Fresh out of high school, Alex Weiglein didn't know what he wanted to study at Northern Kentucky University. He followed his instinct and enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program.
"I don't know if there was a clear, specific reason why I got into psychology," he said. "I always thought it was interesting as a general subject matter. The more I learned about it prior to going into the program, the more interesting it seemed to consider what I could eventually do with it."
Weiglein has been a mental health specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center for nearly three years after graduating from NKU in 2016. He is also pursuing a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling.
"I would like to work as a therapist, primarily in an outpatient setting," Weiglein said. "Right now, I'm a practicum student with a local clinical mental health agency, and I am seeing a couple of clients of my own under supervision. I've got a lot on my schedule."
Weiglein is on track to graduate from the master's degree program in 2020. By then, he will have even more valuable work experience to complement his higher education.
"I didn't know the position at Cincinnati Children's was open, but one of my classmates who had graduated a year before me mentioned it when I said I was looking for a job," Weiglein said. "He said, 'Hey, we're always hiring for this position.' It got me on the way. There are plenty of people I've met in my classes I see at work and say, 'Hey, you went to NKU.'"
Weiglein grew up in Cold Spring, Kentucky. He enrolled at nearby NKU in Fall 2012.
"I went to one of the visit days on campus where you could go in, have a big lunch and meet some of the faculty members," he said. "I met Dr. Angela Lipsitz, who has since retired, and talked to her about the program and what the psychology department at NKU had to offer potential students. I was pretty sold after that."
The ability to tailor the degree to specific interests was one of the biggest advantages of the BA in Psychology program for Weiglein.
Hop, Skip, Jump
"You can lean into certain things a little more by taking more stats classes, clinical classes or developmental classes," he said. "Even if you don't do that, the program is already broad enough to go in any direction. You have to set up yourself up for success, but the program is adaptable to whatever you want to do."
PSY 405: Counseling Psychology, taught by Dr. Kathleen O'Connor, was Weiglein's favorite course in the BA in Psychology program.
"The course was practical and hands-on," he said. "Dr. O'Connor was big on having us practice using certain skills and techniques. It was not an easy class, but it was well worth the effort. I'm using a lot of the same information now that I'm learning in the program now."
Weiglein believes the bachelor's degree program thoroughly readied him to enter the workforce and hit the ground running, with its data analysis curriculum preparing him for graduate school, as well.
"It prepared me all across the board," he said. "I feel like I could basically sleep through the research class I'm taking in my master's degree program because NKU has such a thorough research regimen and did such a good job of preparing me. Plus, all of the things we talked about in the developmental and neurobiology classes were comprehensive and extremely helpful in a real-world scenario."
Although Weiglein initially took a chance on a career in psychology, he loves his work and looks forward to a long career helping others. Especially since he landed a job so quickly out of college, it was almost like he planned it all along.
"It was intimidating going into a hospital," Weiglein said. "I had never worked in a medical setting before, and I am responsible for taking care of children and helping them."
Weiglein believes one of the most important aspects of earning a BA in Psychology at NKU was getting involved beyond the classroom.
"I did research and an internship, both of which were incredibly helpful down the road," he said. "Any involvement with activity within the department helps. It's a great group of faculty members who are there to help you and improve your odds of success. They help you learn as much as you can, so you should take advantage of it."
Whether earning a degree on campus, like Weiglein, or online, being organized is a key ingredient in the recipe for academic success.
"Definitely make sure you're on top of studying for everything and not cramming at the end," he said. "You will not only get better scores on exams, but it will get the material engrained in your brain. You'll remember it and use it later on. Plus, make sure to get enough sleep. I didn't do that."
Weiglein could not have imagined a better path to a career and the master's degree program than through the bachelor's degree program at NKU.
"I got way more value from it than I could have hoped for," he said. "In retrospect, I see how the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program was helpful and prepared me for success."
Learn more about the NKU online BA in Psychology program.
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