1. Education

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Major In Psychology

Signs That Psychology Isn't Right for You

By

psychology major
Image: Bart Coenders/iStockPhoto

Let's face it, psychology can be a fascinating topic but that doesn't mean that it's the best major for everyone. Even if you've had a lifelong love for the subject, you might find that a future in psychology is not necessarily the best choice for you.

Of course, there are plenty of great reasons to earn a psychology degree. Before you commit, let's take a closer look at some of the reasons why perhaps you shouldn't.

You Don't Like Working with People

By its very nature, psychology is a person-oriented profession. Not all career paths in psychology involve counseling clients, but nearly every job option does involve a significant amount of interaction and collaboration with other people. If you are more of the solitary, independent type, you might find the social aspect of psychology to be a real challenge.

You're Only in it for the Money

One of the biggest misunderstandings I find whenever I talk to high school students who are planning to major in psychology is that they expect to start making big bucks immediately after earning their undergraduate degree. Yes, there is certainly the potential to earn a high salary in certain fields. Are those wages the norm? No, and especially not for those without a doctorate degree.

You're Not Good at Handling Stress

Psychologists face stress from a variety of sources. Deadlines, irregular hours, mountains of paperwork, and clients dealing with major life crises are just a few of the things that might put a drain on your emotions. Good stress management skills are essential. While there are things you can do to improve your coping skills, this might not be the best profession for you if you are emotionally unstable or struggle with anxiety.

You Have No Interest in Graduate School

Sure there are plenty of entry-level jobs options with a bachelor's degree. The fact is, however, that if you want better job opportunities and higher pay, then you are going to need a graduate degree. A master's is considered the minimum for many career paths such as counseling, industrial-organizational psychology, school psychology, and health psychology. Careers in clinical psychology require a doctorate degree plus a supervised internship and passage of state and national exams. The educational and training requirements are certainly nothing to sneeze at, so ask yourself if you have the commitment and drive to pursue a graduate degree.

You're Not Passionate About Psychology

I once had a long conversation with a student who was in her third year as a psychology major. When I asked her why she was pursuing a psychology degree, she shrugged and replied, "People always tell me I should be a therapist. I don't know. It just seemed like something that might work for me." When I pressed her further, she admitted that she really didn't care much for the subject, but by that point she felt committed to her path and that it was too late to change her mind.

Don't make the mistake this young woman did. It is never too late to switch gears and change direction. If you suddenly realize that chemistry or microbiology is more in line with your interests and goals, don't hesitate to pursue your dreams. The first thing you need to do is go talk to your academic advisor right away. I can't stress that more strongly. Your advisor can help you devise a plan of action, figure out which courses will fill core requirements for your new major, and help you determine an academic plan that will allow you to accomplish your goals.

In today's unpredictable economy, people often stress the importance of pursuing a career that is best for the current situation. You might feel pressured to pursue a college major or a job path simply because it appears to be the most practical or financially rewarding option. But you should feel excited and passionate about the field you are pursuing.

If psychology is the subject that fosters your enthusiasm, then you should absolutely pursue it with all your heart. But if you're not sure if you're cut out for the educational and professional challenges that this career path presents, then do not hesitate to start looking for other options. This might involves switching to a related field like counseling, social work, or education. Or it might even mean shifting to an entirely different path altogether. No matter what you decide remember that only you determine what the best choice is for your unique situation.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.