Arts & Humanities
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Bettina Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism in 2010 from Northwestern University. She stumbled into psychology while taking required courses in college, and while she did not pursue a career in psychology, it continues to inform her work today. She currently writes and edits a home design magazine for a content syndication company. A self-professed media junkie, she also enjoys baking, yoga, watching baseball, and playing obscure board games.
Why did you choose to pursue a degree in psychology?
I started college as a journalism major and began to take psychology classes as part of the distribution requirements of my degree. After just my intro class, I could tell that I was very interested in psychology. My journalism degree required that I take six classes for a ‘concentration’ in the arts and sciences, and since the psychology major only required three more psych-specific classes, I decided to go for it. In the end, Iím very glad that I chose to do so.
Was the course of study what you expected?
Yes and no. The field is as interesting and varied as I expected it to be, [but] I was surprised to learn in many of my classes that some of the assumptions and “common knowledge” beliefs held by the general public about psychology are incorrect. For instance, there’s an over-simplification about brain chemicals (depression is caused by serotonin deficiency, etc.) and mistaken conclusions resulting from cognitive biases.
What did you like and dislike about the major?
I liked that I was learning about the way people think. I am really interested in research findings in several areas of the field, including cognitive psychology, gender psychology, abnormal psychology, and personality psychology. However, Iím not too interested in the actual conduction of research or research methods. Because of this, I enjoyed most of my theory classes, but not psychology statistics or my lab-style class (cognitive development). Thatís also part of the reason that I did not pursue psychology as a career.
How has your degree influenced your career?
While my work does not directly relate to psychology now, I have found it useful in several ways throughout my career. First, understanding scientific methods has been very helpful in writing and reporting on any scientific or technical story. Iíve also written several stories on psychology-related topics. Iíve found that people really like pop-psych-type stories, and Iíve taken it upon myself to make sure that any stories we do in that vein are not packed with the inaccuracies that you sometimes find in other publications.
Learning about scientific and research methods was invaluable. Even though I did not enjoy learning about statistics, it has definitely helped. Iíve also become better at technical writing because of writing reports in APA Style. I am able to detect when a story needs particular attention to phrasing. Editors tend to cut and change a lot of words, and in a technical story, itís important to keep lots of phrases intact in order to avoid introducing factual errors.
What advice do you have for prospective students who are interested in this major?
If youíre interested in psychology, I would say itís a great major to choose. Wherever you go, make sure you get a good faculty adviser and use him/her as much as possible to make sure youíre getting the most out of your education. Not all psychology majors go on to become psychologists, but the knowledge and experience you gain is still useful. Expertise in psychology can lead to a myriad of jobs/careers, and more are being created every day.
Is there anything you would do differently regarding this degree?
Nope. It became clear to me within the first two years of my psychology classes that I was not interested in pursuing a psychology career, so I did not volunteer at any labs or do any independent studies in psychology. However, my friends who were psychology majors enjoyed that work and I think itís pretty essential to any further pursuit of a career in research or academia.