Your Perspective Matters: How You Can Become a Psychologist
Nowadays, we know that mental health disorders affect people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, however, the rate at which different racial demographics seek treatment is far from consistent. Financial and social barriers, among other obstacles, often prevent African Americans from receiving the treatment that they need. In addition, only 4% of psychologists were black/African American in 2015 according to the American Psychological Association. Since psychology is inherently a field where having a sympathetic understanding of background and common reality plays a vital role in providing good and healthy outcomes, having a diverse force of professionals in the mental health field is key.
Why Should You Become a Psychologist?
First and foremost, you care about helping people. You’re a caring person and a good listener. You seek to understand people as you try to help them. When it comes to definitive qualifications, it helps to have a skillset characterized by balance—to be as good at science and math as reading and writing. Also, a fascination with research is key. You should be ready to keep up with the latest findings in clinical studies and to maintain an interest in conducting research of your own.
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Preparing for Success
More than most other fields, psychology draws from a wide variety of disciplines. In high school, some courses that are especially worth considering include AP psychology, AP biology, AP statistics and health sciences. Finessing your communication skills in English or speech classes will be helpful down the road.
As you explore potential colleges to apply to, find out what opportunities are available outside the classroom. Is there a Psi Chi (psychology honor society) chapter? Is there a psychology club? What internship opportunities have students participated in? What research opportunities are available? Find a school that puts effort into getting its students active and connected in the workforce.
UNCF Schools to Check Out
Among our HBCUs, a quality psychology program is not hard to find. Spelman College’s commitment to community service makes it a great choice for students seeking a people-focused career. Spelman accommodates both those who want to study the more social side of psychology as well as the more scientific side by providing two concentrations within the undergraduate psychology major: mental health and neuroscience. Tuskegee University’s Department of Psychology and Sociology offers a bachelor’s degree in psychology as well as a minor. Strong research skills are a focus, as is developing real world experience, which students have the opportunity to do through working with a professor individually or participating in an internship. Founded in 1856, Wilberforce University is the longest-tenured historically black private university in the United States. Students in the undergraduate psychology program develop experience both inside and outside the classroom rivaling the experience of graduate students at other universities.
Scholarships and Programs
Going into a field that’s somewhat interdisciplinary in nature, many different scholarships would fit a psychology student’s needs. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards and the HBCU Alliance Partners Scholarship Program are available regardless of major. If you’re hailing from Massachusetts, make sure to check out the Liberty Mutual Insurance LEADA@Liberty Scholarship. And, especially if you’re interested in the more neuroscience-related, research-heavy sides of the discipline the Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program could be a fit for you.
Since it’s such a broad field offering such a wide variety of opportunities, it’s important to get familiar with all the different places a psychology degree can take you. Submit a major interest form on our website to get advice on how to choose your educational path. In the meantime, follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on our scholarships and member HBCUs. We know that students like you can dramatically change the landscape of psychology and mental health for the better. Reach out today! We’re here to help.