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Friday, July 14, 2017

Walking the Psychology Path in Private University

"Can you tell me what I am thinking right now" is perhaps the most irritable question you would face if you happened to be in the shoes of a psychology student. 

Image source: thedailytouch

I mean, come on, doing psychology doesn't make me psychic, I still need my crystal ball and tarot cards. If you do not know me personally, I am a research assistant in National Institute of Education (NIE) at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) for more than a year. For those who are interested to know more about the life of a research assistant, read on:

My Undergraduate Journey

I graduated with a second upper honours at James Cook University (JCU), a private education institute based in Australia. Ya, you know the temple-looking building when the MRT passes by Aljunied. Yup, this:

Image source: Digitalsenior

My life motto is work harder, play harder. As much as I want to fulfil my life goal to become a doctor (after finding out that Superman as a career is not feasible), truth is, I played too hard during my diploma days and my results were not good enough to enter a local university. Obiquack - if you are a student, listen to your parents and gor gor (brother), study hard. Like they always say, it is for your own good.

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Image source: lovelace

Nevertheless, the Bachelor of Psychology (or known as Bachelor of Science in Psychology) is a four-year course (with honors), condensed into three years. For myself, coupled with four module exemptions, my study period was just 2 years 8 months with honors. I served as a peer tutor for the majority's nightmare - statistics, but don't ask me anything now because I have returned everything to my lecturer. 

- Everything is condensed. While the majority of schools have only two semesters per year, JCU has three. Yup, this means more work and less holiday.
- Hefty school fees - you cry every four months when you pay your fees.
- Canteen food not amazing.

- Central location (5 min walk from Aljunied MRT).
- International chiobus (pretty girls).
- Comprehensive (but not in-depth) modules.
- Honours track is less competitive compared to local schools.
- You graduate faster, so you can earn back your hefty school fees.

Would I recommend JCU? Well, to be honest, the modules were alright, and the academic and support staff were really helpful when you need them. For the fourth year program here, I have seen a lot of students from local and oversea (branded) universities came over for the honors program. Is it possible to work while studying? Hell yes, in fact, I took on three part-time jobs simultaneously while studying. If I can do it, so can you.

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Image source: goodreads

After Graduation

I graduated in July 2016, but submitted my thesis in January 2016 when I started to look for jobs. Okay, before you start your path on psychology, please know that psychology is a general degree, similar to a business degree. You know everything, but you don't know everything. You are a jack of all trades, but master of none. You probably went through organisational behaviour, but you know no shit about handling real HR. You probably went through forensic psychology, but you know no shit other than the CSI you watch on TV. You probably went through psychopathology and went psyched about performing psychotherapy on patients, but in Singapore, you require a professional certificate and/or a master degree with supervision hours fulfilled before you can start to practice, so going clinical is out.

What's left? Cleaning the streets and research.

Image source: Alexander Ian Lo

My job-hunt went for three months. I won't shit you, this period is going to be depressing as you spam application forms to various companies and wait for their replies. My initial scope was purely into research - research on children, adults, cells, infrastructures, marketing behaviours, genitalia, and others. I dived into Jobstreet, JobsDB and whatnot. After crying myself to sleep (just kidding) and praying for a few months, I widened my job scope to human resource, operation management, and other "business psychology" sectors. I strongly suggest you to continue your part-time job(s) or take on a part-time (if you haven't), so that you could at least start paying off your loans and living expenses.

The total number of application forms sent is approximately 50, then one fine day, I got a couple of replies from my current workplace at NIE. Jitao tio 4D (It's as if I won the lottery.) Unfortunately, I did not get into one, but who cares, because I secured the other one - which is to be honest, way more interesting.


Here comes the part where most of you guys may be interested. Do graduates from private universities earn lesser? Psychology tan wu jia bo (can earn money or not)? The salary, which I believe is confidential, hovers at low $3,000 - which is, well, above my expectation of a starting pay of $2,800 - given that I graduated from a private university. But hey, still not bad hor

And the first time you are getting paid from a full-time job. I won't shit you, it's like this.

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Image source: tumblr


For an academia pathway (or research-related fields), or NIE/NTU at the very least, progression to research associate and research fellow requires a master and doctoral degree. If you have a bachelor degree, don't bet on getting a substantial raise. Pathways are restricted to Research Assistant Grade 1, 2, then 3 and so on, with probably a small tiny increase.

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Image source: giphy

And yes, that is a brief summary of my psychology path in a private university. It doesn't generalise to all who are studying or graduated from a private university. All the viewpoints here are strictly personal, non-sponsored, and biased to a certain point of extent. Like everything you hear, especially on the Internet, here's a piece of advice - take everything with a pinch of salt.

Oh and lastly, if you just happened to consider JCU as your choice of university studies, do let me know - I would be more than willing to share some information and we could split the referral fee. HEH HEH.

Have a great day people. God bless.