Department: Psychology

We (Bilgecan and Selcan) have always dreamt of helping people. That’s the main reason why we want to study Psychology. It seems to be a department that everyone knows something about. But are these things really true? To find out more, we interviewed of the Head of the Psychology department Prof. Dr. Hakan Çetinkaya, current student Canberk Karayağız and a student who graduated last year Naz Özhan.

How many hours in a week do students spend on studying?
Hakan: A typical student takes five classes and needs 30 hours a week to study. Most students come to class and afterwards they immediately go back home to study. However, we also have a laboratory where they have to do research work on, for example, traffic psychology.
Naz: They spend about 10 hours working at home besides the time they spend at university.
Canberk: Students mostly spend 20-25 hours a week, but it depends on how many lessons they take or their lessons’ difficulties. For me, I have 16 lesson hours and spend about 8 hours studying at home. But, of course, before the midterms or final exams these hours increase.

What are the three most important characteristics of a successful psychology student?
Hakan: I think that they are very bright and sensitive to their environment. They take their own responsibilities, and they like to help others. Finally, they have a very scientific, systematic way of thinking.
Naz: Problem solving skills, interpersonal awareness, and observational skills.
Canberk: In my opinion, it is firstly about loving your department. Without this, four years won’t pass easily. Secondly, regular work. Without working systematically, eventually you will fail at some classes. For me, the last thing is attending classes because we learn so much in the lessons.

Some students think that the lectures do not prepare them to being a psychologist. Do you agree with them?
Hakan: Actually I do. Four years is not sufficient, because psychology has many different sub areas. After graduation, you have to do a Masters and PhD to become an expert in a certain area. Four years of psychology education will only give you a bird’s eye view.

What is the most important thing that students do not think of when they choose this department?
Hakan: They just think that after they graduate, they are going to be a clinical psychologist. They are not aware that there are so many other options. Also, students are not aware that they have to take math classes, statistics, and research methods lessons.
Naz: I think working hard is not something we think about.
Canberk: When I started to study psychology, I didn’t think that we would write this many essays. For nearly every course we have to write very long essays.

What is the biggest misconception that students have about studying psychology?
Hakan: The basic misconception is that psychology can’t be a science because human beings have free will. If you have this, it means you are not predictable. If something is not predictable, it isn’t possible to study it scientifically because science is the way of finding regularities. However, that isn’t true because we aren’t that free. We have of course free will, but it’s limited by cultural, social and biological factors. So, human behavior actually is predictable.
Canberk: People believe that psychology is a very easy department. They say things like “You haven’t got math classes” and “You are not diagnosing people, what are you doing?” but we have to learn so many theorems, hypothesis and treatment techniques.

What is the best 2nd language for psychology students?
Hakan: Probably German because modern psychology began in Leipzig, Germany, with its first psychology laboratory founded by Wilhelm Wundt. But about 70-80 years ago, the center shifted from Germany to the US where they have developed the science very quickly and efficiently.
Naz and Canberk: As a psychology student I think the best second language is German, because most of the important psychology books were originally written in German.

In your opinion what is the best place to do an internship? Inside Turkey or outside Turkey?
Hakan: It depends. For example, forensic psychology deals with criminal behavior and is closely related to the national justice system. To understand the criminal behavior in Turkey, you have to do your internship here. But, if you are interested in more universal aspects of human behavior, you can go anywhere.
Naz: It depends on which therapy you want to specialize in. If you study clinical psychology and you feel close to CBT, doing an internship in the USA is good, but if you want to learn more about psychoanalysis, you’d better go to France or Argentina. In Turkey, the best places to do an internship are Bakırköy and Erenköy psychiatric hospitals.
Canberk: Of course inside Turkey, because every nation has its unique features, customs and traditions.

Do you think it is advisable to do a double major?
Hakan: In our system, we encourage people to do a double major because we think that enhances their chances to get a better job. In my opinion, this is a bit utopist because only a few students can achieve this goal. Students want to combine different areas which are not very logical, and I would suggest to focus on one thing and to become an expert on that.
Naz: I think doing a double major within or with psychology is a very difficult thing to do.
Canberk: Yes, because the workload for psychology is lighter than in other departments. You don’t have to stay awake to study and make lots of projects.