the most which is what will ultimately drive you to do well in your studies and your job.

You can also try a mental exercise. Imagine there’re huge piles of books in front of you that you really do have to read in three years time. Do you think you’d enjoy them better if they were Psychology books or Dentistry (etc.) books? This might be the answer for you whether you should study psychology at university.

If you decide to study Psychology, one piece of specific advice I’d like to give is to make sure you take learning statistics and programming seriously and try to be good at it. Some psychology students are somewhat intimidated by statistics and I think that statistics is not that strong in psychology degrees, certainly not as strong as in mathematics degrees. I found statistics and programming skills rather invaluable and will widen your horizons in terms of better understanding psychology research and job prospects.

Hi! Im relatively new to Scotland as well so I know absolutely nothing about their university system yet and haven't had the time to read about it, but from what you're saying, I think I like the sound of being able to experience other subjects and well.

I think clinical psychology appeals to me as it's something I've always wanted to work with--assessing and diagnosing people and providing them with a treatment it something I have been always passionate about no matter how I look at it, hence the fact that I want to specialise in clinical psychology but I do think that I will have a look on other specialties as well, so thank you for mentioning that.

as for statistics, I LOVE maths (I know I sound like a nerd but it is true!) and I'm good at it so I wouldn't say that im particularly weak in that area but I will still do as you said and try to strengthen it as much as possible. I did mention that I have failed CS but it was because the language was relatively new and I have taken the subject at higher level (which is a bit less than an A-level) but again, I'll take your advice and work on my programming skills by using an easier language such as python

thank you so much for your reply!! I feel a sense of relief knowing that after all I might have made the right decision by studying psychology, have a great day!! :smile:
Reply 7
Another option you might consider looking into is doing a Psychology degree with an integrated year where after your second year and before your third year of studies, you’d spend about a year working and gaining experience in a job you find relevant for your career interests.

I don’t know if they exist in Scotland, however I’ve seen this type of degrees at unis in England. A number of people from a variety of subjects do them because it enables them to gain work experience before they graduate and so they are more competitive on the job market when they finish degree. Perhaps you might be able to find a work placement related to clinical psychology elements and gain some relevant experience towards your career interest. I don’t know much about integrated degrees, for instance, whether you receive help finding work placements, at some universities you might, perhaps you might have to search them yourself, and I’m not sure if they are paid, perhaps at least some of them are. You’d have to look into it... They might mean an additional year of student loan and therefore more student debt...

I think in Psychology discipline, Python and R programming languages are most used, and some people also use MatLab.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 8
im not sure about the integrated degree as Ive never heard of that in Scotland but I'll still have a look at it. I'll also start having a look at the programming languages you mentioned. thank you so much for your help!!!!!!! have a great day or night :smile:
Original post by Sahriii
I have always wanted to do psychology as a degree but my mom always told me that it’s not a good degree as I’m not guaranteed a job. I then decided on medicine and then computer science and the architecture and then dentistry and the list goes on….

But then I became really set on dentistry. I have moved to Scotland around that time and I knew absolutely nothing about the system and did not get proper help or anything.
When I got my Scottish Higher grades I was disappointed as I got one mark off an a for chemistry, which was needed as an A in higher level as an entry requirement for dentistry in Scotland. I got an A in bio, ESOL, maths, a B in chemistry and failed CS.

After reassessing my options, I was conflicted between psychology and architecture but opted for psychology and ended up applying for that. The plan is to become a clinical psychologist but after applying, I started to become unsure as I keep reading that it’s hard to get a phd in clinical psychology and getting a job is hard as well and I’m just so conflicted. Do I change my degree? I’m not sure what to do!

I need serious help!! It’s stressing me out so much

Thanks

Hi! The first piece of advice I always give to new students is that there is very little point studying a subject you don't enjoy. Its very easy to get burnt out if you lack interest in your studies, so I think its great that you chose the degree you originally wanted to do! Psychology is a great degree in that it is very flexible in the areas you can progress to. If you want to become a clinical psychologist, you would have to do a DClinPsy which is quite competitive to get into, however, if you get good grades and the required work experience then you have a fair shot at getting onto the course just as any other applicant.
You can take a year or more out of education after completing your degree to gain this work experience, during which you can decide fully on what you want to do! It may be that you decide clinical isn't for you, and that is totally okay because psychology can be applied to many other industries and areas.
Never let anyone tell you psychology isn't a worthy degree!
-Kat (2nd year psychology undergraduate at Lancaster University)
Original post by Sahriii
I have always wanted to do psychology as a degree but my mom always told me that it’s not a good degree as I’m not guaranteed a job. I then decided on medicine and then computer science and the architecture and then dentistry and the list goes on….

But then I became really set on dentistry. I have moved to Scotland around that time and I knew absolutely nothing about the system and did not get proper help or anything.
When I got my Scottish Higher grades I was disappointed as I got one mark off an a for chemistry, which was needed as an A in higher level as an entry requirement for dentistry in Scotland. I got an A in bio, ESOL, maths, a B in chemistry and failed CS.

After reassessing my options, I was conflicted between psychology and architecture but opted for psychology and ended up applying for that. The plan is to become a clinical psychologist but after applying, I started to become unsure as I keep reading that it’s hard to get a phd in clinical psychology and getting a job is hard as well and I’m just so conflicted. Do I change my degree? I’m not sure what to do!

I need serious help!! It’s stressing me out so much

Thanks

Hi Sahriii,

I agree that psychology is a fantastic area to study. I know I constantly change my mind about what I would like to do for a career, and a degree in psychology can help you enter lots of different fields. Clinical psychology is a very popular path, but that means it is also very well supported. I would say you should choose an area that interests you the most. You don't want to end up studying a topic that you have no interest in as you may be limited in motivation. I agree it might be worthwhile contacting someone at school who can advise how your skills may relate to different courses!

best of luck!

Holly
Lancaster Psychology Ambassador

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