Sure, psychology sounds like a great subject to study! The inner workings of one’s mind is an endlessly fascinating topic and sure to keep you interested for the three or four years of your undergrad, but what did you wish you knew before you took your first step on your journey to becoming the next Sigmund or Anna Freud? We asked 100 Psychology students and graduates to find out.

1. Statistics.

Wait...so I have to Math? Yes. Your degree will be chock-full of tricky equations and your research full of variables which need to be vigorously tested. Statistics is a necessary evil when it comes to testing any psychological theories. However, without it we would all just be hypothesising and making assumptions without adequate evidence and that’s just not science!  

Hang in there! Although this is what most people said was their least favourite aspect of their psychology degree, they also all agreed that it ended up being useful, especially during their dissertation. Special shout out to those who have pursued a career in psychological research and learned to love those slippery stats! We salute you!

2. It’s super competitive.

Psychology is consistently amongst the top three most popular university courses in the UK.  With more than 80,000 applications annually, you’ve chosen to enter a field with a huge amount of competition. The good news is that there are SO many incredible things you can do with a psychology degree. But if you’re thinking of going the clinical route, be prepared to make yourself stand out in whatever way possible.

In 2017 just 15% of applicants were awarded a place on the NHS clinical psychology training program in the UK. Everyone we spoke to agreed that it’s highly unlikely to be awarded a place straight out of university if you don’t have any hands-on experience in the sector to help your application. This is why so many psychology students participate in voluntary work, both to beef up their CVs and to give them the knowledge to set their applications apart.

Our placements offer plenty of hands-on experience in the mental health sector and every question on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate Application can be answered by referring to the work you do on placement.

3. Everyone will ask you if you can read their minds.

This was unanimous amongst the 100 we polled. Seems it never gets old for the people asking you, “so what am I thinking?” But man, does it get boring after the first 1,000 times you hear it. Try and take it in your stride and think of a witty comeback, like asking them to stop picturing you in your pants.

4. It’s not as glamorous as it looks on TV.

If you grew up on shows like Frasier or the Sopranos, and more recently Gypsy, it’s likely you have a preconceived idea of what a psychologist “does”. Unsurprisingly none of the people we spoke to have a couch in their office where their clients purge their innermost secrets and all is solved within 60 minutes.

From healthcare assistants to support workers and practicing clinicians, everyone we spoke to agreed that American TV series’ are flat out lying to us. That’s not to say that a career in mental health can’t be hugely fulfilling and exciting, it’s just not what we’ve all come to expect from popular culture’s portrayal of therapy.

5. You can do anything you want from here.

As mentioned earlier, there are so many thrilling and rewarding careers you can pursue with a psychology degree. In fact, about 35% of people we spoke with decided to go a totally different route with their degrees and went into teaching or social work. Some other awesome professional options open to those with a psychology degree who aren’t keen on clinical are:

  • Neuropsychological research

  • Developmental psychology

  • Community psychology

  • Educational and development psychology

  • Psychotherapy

  • Human resources

  • Business management

Our placements offer a unique opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients in diverse settings, so if you haven’t 100% designed your future why not come away with us to a beautiful destination and try on a few different options? You never know what might fit.