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5 Things to Consider When Picking an Undergraduate University for Your Future Career in Mental He...


Are you thinking about a future in the mental health field? Awesome, we need you! But, let's talk about something crucial: choosing the right college. If you have not gone to get your bachelor's yet, this information is for you. Here are five things to consider:

1. Your Major Matters, But Not As Much As You Think: There are many options for undergraduate majors. To name a few: Social Work, Psychology, Child Development, Sociology. The benefit of choosing a major already in the mental health field is that your program can help link you to internships, jobs, and research opportunities that can help you get into grad school. Choosing a school with these majors available means the university probably already has contracts or programs to help you get experience working in the mental health field. 

That said, you can major in anything. When applying to grad school, it matters more the story you tell about why you want to work in mental health and the experiences you have outside of class (think: jobs, volunteering, internships). Follow your heart.

2. Choose a University or a City that Offers You Opportunities to Get Mental Health Experience: Like I said, you don't need to major in anything mental-health-related if you don't want to. BUT, you will need a place to get experience if you don't already have it. Depending on what kind of mental health field you want to go into, this can include research opportunities, internship opportunities, jobs (ex. working in a daycare if you want to work with kids), and volunteering opportunities (ex. Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Shelters). 

3. You Can Pick a Double Major or a Minor that Can Help You Later: You can benefit from learning about a variety of topics, including a second language (especially if that language is common in the area you want to work). 

4. If Your Heart is Set on Getting a PhD, This Usually Means Doing Research: For you, you need to make sure you get experience volunteering in or working for a research lab. This is easiest when your school provides these opportunities, so you probably want to choose a major listed in point #1. But you can also get creative. Ask professors if they do research or know anyone who does, and ask if you can help!

Check out the book Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology: 2024/2025 Edition  . (Disclaimer: This is an Amazon Associates Link. I get paid a commission if you use it.) This goes into detail about what would help when applying to graduate programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, particularly PhD programs. It lists them out but it also goes into alternative options (ie Social Work, Professional Clinical Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy). 

5. Mental Health is Tough, Take Care of Yourself During this Time: Perhaps ask about the support the university has to offer its students. You can't pour from an empty cup, so make sure you are prepared to take care of yourself. Maybe for you this means choosing a program near your support system (or away from toxic people). 

Extra... Bachelor's Programs Are Also About Trying New Things and Meeting New People: Have fun. Look for good vibes. Give yourself the chance to have enjoy yourself. 

Of course there is a lot to consider when applying to a bachelor's program. These are simply some points that came to mind for me recently. I hope they got you thinking if you need it.

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