Why I went to university to study Psychology

Malaika is a third-year student studying Psychology, who likes watching crime documentaries on Netflix. 

I knew I wanted to go to university from quite early

Portrait of MalaikaThis was because I was really interested in becoming a counsellor – someone who listens to people going through difficult experiences and works with them to find solutions. I liked the idea of helping people and I was interested in mental health, so being a counsellor seemed like a perfect fit!

Now, I want to become a Clinical Psychologist which is similar, but you also do other things like assessments on people and your own research. To become a Counsellor or a Clinical Psychologist, you need a degree (or two), and preferably a degree in Psychology. Thus, it seemed like the natural way forward for me!

Prospects is a really good website about different careers that helped me to figure all of this out.

Plus, I had a genuine interest in the subject. When I first studied Psychology for A levels, not to be dramatic, but I immediately knew I loved the subject. I just found it very fascinating learning about how and why we think, feel and behave the way that we do; the underlying brain mechanisms going on behind this; and how all of this information is used in the real world in different settings with different types of people.  

By the time I had to apply for university, while thinking about career options was still important to me, I was mainly applying because I just really liked the subject. I was sure I would enjoy myself studying this and it made me look forward to going to university even more!  

Things I had to consider

I personally wanted to stay at home when going to university instead of moving out. This was important to consider when deciding where to apply as I didn’t want to spend too much time commuting to university each day. Luckily, there are a lot of universities to choose from in London and most of them offer Psychology as a degree, so I still had plenty of choices! It takes me 45 minutes to get to City from my house which is really good!  

I was a little nervous about making new friends 

Before university, I had stayed at the same secondary school/sixth form for 7 years and so it had been a long time since I needed to meet new people. I was quickly reassured though by the fact that this was going to be a new experience for most people on my course and that we were on the same boat together. 

Looking back, meeting all of these new people wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be and I’ve made so many amazing friends from my course, through joining societies and part-time work! 

What I’m enjoying about my course  

Scientific model of a brainSomething I really like about my course is the variety of topics we study. 

The brain, social behaviour, cognitive processes like memory and reasoning, development across the lifespan – there really is something for everyone and that’s just scratching the surface! 

A great thing about third year is that we can really tailor the degree to our interests, by choosing all of the topics that we study. So, we can focus as much (or as little) othe areas that we want! 

I like the focus on careers and thinking ahead

There are a lot of opportunities to get practical experience by doing work placements – where you spend a period of time working in a field you’re interested in. This can be for a few weeks (what we might call a ‘micro-placement) or even for up to a whole year as part of your degree (a ‘sandwich year’), both of which I’ve taken part in. 

This has helped me to develop a lot of skills, such as communication, teamwork, research skills and even my confidence, and helped focus on my career goals!  

Lastly, I like how my time is organised at university

Usually, I have lectures for 10 hours each week – a huge difference compared to school! – which means I have a lot of time to focus on doing other things that I enjoy (apart from studying of course), like exploring the city or spending time with my family and friends.

This has made my overall university experience a lot more enjoyable! 

Here are some more useful resources about applying for and studying Psychology:

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