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How Psychology Affects Science GPA

by Dan Hughes
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How Psychology Affects Science GPA

Getting into graduate school is a pretty daunting process — especially if you’re applying to medical or scientific programs. In order to get accepted, you’ll need good grades on your undergraduate transcript, preferably with no deficiencies. You’ll also need lots of letters from professors attesting to your intelligence and abilities. And that’s not even counting what kind of research experience they want you to have.
And while getting good grades might be easy enough for some students, it can be difficult for others who don’t seem to pay much attention to their studies. This has led many academic departments to question whether a student’s performance in non-science classes should be factored into their overall GPA when making admissions decisions. The answer isn’t quite clear yet, but one thing seems certain: It definitely counts towards science GPA.
Medical School Admissions Officers often consider performance in all areas of study when evaluating an applicant’s potential for success in medical school. These officers typically look at the number of hours a student spends studying and how he or she performs in comparison to other students in those classes. If a student receives mostly Ds or Fs, then this will reflect poorly upon his or her future performance in medical school.
This logic doesn’t necessarily apply to all schools, however. For example, engineering schools usually focus more on coursework than most other fields do. Performance in these types of classes are often evaluated by looking at the cumulative quality of work rather than just the grade point average. So does this mean that psychology majors shouldn’t worry about their GPAs? Not exactly. While psychology may not be considered “hard” science like biology or chemistry, there are still plenty of relevant skills involved in conducting psychological research.
Psychology is based heavily on quantitative methods such as statistics. Statistics is used extensively in almost every field within psychology, including cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, health psychology, personality psychology, experimental analysis, etc. Statistics plays an important role in nearly every area of psychology, so having strong knowledge of them could help you succeed in these fields.
In addition, since mathematics is included under both psychology and the hard sciences, it makes sense that any mathematical training received through taking psychology courses would be taken into account in determining someone’s eligibility for admission to medical school or another science program. But is this really accurate? Does this imply that psychology courses don’t actually contribute to a person’s science GPA?
The short answer is yes…but only sometimes. As stated previously, psychology is categorized as a soft science, which means its findings rely mainly on observation and experiments. However, unlike the hard sciences, psychology rarely employs mathematical techniques. Therefore, psychologists must use other tactics to determine cause-and-effect relationships between variables and make predictions.
One way they do this is through surveys, interviews, case studies, and other qualitative approaches. Another method is through statistical analyses. Since these two approaches tend to diverge greatly, it becomes increasingly difficult to compare results from each methodology. Because of this, it’s common practice among researchers to present data from multiple sources in order to strengthen conclusions made through either approach.
So where does this leave us? Should we factor psychology courses into our science GPAs? Well, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Psychologists use numbers and statistics to analyze data. The same goes for scientists in biological labs, geneticists in medical facilities, economists in government organizations, engineers in construction firms, sociologists in political groups, etc.
If anything, it would be unfair to penalize students for taking psychology courses because it’s widely acknowledged that these courses provide valuable lessons in critical thinking, problem solving, communication, analytical skills, etc. Even though psychology itself probably won’t affect a student’s science GPA, it certainly helps to improve people’s ability to perform tasks related to the field of psychology. After all, without being able to effectively communicate ideas and information, psychology wouldn’t be very useful!

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