Applied Psychology

How to tell your parents you’re changing varsity courses (after first year)

May 09, 2019

You’ve decided you’re switching to psychology, and you need to convince your parents it’s the right choice. Here’s some tips on the art of persuasion.

DO come to the occasion armed
Passion for what you want to do will only get you so far when it comes to persuading your parents that changing degrees is the right choice. You need to be prepared for the firing line, ready to hear their concerns and address any issues they might have with sound reasoning. First you need to remind them of your abilities, interests and values, demonstrating, in the process, a sound sense of self-awareness. Then you need to convince them that you’ve done your homework. You know the career options available to you, you know what marks you’ll be expected to get, and you know the hard graft that is ahead of you if you want to become a psychologist. Despite this, you are committed and ready to engage for the long haul.

DON’T confuse persuasion for manipulation
Whether it’s because they’re paying for your studies or simply because they’ve raised you, your parents have a vested interest in you. So, it turns out, do you! Your career security and satisfaction will bring them peace of mind in their old age. For you to have these things, you need to find a job that matches your skills with your interests, and that gives you the chance to contribute to the wellbeing of those around you…. all while still paying the bills. You are not trying to coerce them into agreeing to something that is wrong for either you or them. You are doing what you’re passionate about, in a career that brings you financial security and a sense of fulfillment. This can only be a win-win for all.

DO remember that reciprocity compels
When I do something for you, you feel compelled to do something for me. It is part of our evolutionary DNA to help each other out in our efforts to survive as a species. Set targets against which your parents can measure your commitment to the change – the achievement, say of certain marks at the end of your first term. Offer to help out financially by getting a holiday job. If you are afraid to tell your parents for financial reasons, map out a budget and cost for switching your degree, including tuition and living expenses. Also add the starting salary for the field of psychology you’re hoping to enter.

DON’T forget that persistence pays
Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States. Stay persistent in your endeavour and message: personality wise you’re best suited to entering the helping professions, this is a degree that offers numerous secure career inroads and you’re prepared to give it all you’ve got. The person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating that they value what they’re asking for, is ultimately the most persuasive.

DO set expectations

Persuasion is about managing other’s expectations to trust in your judgment. Demonstrate to your parents that you’ve done your research and explain to them how you are going to meet the academic targets you have set yourself. Plot your course of study, making it clear to your parents that you believe psychology to be your true calling. Then set about proving to them your dedication to your chosen path by job shadowing, securing internships or volunteering at community NPOs. Persuasion is simply about understanding and over-delivering on other’s expectations.

DON’T avoid the truth

Sometimes the most effective way to persuade somebody is to tell him or her the things about themselves that nobody else is willing to say. Facing a hard truth is one of the most meaningful events that happen in our lives. It is important to convey to your parents that, while their input is valued, this is your career. Explain why you find your current study choice unfulfilling, and make your parents understand that pursuing a career path which holds no interest for you is not to anyone’s benefit.

DO be confident and certain

There is no quality as compelling, intoxicating and attractive as certainty. It is the person who has an unbridled sense of certainty who will always be able to persuade others. If you really believe that switching to psychology is the right thing for you, you will be able to persuade your parents to do what’s right for them too, while getting what you want in return.

Ready to make the switch? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of qualifications in the field of psychology, including a fully accredited Bpsych Degree. What’s more, our flexible study options mean you can fit your studies around your life. We have three intakes per year for both day and evening students. Study full time or part time, on campus in Johannesburg or Cape Town, or Online. To make the switch, click here.

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