I am currently enrolled in the master’s degree program at Middle Tennessee State University. I am a part of their experimental psychology program under Professor William Langston. If all goes according to plan, I will graduate in two years with my master’s degree and either continue my education with a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology or enter the workforce.
Consider 318 the boot camp for graduate school. If you can make it through that, you can make it through graduate school. Don’t miss out just because it’s hard. I would also suggest that you take Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Buckelew and Physiology with Ms. Connell, as much of their classes will be repeated later on the line. Don’t be afraid to sign up for the psychology classes not normally offered. I took Clinical Neuropsychology with Dr. Merwin senior year and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a psychology class. If you can after that, take classes on SPSS. It’s not going to go away and you will thank yourself later for the familiarity with the program.
Next, get to know your teachers. Trust me, it helps more than you think. They have a lot of information that can help you. Don’t forget that they’ve been in the same situation as you at one point in time. They can offer insight into your classes and even suggest readings that might help you get a grip on the subject. Plus, it makes classes much more friendly when you can crack a joke or get the humor each one of them pours into their class from time to time.
Get involved with things! I cannot tell you how useful seemingly unrelated skills have been in my graduate career. I was in a leadership position in the Student Activities Council, Psi Chi, Psychology Club and a handful of others. Being active makes connections that will definitely help later in your career. SAC helped me be more comfortable with crowds and helped me foster leadership abilities of leadership. Psi Chi and Psychology Club helped me get to a convention or two and definitely helped me get organized.
Finally, research. Nothing you will do as an undergraduate will be as important as what you do in research. I was significantly better equipped than some of my incoming peers because of my involvement with research under Dr. Buckelew. While I was working with her, I accepted any task, any challenge, and learned as many skills as I could get my hands on. I even took on side projects like working with the EEG equipment and making posters. I logged more hours in the lab than even the lab tech. As a result, I was an exciting prospect when I applied for gradate schools. Do anything and everything you can, and you will quickly find there is nothing you can’t handle. At the time, I’m glad I challenged myself to do so much because if I laid back and just let things float by, I might not be working with the professor I am now and I wouldn’t know SPSS as well as I do.
Get involved with as many things as you can possibly handle. Don’t overload yourself, but if you find yourself surfing the Internet for five hours after classes, there are definitely better uses of your time. Talk to the professors; get involved with research. If someone has a skill unique to the department, go and learn what you can of that skill. Volunteer for whatever you can. It sounds insane and to be honest you’ll be stressed out a majority of the time, but the skills you will gain will be incredible. You will become more equipped to handle a job or gradate school than you could imagine, and believe it or not, what you will learn will mesh well with your classes and boost your grades. Also, cheer up! Make friends. Talk to strangers. Expand your world, and remember that you only get out of college what you put into it.