Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

By Steven Walfish; Allen K. Hess | Go to book overview

2
Pursuing a Career with a Bachelor's
Degree in Psychology
Mark E. Ware

Given the title of this book, the title and contents of this chapter may seem anomalous. Nevertheless, the editors recognized that many psychology students would be well served by information about viable alternatives to graduate education.

Sometimes I have tried to imagine what takes place when undergraduates, bursting with excitement, approach their parents, friends, and faculty with the significant life decision of majoring in psychology. To assist me in that effort, I conducted a survey (Ware, 1991) of 225 students from one private and one public university, asking if they had ever heard the following statement: “You can't get a job with a psychology major.” More than one third of the freshmen and sophomores and more than 80% of the juniors and seniors reported that they had heard such a statement. As many as 50% of the students reported that they had heard both faculty and students say that you could not get a job with a psychology major. Although some students received support and encouragement, many were challenged, discouraged, and ridiculed. Swanson and Tokar (1991) found that students cited family and friends among the most frequent barriers to choosing a major or career and provided results consistent with my observations. The data also indicated that lack of information and lack of capability were the only barriers that students identified more frequently than family and friends.

The problem seems quite clear. Many students hear that they are pursuing a degree that has no future and report that they possess limited skills. The purpose of this chapter is to provide students with information and strategies that correct these gross misrepresentations and facilitate pursuit of employment with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

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