The APA pushes towards Psychology in High School:
APA’s efforts to support the teaching of high school psychology are an integral part of advancing the recognition of psychology as a science — one of three goals in the new APA strategic plan. Enhancing the pipeline of talented students who study psychology is one way to ensure that our discipline will continue to grow and prosper for future generations.
High school psychology courses also communicate the relevance of psychological science to everyday life and thus serve as an important public education tool. The high school classroom is often the first time students have the opportunity to learn about psychology; how our discipline is presented is critical to our future.
Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and regular psychology are taught in high schools across the country. More than 150,000 students took the AP psychology exam in 2009, up from 4,000 in 1992. Psychology has also been the seventh largest exam volume for both AP and IB exams. Perhaps most compelling is that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 31 percent of graduating students earned credits in a psychology course during high school. If one considers that approximately 3.3 million students graduated from high school in 2009, then nearly 1 million students graduated having taken a psychology course.
According to the Guardian, Teaching psychology in schools would encourage more girls into science:
So girls are engaging and succeeding in science, it just happens to be a science that is much misunderstood by the public and policymakers. Furthermore, and to the detriment of science, the Russell Group's rejection of A-level psychology as a facilitating subject creates a situation whereby girls are less likely to be accepted into top universities (in fact the Russell Group list is significantly biased against girls with its choice of subjects appealing mainly to boys).
Psychology is actually the only A-level science not represented in the list of facilitating subjects and the only science that attracts a significant number of girls. In 2012, more than 5,500 more girls took psychology than biology (its nearest rival) while chemistry struggled to attract half the number of female psychology candidates and physics rarely attracts more than 7,500 (compared to more than 41,000 girls entered for psychology exams).
It appears that when opportunities arise to encourage girls into science the doors are well and truly slammed in their faces. This appears to be the case both for A-level and for any future changes to GCSE's. Many girls are turned off science well before they choose their GCSE options but by A-level they have been encouraged back into science via psychology. Some of these girls will then go on to university and become the scientists of the future (as some of my past students have done).
The Russell Group list (seen by many as arbitrary and damaging) will no doubt discourage many girls from re-entering science and, consequently, encouraging a greater gender imbalance.
Why a degree in Psychology could offer many career opportunities:
In decades past, going to school to study psychology most often meant that you were on the track to become a clinical psychologist. Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds of fields, that a psychology degree will prepare you for. Finding high-paying, rewarding jobs with a psychology degree is not very difficult if you determine which focus interests you and you remain dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. Some career choices focus more on the clinical and counseling ends of psychology, while others require additional skillsets and use a psychology degree as an added aspect of the job.
If you’re not sure which direction you would like to take your career, here are 8 of the best jobs with a psychology degree out there today:
1. Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychology is the practice of intertwining traditional psychology with the criminal justice system. The field can encompass a number of different specific tasks as part of your job description. You will work with individual criminal cases for things such as evaluating competency, sentencing recommendations and evaluating the likelihood of criminals committing additional crimes in the future.
Another important aspect of forensic psychology is the fact that you’ll likely spend a good deal of time in the courtroom, testifying your findings in front of a judge and jury.
2. Corporate Management
When you’re thinking about potential jobs with a psychology degree, it’s likely that big business isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. In reality though, psychology is an important discipline when it comes to the corporate world. Managers with a deep understanding of the science are often able to interact with and direct their employees more effectively than those with no formal psychology training. Many times, understanding psychology and how consumers think will help you lead your company in the right direction when it comes to making changes and planning for the future of your business.
3. Special Education Teacher
Educational and developmental psychology are two fields which are crucial for any special education teacher to be competent in. Many teachers may have degrees in the areas that they instruct, but working with children with learning disabilities requires a more thorough understanding of how the human mind works, which strategies are effective in conveying knowledge and skills, and how to properly interact with students with special needs. Oftentimes, the educators best equipped to handle special needs students are the ones who have a deep understanding of their condition and how it affects their cognitive abilities.
4. Career Counselor
Most career counselors work in the educational realm, with a large portion working with high schools to help direct students on their ideal paths after graduation. Many others work with colleges and universities and some even work with organizations during downsizing to help employees that have been laid off find potential job opportunities. One of the biggest tasks given to a career counselor is to help their clients discover the careers that are right for them, identify how to reach their career goals and to keep them accountable for their progress.
5. Sales & Marketing
Just as with corporate management, there are other jobs with a psychology degree that are common in the business arena. Perhaps the vastest array of career opportunities is in sales and marketing. Understanding psychology and the mind allows you to more effectively reach your customers and develop methods and strategies for growing a business’ client base and sales figures. It’s no accident that you remember a product’s commercials and advertising efforts – through the use of psychology these campaigns are designed to penetrate your mind and keep the promoted product in the forefront.
6. Substance Abuse Rehabilitator
For many people, substance abuse is a very serious problem. Substance abuse rehabilitators work with individuals with substance addictions to help them move on with their lives soberly. Not only does a degree in psychology help you understand how the mind works and why addictions happen, but it also provides you with strategies for breaking the addiction and helping clients cope with problems without turning to drugs or alcohol. Most substance abuse rehabilitation jobs are going to be with government and private entities who deal with addicts such as at a rehabilitation center or correctional facility.
7. Genetics Counselor
Genetics counselors combine psychology with the medical field. As genetics becomes more advanced, genetics counselors are becoming more and more in demand. One of the most common tasks that you may perform in this career is meeting with prospective parents to discuss the chances of genetic conditions being passed down to their offspring. You may also commonly meet with clients to discuss their own likelihood of developing certain genetic conditions based on their family history and other facets of their lives. For this job, you must not only be a skilled counselor, confident in your ability to console individuals and families facing undesirable situations, but also extremely knowledgeable when it comes to medical conditions and treatments.
8. Sports Psychologist
There is no doubt about it – professional and collegiate sports can be quite stressful upon the athletes that participate in them. One of the best jobs with a psychology degree for any sports lover would be as a sports psychologist. In this career, your focus would include motivating your clients to perform at their maximum levels, assisting with the psychological pains of sports-related injuries and conveying how sports and other physical activities can actually promote mental health. Much of your job as a sports psychologist is to help others reach their full potential by combining their psychical attributes and abilities with a strong mind and positive way of thinking.
Having a degree in psychology is a versatile asset to have in your corner in nearly any career. Whether you plan to work with clients as a counselor or aim to apply your knowledge to other disciplines such as business and sports, there is no shortage of jobs for top-qualified applicants. Finding jobs with a psychology degree can be easy if you decide to specialize in a specific area and cater your education towards developing the skills you need to be proficient at your future career.