Extracurriculars and Opportunities for Psychology Majors
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by two psychology majors, Elysia and Kristen, in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- How to Decide Which High School Activities to Participate In
- Opportunities for Prospective Psychology Majors
- How to Connect Other Activities to Psychology
How to Decide Which High School Activities to Participate In
High school students who want to major in psychology often wonder what relevant activities they can participate in to demonstrate this interest to admissions officers. But the best thing that you can do is participate in activities that excite you rather than those you think an admissions officer might want to hear about.
If you participate in an activity that you aren’t too invested in just because it might look good on your application, it will show. An inauthentic activity will become obvious when you write about it without any sincere connection or depth. It will showcase you as a student who did something merely to appeal to the admissions committee and not as a person who has a real connection with an interest or a desire for personal growth.
If you participate in things that you’re genuinely passionate about and fascinated by, your application will be more honest and sincere. It will be more fleshed out, and the admissions officers will pick up on your authenticity and personality.
Opportunities for Prospective Psychology Majors
There are many opportunities for high school students interested in the field of psychology.
One great way to get involved in the field is to volunteer. For example, there are many Alzheimer’s disease and dementia centers that welcome and even encourage volunteering. Helping people who have these health conditions is fulfilling work that can also teach you skills important to the field of psychology, such as interacting with psychologically vulnerable populations and understanding the psychological mechanisms behind those diseases.
Another way to gain experience in psychology is to look into educational programs. Besides Advance Placement (AP) Psychology, a class offered by many high schools around the country, there are programs offered by colleges and universities. The American Psychological Association has a list of pre-college summer programs in which you can take college-level psychology courses while still in high school. Some schools even offer college credit for courses taken in such programs.
If you’re having difficulty finding a place to volunteer or take a class, there are still plenty of ways to explore psychology while you’re in high school. You might want to start a Psychology Club at your school if there isn’t one already. A club is a great place to have thoughtful discussions, do meaningful research, and coordinate large-scale volunteer activities. For more ideas, look at this guide to exploring your interest in psychology while in high school.
How to Connect Other Activities to Psychology
Sometimes, major volunteering or pre-college activities might not be accessible to you, but don’t worry. Psychology is a field that many extracurriculars connect to. You can always participate in activities that you’re passionate about and then look at them through a psychological lens in retrospect. Whenever you’re pursuing any opportunity, consider what specifically interests you about it.
For example, you might help out at a daycare or an elementary afterschool program. You may think that it isn’t related to psychology at all, but you just have to look at it through a psychological lens. For example, there are many lessons in developmental psychology that can be learned simply by working with children.
A good exercise is to try to look at every activity that you do through the lens of psychology just to see how they are related. Of course, some things might be a bit of a stretch, but the point is that you can learn to connect your passions to your desired major in a way that you’ll be able to articulate on your college application.
Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests, psychology related or otherwise. Reach out to professors, researchers, and centers that deal with psychology, mental health, or education. Many of these sources of experience are looking for enthusiastic, passionate people to help them carry out their everyday activities. Even if you can’t directly connect the activity to psychology in the end, you will still have found a fascinating and fulfilling opportunity that is sure to be an asset to your college application.