In my Social Psychology class, I have experienced what it is to be an older college student. I’m 25, with two degrees. Most of my classmates are doing their bachelor’s degree. I can say that it is a interesting perspective to have.
One thing that has happened is that I find myself being the academic counselor in the class. People ask me about graduate degrees in psychology and about managing academic aspects of bachelor’s degree. It’s interesting, because I am not in that system as a regular student and I am finding myself taking risks in giving options to solve issues about curriculum and getting towards completing their degree.
In the last 2 sessions the professor has assigned group work for us students to accomplish. In the first session, we were told that a nuclear disaster was imminent, and we needed to pick 6 people to survive from a list of 10 people with certain attributes using consensus and their purpose was to start rebuilding society again. Afterwards, we had to discuss it with the rest of the class. There were two dominant voices who carried the conversation along: I was one of them. I felt that my role was to ensure that everyone had consensus and confirm the people chosen. I also did my part to keep balance in who we chose to survive (making sure that they understood the biological implications of this scenario, place arbitrary criteria for choosing survivors, etc.). I was also chosen to be the voice of the group at the time of sharing the results.
In the second session, we had to discuss the attitudes that we experienced in the exercise based on a assigned chapter on attitudes in group settings. I might have been the only person in both groups that actually did the reading assigned for that day and I knew how to start the discussion without having to have everyone else waste time reading the text. Because of this, I took over the full leadership role and got the discussion going. I got the other members to participate and give their opinions about their attitudes. I acknowledge differing attitudes in the group and shared my own experience. I had to make the balance between being the facilitator and being a peer, which is something that I had difficulty doing as a Health Education student. At one point, I also helped a student download the chapter on her phone.
In both sessions, I found myself in a pseudo-leadership role guiding both processes. Even though I know that INTJs can be awesome leaders, I know that if I were at their level I would have taken over it as quickly as I did. I felt confident in the skills that I had learned in Health Education and in my manner of guiding the discussion. I knew what I was doing. I was rational and cool headed maintaining an understanding of what needed to be done to accomplish as much of the task as we could given the fact that no one else had read the chapter. The one thing that I have to deal with is that I can’t bounce back and forth languages because most don’t understand English very well. Oh well!
Another thing that has happened is more social in nature. Social contracts at the university level is a non-verbal and timed contract: it ends when a course ends. They are superficial in nature: personal subjects are not discussed. This is fine by me, I don’t put a lot of effort in this area of my life so I don’t take this personally. In this class, I talk/listen to my classmates but for the most part it is superficial. There is one classmate with whom I have repeatedly stayed with for considerable time after the class ends. Last night, the class ended at 9:30… we walked around the university and talked until 10:30. That is significant, taking into account that I usually leave the premises after a class is over and I don’t talk to anyone really. I like to remain mysterious. With this classmate though, a bond was formed instantly. Second day we were joking about stuff. That pattern has continued since. We have shared high school stories, which to me is something that I prefer to keep to myself. This is refreshing to me, to be able to have this openness with a peer.
I don’t know what will be the long term effect of taking this class, other than being able to pursue a psychology degree. I will say that being able to adopt these perspectives is life changing. I have seen my capabilities in a different light. I have seen how different things could be.