The opportunity to attend The Annual Congress of Psychology Students in Ireland (ACPSI) is one I was very glad to have taken advantage of last year.

From both an academic and a social perspective, it is in many ways a reminder that there is a life in psychology outside the small knit classes which are generally characteristic of undergraduate psychology courses in Irish universities. As a second year student anticipating my final year in university, a weekend in Belfast last year was enough to ease many personal concerns regarding the last leg of my undergraduate journey; to preliminarily plan my final year project; and to continue growing my psychology network outside of my own university, NUI Galway.

There was something quite comforting about reading over 200 abstracts printed for presentation at the congress. If students all over the country manage to devise and operationalise a research question every year, what’s stopping me? From mindfulness based research to counselling, there certainly was a topic to rouse every aspiring psychologist’s interest. By the end of a brilliant day of presentations I had more ideas for my own research project than I ever thought I could envisage. Specific studies particularly encompassed what I had been considering undertaking myself, thus giving me a strong basis in what I needed to keep focusing on. Effectively I had half a potential final year project mapped out before the gala dinner even began that evening.

Psychology in most universities encompasses quite a small course. At present, for example, I am in a class of 29 students. Often it is easy to feel lost in a sea of more highly populated disciplines and lose a sense of purpose and identity. With such a significantly small population of psychology students in close propinquity one can forget that there is a vast network of students just beyond the doorstep. A weekend engrossed in a world of other psychology students is a pleasant reminder that we have an explicit identity and purpose in academia, with a network ever waiting to expand and grow. Events such as the Annual Congress of Psychology Students are a rare opportunity to nurture relationships from that world and kindle many more. It isn’t often you can pick the brains of fellow students and psychologists alike, after all.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of grabbing these opportunities as they come. If you had told this time last year that I would have been approaching final year with such a calm demeanour, I almost certainly would not have believed you. Having had the opportunity to discuss concerns with students who have already gone through it, and those who are awaiting the journey also, the term ‘thesis’ no longer seems like an expletive to be avoided at all costs. The Annual Congress of Psychology Students, Ireland is not exclusive to final year students, it is an event that has advantages for all psychology students and should be taken advantage of in younger years.

Registration for students wishing to present at the upcoming ACPSI taking place in IADT this April, 12th-13th, has closed. Registration for students not wishing to present but come along for the experience and the craic is open until March 18th.  Take a leap of faith and invest in your psychological future.

If not for your own sake, for the sake of your thesis!

Follow this link to register your place and find more information on this year’s Congress: