Why are students interested in majoring in psychology? A dive into one of the most popular majors

by Karina Aguilar / Staff Reporter

Unemployment for psychologists is as low as 1.6 percent, according to the American Psychological Association. Photo courtesy of unsplash.com.

According to the American Psychological Association, psychology was the fourth most popular major in the 2016-17 academic year. It also reported that the unemployment rate for psychologists was very low — as low as 1.6 percent for psychology research doctorates in 2013. Although there is no single factor that leads to psychology being such a popular major, the low unemployment rate and flexible career path may be a part of the appeal.

Psychology presents students with a lot of possible career options. Students have the opportunity to become a therapist, professor, forensic psychologist or even an industrial and organizational psychologist. According to careersinpsychology.org, the possibilities are endless as a psychology major.

“The blessing and the curse of psychology is that it’s such a wide-open thing,” said Dr. Jill Coleman, a professor that has taught at Roosevelt University for 11 years. “There are a lot of things you can do with it but at the same time, it can be difficult because there is not a very clear path everyone goes down.”

Although it can be difficult to find a perfectly paved path to a specific career in psychology, the benefits seem to be worth the amount of work.

Professor Steven Meyers sent out a survey to all undergraduate psychology majors last year to find out what some of those benefits might be. 

“They highlighted the quality of their psychology professors, the thought-provoking discussions and activities that occur in the classes, how the material is applicable to different situations, the volunteer opportunities that are part of many of the courses and the variety of topics in our curriculum,” said Meyers.

It is possible that the job prospects, intriguing classes and variety of careers are the main reasons that psychology has remained a popular major for many generations.

Since psychology covers a wide range of topics, it can help prepare students for any career they may choose. Many psychology majors find their love for the field quite early on. According to the American Psychological Association, AP Psychology was the fifth largest out of 38 AP subject exams in 2018. One of those students was Carleen Jones, a sophomore psychology major at Roosevelt.

“I chose psychology because I took a psychology class in high school and I really enjoyed it,” said Jones. “It never felt like work to me. I found myself always wanting to learn more about every concept. Majoring in psychology in college is like being a kid in a candy shop, there are so many interesting classes.”

Additionally, there appears to be an increasing demand for mental health workers. According to data from the American Psychological Association, the number of Americans seeking mental health services increased from 13 percent of adults in 2004 to 15 percent in 2014.

Some professional psychologists, including Dr. Jill Coleman, have also noticed a similar trend.

“I think the more degrees you get and the higher degrees you get there are definitely jobs out there. There are a lot of people struggling with mental health issues in Chicago, in Illinois, and nationwide and there’s just an ever-increasing demand for mental health care,” said Coleman.



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