Switching Majors: From Cautious to Confident
When I started my first semester at Kent State, I wasn’t a Psychology major. I was a Journalism major who was interested in psychology. But, by the end of my first semester, I knew that journalism wasn’t for me, so I switched my major. Although it felt right and I was really happy with my decision, there was a part of me that was nervous.
Up until that point, all of my psychological knowledge was informal, gleaned from documentaries and articles; what if I was just chasing after something I was superficially interested in?
The first time I took a 2000s level course though, I knew that I had made the right decision. It was Honors Child Psychology, and I loved that class. It was a very interesting topic and I particularly enjoyed it when my professor spoke about her experiences in researching some of the topics covered in class. I remember sitting there, feeling awe-struck. That’s exactly what I wanted – a chance to be able to see what psychology looked like in practice.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to get involved when she mentioned that her lab was looking for research assistants.
I won’t lie. I was nervous about applying because I had never been a research assistant before. Thankfully, the graduate students in my lab were kind and helped me get acclimated. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have their guidance those first few weeks, because the learning curve was steep for me.
I didn’t know what an Institutional Review Board was until I needed to be approved by one. Now that I’ve been a research assistant for one semester, I feel like I have worlds of knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to get in any lecture. I firmly believe it enriched my education because I got to see the very concepts I was learning about in class be used in the work I was doing.
It is exciting to know that I’m contributing to something bigger, something that could potentially change the way we view the world.
I feel more capable and confident as a result. For instance, while I wanted to graduate with an Honors diploma, I was originally too daunted by the idea of a senior Honors thesis project to consider it. Now, I’m excited by the prospect, because I know what the process entails and now I know people I can ask for guidance.
Now, I’m mostly overwhelmed by the opportunities before me, both on a small and grander scheme. I’m excited to choose a topic for my thesis project because it gives me a chance to work on something that I care about.
I’m also excited because I’m considering pursuing a Ph.D., and an Honors thesis project will be a test run for what I hope to do in the future.
I’m so glad that I decided to become a research assistant because it ultimately changed my life for the better. My experience with it has given me the curiosity and the confidence to aim higher and pursue new things.