We asked 50 Psychology graduates at varying stages of their careers what their biggest mistakes were at university. Here’s what they had to say. Their answers may surprise you.


1. Not knowing your tutor

You don’t need to Facebook stalk them or bring them fruit on the daily, but ignoring the person who has the ability to help you the most in your academic career is a mistake. He/she will most likely be your referee, so this is one relationship you definitely want to nurture.

I was really jealous of my friend who had formed a great relationship with her tutor from year one. When you start trying in year three, they know you’re just trying to butter them up and it’s all a bit cringe.
— Beth


2. Picking a dissertation topic for the wrong reasons

Many of us geniuses made the mistake of choosing a supervisor who was a bit famous or we chose a new and exciting theory in Psychology with literally zero research behind it. Dumb. Do yourself a favour and write about what you’re passionate about, not what you think will make you stand out. You often then only stand out for the wrong reasons. 

I shudder when I think about how I fought for this Supervisor and he turned out to be totally self-involved. He was only interested in whether I’d read his books and he had no interest in actually helping me or reading my work.
— Greg


3. Not attending your lectures

We’re with you; the allure of your bed is incredibly strong. Sometimes you may not have even seen your bed in a few days. We get it. But we know that if you show up and stay awake long enough to hit “record” on your phone, you’ll thank yourself later. Your lecturers will also notice that you make the effort, even if you struggle to stay awake.

I made it to every lecture second year. I slept in every lecture second year. But not before I hit that “record” button on my iPhone. Yay me!
— Brooke


4. Thinking the only experience worth getting is in a hospital/clinical setting.

Womp, womp. If you want to work in Psychology, the most important qualities you need to possess are strong listening and empathetic skills. You’ll only hone these by working with as many different kinds people as is possible. Whether this is in a restaurant, at a cinema, in retail or as a classroom assistant it’s all relevant because it’s all people.

I worked in a bar all through uni and let me tell you, that was a personality study like no other.
— Daniel


5. Not asking questions

Most people we spoke to said that they were scared to look stupid in front of the class, so they avoided raising their hands to ask questions in lectures. This resulted in misinterpretation of topics and lower marks on assignments. If you’re not comfortable asking in person, make sure you write the question down and email your tutor after the lecture for clarification. That’s what they’re there for!

If you’re thinking it, most likely a lot of other people are too. Be the hero and ask the question.
— Mark


6. Not volunteering from first year

Newsflash! Psychology is a competitive field. These days more and more employers are more interested in your life experience than your education, so get in there early! Elderly care homes, mental health charities and schools for children with special needs – it’s all relevant to Psychology and will give you an automatic leg-up on the competition. 

If you fancy an adventure you can even go abroad to get some much-desired, relevant experience with an organisation like SLV.Global 

You can get more info here: 

Take it from the dudes at Linkedin, volunteering matters.

Everyone has one morning a week they can donate. We all think we’re so busy, but if you use your time wisely it’s actually easy to make it all work.
— Grace


7. Not getting involved with societies or clubs

Joining a society looks great on your CV and it’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals. Members of societies often get first pick of interesting voluntary opportunities on campus and will often get a post before a student who doesn’t belong to a society, as it shows a high level of commitment.

I joined the Psychology Society in my third year of university. I fully credit the friends I made there for my survival and for my First. We were all pretty competitive and that was motivational. We’re not all geeks either. We like to have a good time.
— Penny


8. Not taking care of yourself

You’re a Psychology student, so you totally get how important your mental well-being is, right? LOLZ! We’re all rubbish at taking our own advice, but try to follow these basic tips. 

1. Sleep: get at least 6 hours a night

2. Eat: something, anything, just fuel that sexy brain! 

3. Drink water: hydration for the nation. You need this. Vodka is not water.

My whole first year is a blur of headaches and bars. I lost a lot of memories that year, but somehow I can still remember all the words to Mr. Brightside.
— Kira


9. Not behaving like a customer of the university

Now more than ever, if you are unhappy with the service you are provided, you need to speak up. We’re all far too British and polite to complain, right? That may have been OK when university was free, but that shizz isn’t going to fly now. Screw the manners and demand what you are paying for. That means a high level of tutor support, careers services that actually provide a service and a community that will help you not to only pass your degree, but to succeed afterwards.

My tutor was always handing back our assignments just days before our next one was due. There was never enough time to take the feedback on board and apply it to the next bit of coursework, so I complained and sent a letter to the head of the department. Sure I felt a little shady, but I deserved better and I got it. But I had to speak up.
— Susan


10. Thinking the only reason to study Psychology is to be a Clinical Psychologist

Nope! Many Psych students go into first year thinking this and by third year many students are having an identity crisis, as they’ve discovered that there are a million roads to take in Psychology and they don’t all end in a hospital. You can focus on other aspects of Psychology like Educational Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Applied Psychology, Counselling, Criminology and the list goes on. All of these other avenues are equally exciting and will land you a fascinating career. You do you, Boo.

In second year I decided that I wanted to work with kids with special needs. And I panicked at first. Breaking it to my family that I wasn’t going to be a doctor was a lot easier than I thought and now I love what I do and am way happier than I would have been had a stayed the course because I thought that’s what everyone was expecting of me.
— Zanaya


11. Everything will be OK

Bonus advice! This isn’t a mistake, but too often we forget that we’ll get through this. Following all this advice will help to make your life easier. Learn from our mistakes! We’ve made poor choices so you don’t have to.

I was so stressed out after university, but after a couple of months working part time at a clothing store and applying like mad for support work I managed to land my dream job. That is, until I start my Masters.
— Kemi