Stage 2: Reflections of a JCU (Singapore) student

Well, JCU is rather competitive, because students are fighting for honours, with 75% distinction average needed for Year 3 modules needed qualification of honours, which is sad because you see many people just fighting for honours aimlessly, and the joy of learning dies. JCU has a solid coursework and the lecturers are from the Australian campus posted to the Singapore campus. The tutors are sessional, so some of them have other own psychology jobs outside, and some are here to fulfill their teaching component of their PhD requirement. Not all tutors are good though, so it really depends on who you get as your tutor.  JCU's psychology program is statistics laden, and I have friends from NUS who come over and feel that JCU's statistics requirements are rather rigourous as compared to NUS.

I guess the reason why I chose JCU was the fact that it is APAC certified, and perhaps the only four year undergraduate sequence that has APAC Honours in Singapore. This is rather important especially for further studies in Australian universities. I know NUS/NTU/SIM students who come over have to pay an amount for their degrees to be tallied and checked for equivalence before being granted the proper exemptions or placements for the 4th year of training. The downside of JCU, in my opinion, is the administration which have a long way to go before it can truly compare itself to local university standards.

As for myself, I intend to pursue my postgraduate studies in probably Australia. Like everybody else who says they wants to do clinical psychology, I intend to either do a masters in clinical or clinical neuropsychology. I'm also a little interested in educational psychology because as someone who has gone through two years of engineering school in NTU before heading to JCU, I believe in the importance of a good and happy education and developing your potential, especially for those who may need more help. I'm still figuring out what I exactly want to do as I go along this journey.


Addition from author of reflection: JCU Singapore runs on a trimester basis, so it is kind of crammed and rushed, and typical lessons can start as early as 9 am and end as late as 10 pm.

Writing a thesis (Part 1) - Hardships (and some advice)

In your path of becoming a psychologist, writing a thesis is often an unavoidable part of it, be it as a  thesis in your 4th year (or Honours) curriculum, or in your Masters program, or when you do it for your Phd. There will always be a thesis that you have to write somewhere in your path towards being a psychologist.

Since this is the first post of this series, I decided to start on the hardships first, which then I might later discuss about other stuff like pleasures, benefits, etc. During the process of writing a thesis, this might be one of your toughest times in your studying life. You may find yourself in a situation that you never expect to be in.
Disclaimer: This is from my own experiences and from my friends who studied psychology, and hence may be different from yours or someone else's. Any similarities is purely coincidental.

1) Lack of sleep - sleep often no longer becomes an option, especially when you have a certain deadline to meet. Some people can go on with their daily routines with little sleep (like 4 hours), but some do need their beauty sleep. Make sure you know your sleep routines, and at least have some sleep, instead of none at all.

2) Lack of food - I am bringing this up because I got a friend who could go without food, or rather got so engrossed with work that she forgot to eat. This resulted in a trip to the hospital. My advice: If you are like that, make sure you at least have some sugar in you (mints, sweets, whatever); at least it can help sustain you for a while more till you remember to eat again. But I believe being in Singapore, food is always around the corner.

3) Lack of social interaction - This is the advice I got on my first day of orientation of my Honours: "Tell your boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives/parents/brothers/sisters/friends that you do not have time for them this year". It was true. You need the time for yourself to do your work for your thesis, on top of other coursework that needed to be done at the same time. So one major advice: Do good time management.

4) Lots of reading (and printing papers) - For those who do not like reading (like me), you will have to read a lot, as you will need to write a literature review section that discusses about almost everything that you are going to research on. So your supervisor will make sure that you know everything about that topic. And of course, with reading, you will print a lot of journal articles, otherwise you will have to read them from your laptop.

5) Lots of statistics - For those doing quantitative research, good luck to you. Stats is often a love/hate topic of many students; you either love it or hate it. But with quantitative research, stats is definitely required (unless you decide to do a qualitative research).

6) Possible mental breakdowns - With all the above, don't you think any one doing a thesis will get a mental breakdown? I am not talking about major depression or whatever in the DSM, but rather a build-up of stress as you do the thesis. So make sure you cut yourself some slack and ignore all the work once in a while, go relax and enjoy your time outside the thesis writing, and come back refreshed and mentally prepared to start writing the next chapter!

7) Any others you might have?? Discuss in the comments below...

Stage 3: A fresh university graduate's reflection

I am a foreigner who had just finished my bachelors in psychology.  Well, it was kind of difficult for me at first as English is not my first language.  I am able to catch up after one or two semesters of my course.  A lot of people had asked me whether psychology is a difficult course.  I would say that, every course is difficult. *common sense thinking* None of the courses in university is like A B C D.  So, I would say as long as you are interested in the course, just go for it.  It may be difficult but you will be able to catch up fast if you are interested and, of course, put effort in it. 
For me, psychology is actually an interesting yet boring course.  It depends on the specific modules (e.g., I love to read every single book or attend every class on hypnotherapy but I might not be interested in neuroscience at all).  Many people around me think that it is just a bachelors; it is not that hard at all.  But for me, I aim for as high marks as possible.  If I want to do something, I just put in as much as effort as I can.  Yet, bad thing about me (actually same for my classmates) is that I will slowly take my own sweet time at first and rush for the last minute before submission dates.  So now I’ve finished my Bachelors and started working hard on my job hunting, but it is very difficult for a foreigner to get a job in Singapore. 
As I am just a fresh graduate, I am focusing more on experiences than salary.  My main interest is industrial psychology, followed by clinical psychology and counselling.  One thing I am kind of frustrated during the process of looking for a job is most of the companies would require a PR or Singaporean citizenship status.  I understand about the quota that they have to meet, but it is like directly rejecting me without even sending out my resume.  So, I would advice people to type "jobs in Singapore for (your nationality)" in Google when you are looking for a job as a foreigner.  After I get experiences from different psychological fields, perhaps I will decide which field I like the most and will go for my Masters. 


SGPsychStud: Is studying psychology really tough??

Answer: (Generally) Yes...
In this new year, let us discuss this topic, as some of you would be considering on taking up some new subjects which you have not experienced or learnt before.

Is studying psychology really tough?? Why are some students having difficulty in some subjects?? Will I have difficulties in studying??

It has already been written in another post on the difficulties on studying psychology and to becoming a psychologist. If you want to have a general idea of what you are going to study in psychology, see this post.

The difficulty level is really subjective to each person, depending on what you have already learnt and experienced before. Your knowledge and previous experience will guide your understanding of the topics, of which some could be very abstract. It is also different, also depending on whether you are starting your first year or in your final year. 

Psychology is an area of study where we pretty much have to learn everything, from biology, chemistry, statistics, to why people desire to buy stuff. In a way, there is so much to learn. Hence really, this difficulty depends on what you do not know or have not learnt before. If you have learnt it before, then you have an advantage over others.

So to make that your studying journey is easier or rather less tough, one way is to get "rough" or basic ideas about what you are going to study, by reading up some introductory books about the topics briefly. An example would be if you are going to do a module of neuropsychology, you should probably do some reading up on chemicals in the brain, and parts of the brain and their functions.

So do you find studying psychology tough? The question here is: What have you done to make your journey easier?