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Taking Advantage of Diversification of Academic Degree Plans – A Personal Example

Although students may be unaware that education is a business, and that colleges and universities remain ever vigilant regarding their “bottom line,” typically academic advisors have certain guidelines they are directed to follow. For those academic advisors, it is important that students are recruited and retained, to allow colleges and universities to continue to qualify for federal funding for student loans, successfully navigating the renewal of their accreditation status, etc. However, do their academic advisors focus on the interests and goals of the students or the benefits to the academic institution that employs them?

Each college and university designates their list of “core courses” that are affiliated with each degree plan: these are mandated courses students are obliged to take and pass successfully to earn their degrees. The “elective courses” are courses that often focus on a particular area or subfield of the degree, often guiding students to consider more specific career choices within the more generalized field of interest, such as social psychology, evolutionary psychology, experimental psychology, etc. Earning a college degree requires a considerable investment in time, effort and money, but it is wise to remember that an individual’s academic journey rarely proceeds in a linear fashion. Making judicious decisions regarding if and when to change degree plans can actually be the initial step in “nurturing your niche.” 

My personal academic journey has consisted of the following: 

Earning an Associate’s Degree in Biology

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Earning a Master’s Degree in Psychology

Earning a Doctorate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution

What was I thinking?

Consider this:

What careers would I pursue with a biology degree?

Did I want to spend my life in a laboratory when I am a “people person”?

Decision to shift to a psychology degree plan resulting in a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology

Now what?

Do I want to earn another degree in psychology which would limit my career options?

What related fields would expand my career options while incorporating six years of pursuing undergraduate and master’s degrees?

Researching conflict analysis and resolution, conflict management, hostage negotiation, natural and man-made disasters, critical incidents, and terrorism suited my career interests perfectly.

Dr. Mary Ann Markey