Student profile
Nikolina Toleva, MSc Psychology (Conversion) student

Nikolina Toleva

"My lecturers are very caring, approachable and supportive. Each of them has their own research accolades and share these during lectures and seminars."

Entry year
2020

Why I chose Surrey

My experiences over the last few years have guided me towards psychology. Initially, I took part in longitudinal wellbeing joining discussions around child and parent mental health, which I enjoyed immensely! I also completed several online courses, including one on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This taught me so much about my thoughts and behavioural patterns. It inspired me to improve my habits and monitor and challenge my views.

I soon realised that many people are unaware of their mental health or they try to suppress or avoid issues. Often, we search for happiness outside of us and in fact, it’s inside us the whole time. I knew then that I had to pursue a career in psychology.

I chose Surrey because:

  • It’s one of the leading educational institutions in the area, it’s very well known for its research and it has an excellent reputation.
  • The psychology facilities, including the Baby Lab and observation suites.
  • The MSc Psychology (Conversion) course is accredited by the British Psychological Society.
  • Teaching is concentrated over two-to-three days each week, leaving plenty of flexibility for me to organise my study schedule around my family commitments
  • It’s incredibly commutable from south-west London.

Most importantly, I felt positive that the course would be an excellent foundation for my second career.

My course

My favourite thing about the course is the subject-specific knowledge that I’ve gained, especially the insight I’ve developed into the mind, brain and human behaviour. The course is very condensed and intensive, but I’ve learnt an impressive amount of information in such a short amount of time.

My lecturers are very caring, approachable and supportive. Each of them has their own research accolades and share these during lectures and seminars.

Because of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time studying online from home. The IT facilities are truly amazing! Staff provide all course materials, from lectures and guided learning exercises to articles and essential reading, on SurreyLearn, the University’s virtual learning environment. They keep in touch through a discussion board and encourage us to email them too.

"Before I started, I wanted to become a clinical psychologist and that dream still lives on."

My life at Surrey

The campus is equipped with everything you need, including coffee shops, restaurants, a bookstore, computer labs, an outdoor gym and even a lake! I’ve really enjoyed spending time in both the MySurrey Nest and Hive, which have common spaces for gatherings with friends to discuss hot issues. My favourite place to study on campus is the Library – it’s a peaceful, stylish, vibrant and productive workspace.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I couldn’t spend a lot of time on campus socialising. But I used a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with my peers, send reminders for deadlines and generally keep our spirits up.

My career and development

With the numerous extracurricular activities, such as careers webinars and seminars, I’ve gained invaluable insight and broadened my understanding of the different possibilities available within the profession. Under the supervision of my personal tutor, Dr Alexandra Grandison, my confidence has grown, and I feel I have the necessary knowledge to take the next steps in pursuing a career in psychology.

Before I started, I wanted to become a clinical psychologist and that dream still lives on. I’m currently doing six weeks of training with Shout, a mental health support service, and volunteering. I’m also applying for assistant clinical psychologist positions.

My advice

If you’re considering a career in clinical psychology, getting onto a doctorate programme is very competitive, but not impossible! You’ll need at least one years’ worth of work experience to apply for NHS funding, so securing an assistant clinical psychologist role after you’ve finished your masters is ideal.

Also:

  • Consider where you want to be in 10 years and make a plan.
  • Apply for volunteering opportunities early (e.g. Samaritans, Shout and PeerTalk) as organisations have long waiting lists.
  • Be very organised, keep up with deadlines, work hard and aim for the best possible grades.
  • Enjoy the ride!

Find out more about our psychology (conversion) course

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