Education vs. Psychology

So, this is sort of a long story, but I am going to try to make it as short as possible. I’m posting this one more time in hopes of actually getting responses.

I come from a low-income background. My parents are immigrants and neither attended college. I had to do the entire college process on my own. I am an upcoming Sophomore majoring in Elementary Education. My problem is, though, is I never really wanted to major in education and become a teacher. I am only doing it because my mom told me that I needed to partake in a career path that could guarantee me a job after graduation, that was stable, safe, had little competition, good benefits, and little employee exploitation (that one is debatable). All of these are true, of course. I will not be in the financial position to experiment with job hopping. The stability of teaching and the clear-cut, linear path of the program is what convinced me to follow what my mom said and go into education.

I remember freaking out, though, back when I was a junior in high school, when my mom told me I should go into teaching. In no way did I ever see myself as a teacher. I have a very introverted, reserved, and serious personality, and I feel it just doesn’t suit teaching. But I still tried to convince myself. That changed a bit after I worked at the YMCA for a few months. After only a few days of working there I instantly had doubts about my major–the same doubts I initially had going into it. Honestly, I’m not very fond of children. Don’t get me wrong, some kids are sweet, but why should I go into a field where I have to endure such stress and disrespect constantly? Especially when I’m not truly passionate about it? I never believed it was for me, and I still don’t.

My mom was actually about to go to school for psychology. She ended up self-learning about the field out of interest, and shares her knowledge + life experience with mental illness she endured and saw in family members with me all the time. I also had a roommate majoring in sociology and I always found myself engaging in interesting psychology/human behavior related conversations with her. I, myself, struggle with anxiety and mild depression, my mother suffered several mental illnesses, and so on. It is a subject that comes naturally to me, and after my research, I’ve discovered an interest in the field of mental health counseling.

The thing is, I am using the TEACH Grant. If I do not fulfill the obligations of this grant (that is, agree to teach in a high-need field for 4 of the 8 years after graduation), my grant will turn into a loan with interest. That would be $4,000 as of now, on top of the $6,000 stipend loans I’ve already used. I really didn’t want to accrue much debt after graduation given my financial background. So, would it be worth it for me to switch to psychology? I would honestly love advice from fellow psychology majors and grads. Or should I just stay in education and try to make the best out of it?

I was a psychology major in college. While I’m not necessarily recommending not adhering to the requirements of the grant, $10K is a low enough amount that you should be able to repay that after college. However, if you’d have to borrow money to replace the grant, you’re talking greater debt.

That said, if you don’t want to be a teacher, I think you shouldn’t be a teacher. That job is hard enough if you don’t really love it and want to do it.

Psychology is a major that can have many pathways, but it really depends on what you do in college - as in what kinds of internships and experiences you have. A psychology major who was previously preparing to be a teacher might work at an educational nonprofit for NGO doing policy research or analytical work; or maybe an education rights/policies advocacy organization. You could get a master’s degree and go into school psychology.

But if you want a clear-cut, linear path - psychology does not provide that. You will have to do a little experiment to figure out what you want to do, and there’s no one expected field past graduation.