I am now officially a graduand of the University of Manchester. I graduate this time next week, on 16th July and I am now reflecting on my experiences of being an undergraduate psychology student. The last three years have been some of the best, yet hardest, years of my life.
There are so many things to learn in relation to student experience – whether you are considering a degree in psychology, or are currently undertaking their degree, or even if you are an academic.
Psychology is one of the most diverse degrees you can study. You have the opportunity to study theory and research, as well as develop practical skills in statistics. This makes psychology somewhat challenging to begin with, due to some crossroads in regards to research methods and statistics, but it is all worth it. The key thing here is that it is challenging to begin with, but it gets better as you go along.
As with any degree, at first, things may seem a bit confusing or a bit difficult, but it is all a learning process. There a few drivers that I think contribute to an excellent student experience.
1. Professional development opportunities
Students should be given the opportunity to lead and be responsible, thus developing the skills that they require beyond higher education that make them suitable for the workplace. Beyond this, they develop a sense of purpose and responsibility, leading to better rates of satisfaction.
2. Peer support
There are subtleties that we need to consider in relation to peer support. Fundamentally, peer support is twofold. In the first instance, it relates to the point above in that students can become peer mentors or student coordinators and have the opportunity to help others to better themselves. Secondly, students benefit from peer support as recipients, especially those who are just starting out at university and trying to find their feet, which can sometimes be a challenging task.
3. Interdisciplinary learning
Learning outside of your degree is super important, so any chance you get you should definitely take up. As with every subject, there will be bits you love and bits you don’t. For example, I love anything to do with applied social psychology or implicit cognition, but I am not the biggest fan of the sensation, perception and action. So, when the modules relating to things I didn’t like came up, I swapped them – I remember doing a really good unit about science policy and another on leadership in the workplace. This year I even did my A1 Start Deutsch Goethe-Institut examination and received a certificate that I am proficient in German to an A1 level. Languages are obviously desirable from an employment perspective, but now I also have a foundation to keep learning until I get to a higher level. I was never the best at in school, so it gave me the opportunity to rediscover this and give it another go.
5. Staff support
Having a member of staff to support you during your time at university is important. They’ve been there, they’ve done a degree, they know the programme you’re studying really well too. Make every use of your assigned member of staff, they will prove to be an invaluable source of support during the course of your degree.
As I move on to study for my MSc in Organisational Psychology, I can look back and know I managed to be successful because of those four key things throughout the course of my degree. Sometimes times can get tough – but you have to power on and think of how far you’ve already come and have that faith in yourself.
Callum Mogridge is an undergraduate psychology student at the University of Manchester. He leads the peer support on the degree programme.