Before Going to University

27/12/2008 19:09

I regularly get asked by very keen students in their early teens if there are particular subjects that they can study at school in order to help them to become a parapsychologist. As I contacted the late, great Professor Bob Morris when I was 15 to find out the same thing, I can fully understand and sympathise with what they are going through!

What I would advise students to do at this stage is to concentrate on subjects that can help get you onto a psychology degree. Fortunately, most psychology degree programs accept qualifications in either science or humanities subjects, generally providing the qualifications are of a high enough level (depending upon the university and course). Therefore I would recommend that you currently choose courses that interest you, as you are likely to naturally succeed at such courses and this will put you in a good position regardless of what you decide to do in the future.

Students at this stage should also bear in mind that there are many people engaged in parapsychology research who do not have a background in psychology. Although such a background can, in some respects, make finding work easier later on (as you can teach/research in a variety of areas of psychology), it is not essential for a career in parapsychology. There are also many people who started their careers, or who have careers, in other areas and disciplines and who do research in parapsychology on the side, or who moved into the area at a later stage of their careers. So there is plenty of possibility for change regardless of what you decide to do.

What I often try to advise students at this stage is that they have the world at your doorstep (even if it might not feel it!). Students don't necessarily need to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives right now, although they may feel as if there is pressure on them to! Many degree programs in psychology are happy to take students with a variety of qualifications, and parapsychology has people from different disciplines study it. The best thing students at this stage can do is to choose subjects that they enjoy and will do well in, as these qualifications will always look good for them.

If you are extremely keen, it would appear that the AQA (the largest of the three English exam boards) is adding Anomalistic Psychology as an optional component to its Psychology A and AS level qualifications. Anomalistic psychology is potentially a slightly broader topic area than parapsychology, although the subjects that they cover are usually very similar (if not the same). If you are looking to do a psychology qualification at this level and gain some experience of what parapsychology covers, you could check to see if the particular A/AS level you want to do has anomalistic psychology as a component (not all will).

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Read my guide on "Becoming a Parapsychologist". I wrote this to try and advise some of the students who contact me asking about this complex issue.