Check out these practical tips that could help you succeed in an online psychology degree program.
Facebook creator and former Time Magazine Person of the Year Mark Zuckerberg went to Harvard and majored in psychology – so did Academy Award winner Natalie Portman. Actress Katherine Hepburn and pop singer Gloria Estefan also majored in psychology
From Nobel Prize recipients, including Ivan Pavlov, to innovators such as positive psychology originator Martin Seligman, psychologists have made tremendous contributions to society and to culture.
If you’re a psychology major, you may be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but right now I just want to ace Psych 101 and earn my bachelor’s degree. Then I’ll think about contributing to humanity.”
For those of you who are in the same boat, here are some tips for being a successful psychology student that you can put into action right now. These tips are from Saint Leo’s assistant psychology professor Dr. Shannon Farris.
1. Be resourceful.
Successful psychology students are resourceful, says Dr. Farris. That means plugging into all available academic resources that fit one’s learning style. “Saint Leo offers a ton of academic resources, but often students don’t know the resources exist or where the resources are located.”
For example, you don’t need to be in trouble in a course to take advantage of tutoring. Highly trained tutors from the Saint Leo’s Learning Resource Center (LRC) are available for live, face-to-face tutoring at hours that meet the schedules of busy working adults.
2. Form a study group.
According to Dr. Farris, more and more online students at Saint Leo are forming study groups that meet via Blackboard Collaborate within their eCollege shell. (eCollege is Saint Leo’s learning management system.) “Just ask your instructor to open up a live chat session and away you go,” he said.
Study groups are particularly beneficial for psychology students tackling tough courses in statistics or research methods. It’s a great opportunity to review material before an exam, get feedback on ideas for a paper, or discuss readings and assignments.
3. Reach out to instructors.
Office hours are an excellent way to get to know your professors and receive personal answers to questions. In addition to scheduling traditional office hours when students can reach out by e-mail or phone, more online instructors are holding virtual office hours via Blackboard. “It’s just one way we can keep Saint Leo’s personal, small college feel for our online students,” said Dr. Farris.
4. Attend eCOACH webinars*.
eCOACH Online Learning is a live, interactive web conference series during which Dr. Farris presents students with resources and tips on topics such as researching online, understanding journal articles, writing papers effectively, and developing presentations. eCOACH participants can also receive additional hours of live, online, follow-up support in areas such as APA citation from a tCOACH, a Saint Leo LRC tutor who collaborates with Dr. Farris.
5. Use Turnitin’s Originality Report.
Strong writing skills are key to being a successful psychology student, and with lots of writing assignments, there’s plenty of opportunity to continually polish and strengthen those skills. When instructors use Turnitin for assignment submissions, they are allowing students to not only check the originality content of their papers, but they are also providing an opportunity for students to improve their writing skills by analyzing valuable feedback via instructor’s comments and peer reviews.
6. Subscribe to the APA Style Blog.
One of the challenges of being a first-year psychology student is learning to write according to the official style of the American Psychological Association (APA) when citing references. The APA Style Blog features posts about usage, grammar, and technical issues, as well as the most recent trends, such as how to cite social media posts and online conversations. You can also get updates on all things APA by connecting with APA via Twitter or Facebook. And, of course, above all else, you should bookmark the APA website, itself.
7. Use APA templates.
Spend more of your valuable time on research and writing and less time formatting citations by using shortcuts such as APA templates. Templates are available in Microsoft Word, and many instructors download them into Saint Leo’s learning management system, eCollege, for easy student access. According to Dr. Farris, many students forget to utilize the document sharing function in eCollege, where faculty often place valuable resources.
8. Be open to applying what you learn.
Finally, one of the most important things that students need to do to be successful when studying psychology, says Dr. Farris, is to be willing to dig deep, reflect, and apply the psychological principals, theories, and concepts learned about in the course to their own lives.
“You can’t remain detached and objective when studying psychology,” said Dr. Farris. “Many assignments require you to apply what you learn to yourself, family members, and co-workers, in your personal life and in your career. So, you have to be willing to self-reflect, to get involved and challenge yourself.”
*While eCOACH is no longer available, online students can click here for more information regarding tutoring services that are available through the Learning Resource Center.
Do you have any other tips for other psychology students on how to be successful?
Image Credit: Digital Sextant