Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Taking Foundations Courses to Continue With Graduate Ones

As I’ve mentioned before, because I didn’t have a previous major or minor in psychology as an undergrad, I had to take “foundations courses” before I could take more than three graduate level courses. The requirement was for 12 credits (four classes) in psychology, education, or related subjects. Since the cultural anthropology class I took in my post-secondary options while I was in high school counted for one class, I only had to take three.

Originally I thought I’d get to use my training modules from the Child Development Center to meet the requirement as they were supposed to count for three early childhood education classes. But it turned out I would’ve had to get them through Central Texas College, and they required 6 credits with them before accepting work for credit, so that didn’t work out. I wish I had known that earlier so I could have started taking the classes a semester sooner, but oh well. In the spring, I took Introduction to Psychology in the same session as my first hybrid class and then took Abnormal Psychology and Clinical Psychology in the second session so that I could go on to take graduate level classes in the summer. Today I’ll tell you a little about those classes.

Rabih asks “How about a little reverse psychology, Dr. Freud?”

Introduction to Psychology

This was a survey course covering many different areas of psychology. I figured taking an intro course after graduate level courses would involve a lot of repetition of concepts I’d already covered, and it did, but this turned out not to be a bad thing. For one thing, it made some of the assignments pretty easy to tackle. For another, there were some concepts in areas like research that seemed much easier to grasp when laid out in the textbook for this class versus the textbook that had been used in the research class. This class was required as a pre-req to take the other two foundations classes, so I’m glad that it wasn’t just repetitive.

One of the major assignments of this class, which I found interesting, was to write a media review paper applying psychological concepts to a book or film. I chose the book Girl, Interrupted because I’d read it a few times and figured it would be easier to find theories that would apply if I used a book I was familiar with. I chose to explore borderline personality disorder and its legitimacy as a disorder, the validity of the diagnostic criteria, and the effectiveness of various treatment methods.

Abnormal Psychology

This class focused on the causes of psychopathology and what sustains mental health disorders as well as strategies for reducing, preventing, and treating various mental illnesses. The most interesting assignment of this class was to pick a set of case studies and answer questions based on the set we had chosen. Because I would like to work with the military population and I’m sure it’s one of the things I’m likely to encounter, I picked the set on PTSD for which I had to discuss several aspects such as similarities in the clients’ histories, their symptoms, the treatment methods used.

Clinical Psychology

This course covered the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies of clinical psychologists, including identification, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health 
disorders. At the beginning, the professor said there would be some overlap between this class and the abnormal psychology class, but she hoped they would complement each other and not be too repetitive. I found that they were more complementary than repetitive.

Hunter’s photographic interpretation of dissociative identity disorder.

Similar to the introductory class, my favorite assignment of this class involved a book. I had to pick a fictional character from a book or movie whom I believed to have a psychological disorder and then provide an assessment, a diagnosis, a treatment plan, and the prognosis. I ended up picking Fight Club, another book I’ve read a few times and had used in a paper on media and character as an undergrad. Although the paper had been on a different topic, having already underlined and highlighted a lot of the book made it easier to find the kind of details I needed for this one as well. I made an argument for diagnosing the main character with dissociative identity disorder and explored some treatment possibilities.

Pass/Fail or Letter Grades?

When I took these courses, I had the option to take them for a grade or pass/fail. I chose pass/fail because I wasn’t sure whether they would factor into my grad school GPA, even though they’re not counted specifically as part of the program. I didn’t want to artificially inflate my grade if they did count nor drag my GPA down if I didn’t end up acing them. At the time, I didn’t think about the fact that if I apply to Ph.D. programs later, they’ll look at all psychology courses I’ve taken. Since it turned out that I would have gotten an A in all of them, it might have been to my benefit to choose the graded option, but such is life.

With those three classes completed, I was able to resume taking graduate level courses in the summer. I took Family Counseling, Human Growth & Development, and Multicultural Counseling, all required courses. I’m glad I did because before the fall semester started, it was announced the UMUC-Europe was going to stop offering the counseling psychology program. Anyone with 12 credits or more would be part of a “teach out” plan, but anyone with less wouldn’t be able to continue taking classes. If I hadn’t taken at least one class in the summer, I wouldn’t have qualified. I’ll tell you more about my summer classes and learning about the “teach out” plan in future posts. Next time, I’ll tell you about making slow cooker turkey on Thanksgiving in case anyone’s looking for a last minute recipe for Christmas.

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2 Thoughts on “Taking Foundations Courses to Continue With Graduate Ones

  1. Stephanie Sullivan on November 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm said:

    I am an undergrad in the US looking to travel to Germany to study for my Masters (I will be graduating in May), and your program sounds very interesting to me! I know higher education in Germany is now free for American students; do you happen to know if this also applies to graduate students? I would also love to learn more about your program, living in Germany, and anything else you feel I should know – I will continue to read your blogs as well!

    • I don’t know if Germany’s higher education being free applies to graduate students, but I know it would not apply to my university since it is an American university which offers courses here only to service members of the U.S. Armed Forces, American employees of the U.S. Government, and their family members who are stationed here. My particular program has been discontinued, and only those of us who were already far enough into the program got to finish. The university is now offering a social work master’s program through Salisbury University: http://www.europe.umuc.edu/graduate/social-work-additional-admission-requirements

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