The study of psychology explores the intricacies of the human mind, a pursuit that demands both depth of understanding and a solid foundation in academic rigor. That said, students determined to excel in this field might find their strongest start within the halls of a dynamic community college — specifically Golden West College (GWC) in sunny California.
Since its founding, GWC has been highly regarded for its academic quality and emphasis on innovation. It offers university transferable courses at a more reasonable cost, making it an ideal choice for those looking to explore their interests before pursuing it full-time at the university level.
Currently, its Associate in Arts in Psychology for Transfer degree offers a solid foundation covering the contemporary perspectives on understanding human behavior.
Leading these lessons, otherwise known as the Research Methods in Psychology course, is Professor Amy Jennings, who has been with GWC’s Psychology Department for over five years. She also teaches the Introductory Psychology and Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences courses and plays a massive role in ensuring all psychology students can put knowledge into practice.
“There are many ways for students to get involved in our department and get hands-on experience,” she says. “For instance, many of our skills-based courses, like statistics and research methods, give you hands-on experience in working with data and doing research projects. Many students end up working on extracurricular research projects with our Psychology Honor Society – Psi Beta.”
Each spring, these learners plan and conduct their own studies that yield impactful results — many of which are presented at professional psychology conferences. Such experiences help learners advance their writing and critical thinking skills; and understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
Sound like competencies that can be leveraged across a range of sectors? That’s because they are. A background in psychology can unlock careers in both arts and scientific fields, reiterating the benefits of students receiving a broad overview of the discipline at GWC before determining a direction for their continued studies.
Here, they get plenty of chances to pinpoint their calling beyond classrooms, like joining the Psychology Club or the Psychology Honor Society Psi Beta. Professor Jennings is an advisor for both, and her role revolves around providing mentorship to students preparing for life after transfer. She and her team make it a point to forge meaningful relationships with and between students, providing a safe space for them to discuss the academic and professional options available to them. Meet-ups are held on the first floor of GWC’s new Language Arts building, where the Psychology Department is based.
“Our Psychology Club is great at giving students a more complete view of the world of psychology,” explains Professor Jennings. “While most of the time in psychology classes is spent reviewing theories and ideas in psychology, Psychology Clubs tend to focus on the practical application of these theories and ideas. This can help students learn more about psychology, and students can also learn new skills, attend conferences, and learn about career opportunities and graduate school.”
“The Club can also help students build leadership and communication skills through community service and social events. Students can also get to know faculty on a personal level, which helps with letters of recommendation and building a resume.”
GWC is also home to several counselors ready to help students navigate transfer planning, clarify their long-term goals, and solidify their next steps. Professor Jennings advises all her students to visit the transfer center and career center to pick their brains at least once a semester. These experts host a range of insightful events throughout the year.
Of course, the college offers specialized support services for international students, too. “We have an excellent International Student Program that offers academic advising to make sure they are able to get into the right classes and programs,” says Professor Jennings. “We also offer support with admissions and immigration, lots of campus events and activities, and lots of academic support to help them be successful.”
However, not much effort has to go into getting them accustomed to their new surroundings. GWC calls one of the most beautiful campuses in Southern California home, and it is located in the coastal community of Huntington Beach, also known as “Surf City.” The area is known for its friendly locals, pleasant weather, world-class waters, and scenic greenery. It is also conveniently located near bustling Los Angeles and the beautiful Orange County, meaning everything from Disneyland to mountain trails remains just a short drive away.
To get a better feel of life at GWC, click here to connect with a campus representative for guidance on admissions to GWC.