OPINION: General psychology should be a mandatory course for students

Caitlyn Dieckmann 

cdieckma@uccs.edu 

 LAS students at UCCS are required to complete at least 12 credit hours under social sciences to fulfill the campus curriculum component in their degree audit. Three of these credit hours should be mandatorily reserved for general psychology.  

     Psychology studies human behavior and seeks to understand how and why we think and feel, and our actions that either result from these thoughts and feelings or that influence them. General psychology at UCCS is one of the most informative courses I have ever taken, and even influenced me to begin my journey into psychology as a major and future career.  

     However, that is not why the course should be mandatory. Apart from inspiring me, the field of psychology is extremely helpful in making us more intuitive about ourselves and others and making us better students.  

     First, learning the general principles of psychology gives you a great deal of self-awareness.  

     One of the most important principles that is drilled into students’ minds in general psychology is the misconception of nature vs. nurture. Nature refers to your genetic influences while nurture refers to your social and environmental influences. Both affect who you are, how you look, how you act, etc.  

     The misconception is that it is either one or the other that affects us, but it is really both working in tandem, to put it simply.  

     Learning this principle in its entirety is important for understanding yourself. Knowing your predisposition for something like anxiety or depression allows you to assess your environment and decide what level of risk you are putting yourself at for these things. Preventative measures can be taken. 

     Or, say you have already developed a disorder, but you were not genetically predisposed to it. You can assess what happened or changed in your environment that caused the disorder which helps you to either take yourself out of a particular situation or to have someone properly diagnose what happened.  

     General psychology also prepared me to be a better student. The best practices for studying and memory were one of the first things taught.  

     For example, I learned highlighting doesn’t work. You can’t just highlight bits of information in a text and expect to remember that information.  

     Study habits also make a difference. You will have to study for a test, it is inevitable. However, you cannot cram the night before and expect all that information to be automatically relayed into your exam the next morning.  

     I learned in my first semester as a student here at UCCS that it is better to study for maybe an hour and then take a break, and come back to it after that break. And then of course, repeat.  

     But this was just one small study tip that was taught in general psych. The course dived into memory and learning, explaining working memory, long-term memory and how we learn.       

     The things I learned in this course carried over to knowledge I utilized for all my courses. That first semester set me up to succeed all the way to now, my final semester of college.  

     General psychology was the most important stepping stone in the river of my education at UCCS. It should be an opportunity that all students take advantage of, thus it should be a mandatory campus curriculum course.  

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