Inside the Life of a Psychology Student – Larissa Grundmanis (#1)

These series of articles are going to be based upon interviews with psychology students, we’ll be asking these students about their courses, what they like and dislike, how to succeed, and career information. For anyone currently considering, or actually studying, psychology these will be very helpful! Let us know what you would like asking for future interviews in the comments!

Let me introduce the first interviewee. Larissa Grundmanis is a student studying for her Bachelor’s degree in psychology with two minors: law and society, and ethics and philosophy. She is a 3rd year student, who has senior status and is set to graduate in May. Her main university is Michigan Technological University but she has also taken courses at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Century College – both of which are in Minnesota.

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We asked Larissa about the specific course at her specific university.

Us: What’s the programme like, and what does it cost?

LG: The program is extremely good, especially for being based in an engineering school. However, the program is directed more towards human-factors and cognitive research. Even so, there are plenty of courses that deal with other topics in psychology such as Social Psychology. As an in-state resident the cost of attendance is slightly reasonable (roughly $14,000 a year, if out of the dorms. If in the dorms, roughly $28,000 a year) but it is less acceptable as an out-of-state resident (roughly $34,000 if out of the dorms and $43,000 if in the dorm per year). If someone is an out-of-state citizen I personally feel as though there are other programs that will give the same, if not better, education (depending on one’s area of interest).

Us: How’s the education there?

LG: The education is extremely good. I do not necessarily feel as though I’m any smarter than the average senior psychology student, but when I compare my education to my friend’s at other schools, I notice that mine has exceeded theirs in various ways. The classes are definitely reasonable, even though some may seem like busy-work. However, psychology majors have some of the greatest levels of freedom throughout Michigan Tech in terms of what classes to take. While I do not know how many free credits incoming psychology majors have, when I began the program I had 37 free credits to fill, meaning that I was able to take any course of my liking. With those free credits it is extremely easy to obtain at least one minor, which ultimately helps increase one’s level of knowledge. While there are required psychology courses that are less fun to take, it is extremely difficult to not learn anything from those courses. Tech is also a heavily research-based school and psychology majors are given many research opportunities and even have a class devoted to performing their own research project.

Us: Who’s your favourite lecturer?

LG: At Tech my favorite professor is Dr. Adam Feltz. He deals a lot with ethics in psychology and is known as a philosophical researcher in the psychology field amongst many students.

Us: And your favourite module?

LG: My favorite courses that I have taken here so far have included Social Psychology and the Psychology of Death and Dying. Social Psychology is exactly what it sounds like and deals solely with social psych principles. The Psychology of Death and Dying appears to be a depressing class on the surface, but it deals with the different definitions of death and how those play into ethical and moral standards of various individuals, how different individuals and cultures react to death, and the examination of one’s personal thoughts of death and dying.

Also, we asked her about her career aims, and her advice on studying, both in general and psychology.

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Us: What’s your goals in terms of career? 

LG: In terms of career I wish to one day become a forensic psychologist. However, in order to obtain that status I need to first become a clinical psychologist for several years. From everyone I have spoken to it seems that becoming a clinical psychologist is the first step to becoming a forensic psychologist. There are very few programs here that have established a lone forensic program and most places that offer any type of forensic-based program merely has a focus in it – at least in terms of psychology.

Us: What advice would you give to aspiring psych2go students? 

LG: Students who wish to go into the field of psychology, or really any field, should not slack off. My first semester here I don’t believe I fully understood what I was getting into or why college was as important as it is. Since then my grades have gotten better, my GPA has increased, and my level of sanity has stayed about the same. Colleges and universities are difficult and it is very tedious and hard to get any slack from professors. While professors do ultimately want students to succeed, they also only care so much about you. If they notice that you don’t put effort into your work they will be less inclined to extend due dates, email students back, or meet with students outside of office hours. Going along with that, go to office hours if your professor offers them. Professor’s offer these times so that students have at least one more resource to help them in their studies, and I have never felt disappointed or as though I wasted my time after attending them. It is also incredibly helpful to learn how to study. It took me several semesters to fully know how to study, and even now there are still times that I struggle with it. Studying will help one’s comprehension of the material which ultimately helps one achieve better standings – both academically and with their professors. However, one should also know how to (at least somewhat) properly balance fun and homework time. One cannot spend all of their time doing one or the other and expect to either do well in school or have a good mental state. Also, keep in mind that you’re paying for your classes (depending on where you live). If you don’t take school seriously or just decide to skip classes because you’re “too tired” or you just don’t like the course, you are basically saying that the money that is being invested into one’s college or university education is just being wasted – something that many people don’t actually want to do. Two more things: you are going to school to get an education and you should be a student above anything else (unless you’re trying to get a degree on top of a full-time job). Don’t expect to be able to work constantly and still pull off good grades – your education comes first in these situations for the most part (even on-campus employers will say this). Lastly, grades aren’t everything. Yes, grades are important, especially for graduate school, but one’s worth is not determined by them.

Us: What is one thing students should know about studying at University?

LG: It’s a lot of work. Some people can slack off or just not study and still do fine, but I’ve found that if one really truly wants to do well at University that they need to put in the effort.

And finally, we asked some more general questions around psychology.

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Us: Do you have any criticisms of Psychology as a field of study?

LG: A lot of times it seems that people just do things to get “known”, which is slightly unfortunate. There are also many journal articles with poor spelling or grammar, and with the articles that I have read there is a high likelihood that APA format will barely be followed.

Us: What’s your favourite psychology fact/study?

LG: I’m honestly not sure what my favorite psychology fact or research study is. While I am a big fan of social experiments, such as better understanding the bystander effect, I am not a big fan of Milgram’s Obedience to Authority study. I do find the results fascinating, and perhaps that’s why I enjoy social experiments, but if one were to watch What Would You Do? that has more partial observational-studies that interest me.

Us: Do you regret choosing to study psychology? If so, why, if not, why not?

LG: Personally I do not regret choosing psychology. There are plenty of times that I speak with others and tell them that I honestly cannot see me in any other field. Since I have always been fascinated by people and how interactions work as well as why some people do certain things while others choose other paths, psychology has been able to help me further satisfy my need for knowledge. In addition to that, I actually perform decently when it comes to psychology courses and believe that I understand most of what I need to for this field (with some difficulties with SPSS, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t have difficulties with that?). I also work with international students in many different fields and when they ask about psychology I just become incredibly joyful and giddy, especially when they become surprised at something I tell or show them.

Next week we’ll be interviewing two more Psychology University students! Enjoy

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