Majoring in sociology isn’t the right move for everyone. This unique social science field requires strong skills in quantitative fields like mathematics and statistics plus good qualitative skills like critical reading and argumentative writing. For students debating between anthropology, psychology, and sociology, it’s a good idea to learn about the specific skills that sociology majors need for success. Here are four of the most important ones.
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It might sound odd to list reading as an important skill for sociology majors. After all, almost everyone in the United States is literate, right? When sociology schools talk about reading, they mean more than mastering Dr. Seuss. Students must be able to critically read advanced texts. This might entail reading a scientific study two or three times to fully understand the methodology section, or it could mean analyzing a white paper from a think tank and highlighting every poorly supported argument. Analytical reading is a difficult skill to learn, but sociology students will have plenty of practice. Most sociology classes require reading two to three complete books or dozens of published articles.
Sociology is unique among the social sciences for its use of quantitative methods like surveys. To succeed in sociology, students need to be able to understand statistical analysis. This is one of the hardest skills for sociology majors to develop. Luckily, most schools offer mathematics or statistics tutoring services. These might be by appointment or as part of drop-in tutoring sessions. Either way, students shouldn’t let a lack of affinity for numbers to deter their goals. For a bachelor’s degree in sociology, only one or two math-heavy classes are required. It’s not until earning an M.A. in Sociology that statistics become integral to the degree.
Written Communication Skills
According to Inc.com, written communication is the most in-demand skill for new employees. It’s also one of the key traits for sociology majors. Over the course of a bachelor’s degree in sociology, students can expect to write at least ten major papers and dozens of shorter ones. A typical class might require weekly one-page essays, monthly five-page report, and a 25-page term paper. Luckily, students can learn writing skills over the course of their degree. Many universities have a writing center where students can receive one-on-one feedback from English professors or peer reviewers. Plus, every bachelor’s degree requires students to take general education courses, including at least two semesters of English. Sociology majors can complete a course on written rhetoric before enrolling in major-specific classes.
Balancing the heavy reading and writing demands of a sociology degree can be challenging. Students must be organized to keep on top of the demands of this degree. At the start of a new trimester, students should review every syllabus and note important due dates. It can be helpful to use a calendar or daily planner to stay on top of project deadlines. Some schools offer freshman seminars on being organized during school. Acquiring this skill requires effort, but it will pay dividends throughout a career.
With enough effort, anyone can be successful in a sociology program. Finding the right school with the right level of student support is critical. Before majoring in sociology, students should make a plan to develop any specific sociology skills they don’t possess.