My Major Passion: Psychology Meets Gerontology
Every major has quirks and perks that come with the territory of intensely studying one subject for four or more years. As a psychology major, there are many things that I love and find entertaining in my field of study. For instance, when telling people I am a psychology major, I often receive a look of alarm or concern, soon followed by a sentence that resembles, “What are you thinking about me right now” or “Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong in this _________ area of my life?” The truth is psychology majors are not mind readers or magicians that can fix your life, but really just people that are interested in better understanding their world, and most of all themselves.
The scariest moment of my early college career was when my psychology professor asked me this one simple question: “Why did you choose psychology?” At that point in time, I honestly had no idea. It seemed like I had just decided one day that I wanted to be a psychologist, and that was that. Yet here I was, trying to figure out why I wanted to spend the rest of my life thinking about what was going on in other another person’s mind. Surprisingly, the answer I came up with in that five seconds of panic still holds true to this day. I chose psychology because I want to learn about myself and other people. Even further than that, I want to help people. I want to make a difference. I think that making a difference is the main reason any of us choose our majors, because we all want to make an impact in the best way we can.
Now, while I may have not understood why exactly I wanted to be a psychologist, I did know that I wanted psychology to be my major from around my junior year of high school. This fact strongly influenced my decision to come to LMU. When doing research for my future college, I learned that LMU requires a large amount of credit hours for the psychology major. Compared to some other schools, the workload is heavy. While some may see this as a deterrent, to me this means that the psychology program will allow students to become incredibly knowledgeable in their field of study. This also means the program is designed to prepare students for graduate school. In addition to the high standards, the program is a dual-track curriculum that teaches aspects of both experimental and clinical psychology. While some schools focus on one or the other, here we focus on both learning how to carry out and use research, and also the fundamentals of counseling. This means that whether you want to do research or become some kind of counselor, LMU can prepare you for your future. Lastly, the thing that hooked me about our psychology program is that at the end of my senior year I will be required to participate in an internship. In addition to that, students are also required to carry out a senior research paper and present their research at an academic conference in the area. The fact that I could actually graduate with counseling and research experience convinced me that this was the place to be.
So, I came to LMU and started the psychology program. While I was enjoying my classes and doing well academically and socially, I still felt like something was missing. The thing about psychology is that there is so much to study about human nature and interactions that I felt like I really needed an area that I could invest my heart into. Going through the catalog, I found a minor titled “Gerontology.” Gerontology is the subject of the social, psychological, and biological aspects of aging. Being the curious girl that I am, I talked to Dr. Quinton Wacks, the head of the psychology department, about what the minor would mean for me. With the aging population growing larger every day, and my passion for helping people and making a difference in mind, I decided to invest my time in getting a Minor Certificate in Gerontology. I love it. Every day I get to think about how I could help improve the lives of people who are sorely underrepresented in today’s culture. According to the Census Bureau, there are now 40.3 million people age 65 and over in America. Compared to the year 1900 when there were just over three million, this country has experienced a major rise in older adults, and due to the Baby Boomers that will change will continue. Every day I also get to learn about how to be a better communicator and listener. For instance, last semester I spent time volunteering at a local nursing home. By visiting with the residents, I learned about their grievances and concerns, and also developed stronger communication skills. Currently the minor is a small one, but I would love to see that change. The fact is, not many people know about or understand the different aspects of gerontology, or even that it is a growing field. The Bureau also states, “The number of elderly is projected to at least double in twenty states between 1995 and 2025.” This means two things to me. First, there is a growing population of people that will need a level of care and attention that America has not yet experienced. Secondly, as a student I am more likely to be employed when I graduate because I am passionate about a subject that has a need for caring and informed people.
I chose both my major and my minor based on my own passions and life experiences. When choosing your major, don’t worry so much about making money and what you are going to do with the rest of your life. While those things are important, finding something that you really care about and can invest your time in is what really matters. When you truly love what you do, a job and a future outside of college will be there for you to find. If you have any questions about picking a major or what LMU can offer you, you can visit our Admissions page.