Looking For Advice? Psychology Professors Give Key Tips to Students
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Have you ever wished you could read your professor’s mind? Have you tried to imagine their thought processes just so you can do well on exams? We understand! That is why we have asked three distinguished psychology professors a pair of vital questions that may help you conquer your college courses.
Our first expert, Dr. Emma Mansour, has a PhD in Counseling Psychology and has taught a range of psychology courses including: Developmental Psychology, Group Counseling, Personality Psychology, and Counseling Skills.
The second expert is Professor Lori Woodring, a psychologist licensed in New York and Connecticut. Woodring received her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and her graduate degrees (MS, PD, and PhD) from Fordham University. She has taught in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham (NYC) for a number of years.
Finally, we spoke with Professor Leslie Davenport. Davenport has practiced as a Marriage and Family Therapist for more than two decades and also teaches at two universities and is a published author.
Question 1: How Do I Make Sure That You Notice Me and See Me as a Good Student?
Mansour: The student that stands out in class is the student that asks questions to clarify something they are being taught or because they want to know more about the topic. I am always impressed when a student asks a question that indicates they have read the material and are thinking critically about the information. When I have been asked to write letters of recommendation for students, I want to be able to say that they have demonstrated the ability to think critically about issues.
Woodring: What makes a student stand out in class is their ability to think about psychology on a deeper level by asking probing questions and demonstrating knowledge of the reading and research. On a more advanced level, psychology professors strive to develop students who are research-practitioners; meaning they can apply the research to practice. Thus, students who can think along these lines will stand out.
Davenport: Be engaged. You don’t have to know all the answers, but a deep interest and curiosity will make the material come alive in the classroom.
Question 2: What Advice Would You Give a Student Majoring in Psychology?
Mansour: Psychology is a very diverse subject and not all of the topics covered will be interesting. However, it is helpful to find an area of psychology you are passionate about and take your learning outside of the classroom. Search the topics online, read books that are not assigned in class and find local associations/psychology chapters that share information in that area.
Woodring: Get involved in internships and research studies to learn more about the opportunities available as well as your personal strengths and affinities. When considering graduate school (a must for any psychology student) do your homework and explore all of the fields and possibilities.
Davenport: There is often a desire and a pressure to understand it all at the beginning. Trust that it is a lifelong learning process, and you can gradually build on your knowledge base. It’s a long but rewarding road.
In the spirit of “cheat sheets” here is a quick review of how our experts responded:
How to Be Recognized and Considered A "Good" Student
- Ask questions.
- Seek to clarify topics.
- Read all assigned materials.
- Think critically about course content.
- Be a student the professor would be happy to recommend for a job.
- Be able to take research and apply it to methods of practice.
- Nurture within yourself a deep interest and curiosity in the class content in order to make it (and you) come alive.
Expert Advice for Psychology Students
- Discover the area of psychology for which you have a passion.
- Learn outside of the classroom by using additional books and the internet.
- Find local associations/psychology chapters and discover the information they have available for students.
- Get involved in internships.
- Participate in research studies.
- Prior to enrolling in graduate school, explore all aspects of a career in psychology.
- Realize that this is a lifelong learning process.
- Be patient.
You are on an amazing path which will lead you to a fulfilling and meaningful career. Refuse to feel pressured by imagined difficulties and obstacles. Allow yourself the time to grow into your profession; it’s quite possible that one day you will be offering ambitious students the tips which helped you earn your degrees and flourish as a psychologist.