Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to go to college full-time and still keep a job?
Working while enrolled in college full-time is not recommended. To get the most out of your education, you will need time to study, to participate in extra-curricular activities, and to take advantage of opportunities available only to students. Every student should be thinking about activities that will impress future employers or graduate school committees, as well as enhance skills and knowledge. Typically, it is not student-level employment positions that impress future employers. What employers and graduate committee members look for are internships, specialty courses, participation in the campus community (e.g., student government, leadership roles, etc) and evidence of academic achievement over and above a GPA (e.g., honor societies and memberships, pre-professional memberships, awards, conferences, etc.). Engaging in such activities and doing well requires time and flexible scheduling. Attending classes and just getting by with studies so that work hours may be met is far from the ideal. It also leaves your reference writers with little to write about and few means to really get to know you and your potential.
What if I have to work in order to afford college?
You are not alone. College is a choice and so sometimes compromises must be made. Being a college student is a full-time "job." Students need to realize that they are investing time and money in their future earning potential and job satisfaction. Doing well these 4 years will greatly impact students' futures. Going to college may mean applying for loans, grants or work-study, borrowing from family members, giving up luxuries. If you must work, work as few hours as possible and not more than 15 per week. If you must work full-time or nearly full-time, consider enrolling in the evening program (DGCE) or go part-time which is one or two courses a semester. This may simply not be the time for college for you.
What if I pay for all my college expenses by credit card. Is that a good idea?
Absolutely not! Credit card interest rates are very high and late fees add on quickly! Use of credit cards for more than you can pay off by the end of the month is an easy way to get into debt you may never escape from! You do not want to work just to pay off credit cards or to graduate with credit debt with no end in sight! College loans, in contrast, have lower interest rates, lower monthly payments and these payments often do not start until after graduation (though interest is still added on). Talk to your family banks before deciding credit cards will be used to pay for tuition and fees.
I hate oral presentations. Is it possible to avoid them as a psychology major?
No. More and more, educators and employers are demanding that people be able to communicate well orally. Practice truly makes perfect in this case. The more students stand before their peers and present, the easier it gets - though maybe not any more enjoyable for some. The majority of the upper-level psychology courses require individual or group oral presentations. Some may be a matter of minutes, others may require presenting for a fair portion of the class meeting. There are many ways to reduce your anxiety:
- Prepare early. Give yourself ample time to learn your topic. The better a topic is known, the easier the words will come out and make sense to you.
- Practice. Rehearse aloud to yourself and then to friends.
- Visit the room after-hours. Get comfortable looking at all the chairs. Imagine your peers and instructor. Stand at the podium. Walk around.
- Use lots of appropriate visual aids. Dim lights can help hide a flushed face or sweaty brow - start with an overhead! Put your title up on the screen, followed by an outline of your information. If that's not possible, prepare handouts - an outline at the least - start your talk by referring to the handout to get some of those eyes off of you!
- Relax before your talk begins - go to the bathroom, take deep breaths, close your eyes, arrive at class early, plan to begin with an overhead and darkened room. Do whatever it takes to calm yourself down.
- Wear your favorite nice clothing. When you dress comfortably, you will be able to relax more easily and feel more confident. It works the other way too - people who look nice are taken more seriously. You will look as if you know what you're saying!
- Don't sweat small mistakes. With the exception of maybe the instructor, no one will know if you make a mistake. Just keep going. If the error was an important point, come back to it as if you never said it before. If the instructor thinks it's important to clarify the error, odds are he/she will do it without drawing attention to what you said.
I have a hard time writing. How important is writing as a psychology major?
Very. It's not just being a psychology major. As a college graduate, certain abilities and behaviors are expected. One of these is that you are more literate than the average person. In applying for jobs and to graduate school, your writing errors will be glaring! Once employed, you will forever be writing - letters, reports, minutes for meetings - the list is endless. You may never have to write another paper for a class, but you will be writing. Errors will be embarrassing and no longer just the cause of a few lost points. Do not graduate from college without learning to write well. Take extra writing classes, pay attention to the editing your instructors provide, and/or take advantage of the services you pay for through your student fees. As a student, you have the luxury of many sources for writing help. Use them!
Where can I go for help with my writing?
In the building housing CASA, the college provides writing tutors. Free of charge, students may make appointments to meet with an instructor or trained tutor to review their writing. It is recommended that students experiencing a lot of difficulty go to the Center as soon as the semester starts. Bring your course requirements with you and any writing on which you have started to work. Students feeling they write fairly well may want to stop by and have a grammar check-up. Bring a paper you feel proud of and have someone find all your errors. A review of the mistakes you commonly make may be invaluable.
Sign-up sheets for Writing Tutor appointments may be made at the front table of the CASA wing.
Appointments may be made on short notice (walk-ins) or by signing up for appointments several weeks in advance.
Is math important as a psychology major?
Math is always important. Basics are used every day. However, the only specific requirement of the psychology major is a course in statistics. The statistics courses at FSU are tough. Talk to students who have completed the course and ask about their instructors. Try to find an instructor whose style of teaching fits yours. Also consider making regular appointments with a math tutor at CASA. As with writing help, the services are free of charge and hours vary from day to evening.
Are high grades really important?
No doubt that we are a country of overly grade-conscious people. GPAs of at least 3.0 are often required for admission into graduate programs. However, when students do their best, seek appropriate help from professors, and show continued improvement, the effort is noticed. Effort may not guarantee high course grades or overall GPAs, but effort does show up in letters of recommendation. "Glowing" letters paired with good scores on standardized tests (such as the Graduate Record Exam or GRE) may still get students with mediocre GPAs into graduate programs or open doors to other desired opportunities. As a precaution, it wouldn't hurt the ambitious student to re-take courses in which Ds and Fs were earned before graduating!