“You’re majoring in what?” “We have a psychology program here?” “Why would you waste time on that?” “That’s hilarious!”
These are examples of what I hear every day from my peers. For whatever reason, people find it peculiar that I’d come to Florida Tech only to major in psychology. But, because most people know very little about our psychology program and what it actually entails, the major remains clouded in mystery. I promise you, there is a reason why a lot of people (including me) decided to come to Florida Tech for psychology. So, let me explain just why I decided to go for my degree in psychology at a tech school (I’m not crazy, I promise!)
When I first learned about Florida Tech, my first thought was definitely not that I should transfer here. I didn’t even know about our psychology program until my mom told me about it. Once I learned more, I realized that Florida Tech was the place for me and I didn’t even think about how I was throwing myself into a school full of engineers and physicists.
So, why is my major so awesome? Well, allow me to present some facts about Florida Tech’s psychology program.
Did you know that Florida Tech is one of only a handful of universities in the U.S. and Canada that has a forensic psychology program? Forensic psychology majors get to work in the court systems and learn all about the law and criminals. Lots of them want to work for a government agency like the CIA or the FBI – but don’t make the mistake of calling them profilers. Forensic psychology is super popular here, with about half of all psychology majors being part of the program.
Something else cool about Florida Tech’s psychology program is that all psychology majors must serve an internship to graduate. We can end up anywhere from the world-renowned Scott Center for Autism Treatment to local jails, court systems and more. Some of us even hit the big time and find internships with national and international organizations! Our internships give us an amazing opportunity to apply everything that we’ve learned while gaining job experience in a wide range of areas. This definitely serves to help us after we graduate – look at all the real-world experience we can put on our résumés!
Possibly the coolest thing about being a psychology major at Florida Tech is the fact that our program does something very rare –undergrads get to choose a concentration within the broad area of psychology. Basically, this means that instead of majoring in general psychology, we can choose concentrations in clinical, forensic, applied behavioral analysis, animal behavior, or we can even design our own concentration. You usually don’t have the opportunity to specialize until graduate school, so having this option at the undergraduate level is a great opportunity.
To dispel a few stereotypes I’ve heard, let me point out that psychology is a science. We’re very heavily focused on research and empirical data – you’ll find nothing too Freudian here. Psychology is just as important as any other major here at Florida Tech, and we’re certainly no less scientific than anyone else. Psychologists in all fields study abstract concepts and apply them to the real world.
Specifically, we learn things like biology, including the role of genetics and the physiological causes of many disorders. We read and memorize dozens of classic studies and do our own applied research projects. We also spend hours writing 10-to-15 page term papers every semester.
Beyond that, we’re practically trained and desensitized. We learn state and federal laws and how they relate to us. We learn how to empathize with people that many of our peers might run from immediately. Although we’re exposed to some harsh material at times, it’s all part of the quest to help others and make a difference.
Clinicians take an oath to do no harm and to do only good in the quest to provide mental healthcare. We also save lives by rescuing people from themselves. Every concentration makes its own contribution – don’t underestimate any of us! Psychology at Florida Tech is an underappreciated program, but those of us involved in it know just how lucky we are.