Getting the most out of your time in RC Psychology

Even as this semester draws to a close, it’s a great time to start thinking about next semester (and future semester) pursuits. There are a variety of ways students can apply concepts learned in the classroom with real-life examples, as well as hone their skills outside of the classroom and learn new skills. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your time in the Roanoke College Psychology department.

Research Labs

            Putting time into research can give you a great experience applying the information you learn in the classroom and experiencing the research process firsthand. Students even have published their research and presented at psychology conferences around the country. Research opportunities are strongly encouraged for students planning to continue their education in either graduate or doctoral programs in psychology.

Research experience and research practicum are great for students to get a foot in the door and learn more about research in psychology. Work-study also allows eligible students to assist with faculty research for an hourly wage. Students can talk to a faculty member with who they share research interests with. Looking at the faculty’s past presentations and research papers is another great way to get an idea of who you would most like to work with. You can find information on faculty research interests here and here are recent student conference presentations and publications with faculty.

For less directed student work, Independent Study (Empirical Study) and Honors in the Major allow students to conduct their own empirical study under a faculty member. It is common for students to take research practicum prior to enrolling in an Independent Study as they have already completed a research proposal but it is not required to do it in this way. For Honors in the Major, the results are required to be presented to a committee during a defense. Independent studies can be used to fulfill the Intensive Learning (May Term) requirement.

Students can also conduct research during the summer through the Summer Scholar Program where they can be paid $3000, receive housing, and a summer course credit to conduct research with a faculty member. Projects are presented during Family Weekend. More information can be found here.

For more details about all avenues to become involved in research click here.

Some comments from students currently involved in research  

“Getting involved in research within the psychology department has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career – not only do I get to actually use what I have learned throughout my courses, but I get to explore my research interests while working one-on-one with a knowledgeable professor. This experience of conducting and presenting my own independent study will give me a bit of an extra boost as I enter the next stage of grad school.”

“I got into research for the chance to be able to dive into a topic that I was really interested in. I learn skills every day that I am able to take and use in my other classes to improve my academic performance. On top of this, I have gained peers who I can share things with and get helpful feedback from people who I trust.”

“After several assignments in classes where I was required to write a research proposal, I found myself writing a similar proposal every time about a topic I really enjoyed reading about and I wanted to see if I could actually translate my ideas from paper into the real world. With research in the psychology department, I found I could and not only do I feel fulfilled, but research has also provided me with great time management skills.”

Sign up for research studies

Some classes have a research participation requirement in which 5 participation amount credits need to be earned for a percentage of students’ final grade. However, signing up for research studies through SONA is a great way to get firsthand experience of how studies operate and possibly get some ideas for research studies you would like to run in the future. A lot of these studies are student studies that are needed for courses such as independent studies, so it also benefits your fellow classmates. More information about how and where to sign up for these studies can be found here.


Internships take place in a variety of places from community agencies to businesses and students have the chance to see how their knowledge of psychology is applied in work settings. Internships can be used for credit (.5 for 60 hours or 1 unit for 120 hours) and can be used to satisfy the Intensive Learning (May Term) requirement. Reflections will be completed throughout the internship leading up to a reflection paper and poster presentation on the experience. The experience and skills gained from it can be added to resumes or crriculum vitaes (CV). Click here to learn more about internships and how to be contacted about opportunities.

Psychology Student Organizations

            Both the psychology club Roanoke College Psychology Association (RCPA) and the psychology honor society Psi Chi host several social, academic, and philanthropic events throughout the semester. Some examples of these include a Veteran Affairs Medical Center Talk, Pie-a-Prof, and Toy-like-Me. However, while RCPA is open to all students, those eligible to join Psi Chi need at least four units of psychology and at least a 3.0 GPA and be in the upper 35% of their class. Both usually set up tables at the activities fair. To learn more information about each click here.

Student Assistant Job

If you’re interested in helping the department behind the scenes, students with a 2.5 GPA overall and a 2.5 GPA in psychology are selected to be departmental assistants where they work for an average of 5 hours a week. Common jobs include grading multiple-choice tests and running errands. Student assistants are also in charge of posting to the psychology department blog and Instagram page. You can learn more by clicking on this link.

Some comments from recent student assistants

“I became a psychology department student assistant to become more involved in psychology and to build relationships with the faculty in the department. Through this position, I have had the chance to interact with all the professors, learn new skills, keep the community updated on all that is happening in our department, and have had fun decorating the fifth floor as well as being involved with pranks on the professors.”

“Becoming a psychology department student assistant has allowed me to interact with more psychology faculty than I might have interacted with just taking classes. I had never paid much attention to social media but being in charge of the blog and Instagram for the psychology department has provided me with new skills. Being able to help faculty in the department is also satisfying.”

Participating in even just one of these activities can make your time in the RC psychology more meaningful and it may make a difference in you falling in love with the subject even more.




Get Connected!

Twitter: @RC_Psychology
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