How I Chose My Major, and a Minor I Wish Was Another Major

By: Tony

I’ve always been good at social studies. Growing up, it was always my favorite part of the school day, and my academics reflected that. I earned A’s in social studies and English, but that trend didn’t always extend to math. As my mom likes to put it, I’m good at words, not numbers. In high school, this pattern continued, and I began to really think about it. I knew that I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure what I would study. This was a few years into the huge STEM surge that we are still going through, and those studies were being pushed heavily at my school. I knew that numbers aren’t really my thing, and I began to worry that I had no idea what I wanted to study. At the same time, I was excelling in my history, economics, and civics classes, and I was also really into reading dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World. I was wary of wanting to pursue these studies in college because I was well aware of the jokes surrounding the liberal arts, and all my friends were planning on studying STEM fields like computer science and engineering. Luckily, this hesitation ceased in the fall of my senior year of high school.

The class that changed everything was my 4th period political science class. I’ve heard of poli sci prior to this class, but I didn’t really know what it was. In case you’re not sure of what it is either, political science is the study of power, specifically what power is, how it’s distributed, and how it should be distributed. In essence, it looks at how society is run and maintained, and possibilities of how those operations can be done better. I absolutely loved that class, we talked about theory, current events, our own opinions, justice, and a whole lot more. After I took that class, I had my mind made up, I was going to study political science in college. During my senior year, I also took a sociology course, which I also loved, but I had my mind set on political science.

The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life. - R. Buckminster Fuller

Fast-forward to junior year at UMD. I was a happy poli sci major with a sociology minor. I didn’t really pay too much attention to my progress in sociology beyond making sure that I was on track to complete the minor. While applying for Spring semester classes I decided to look at what it would take to complete a sociology major as well. As it turned out, I was much closer to that reality than I thought, but there were still a few obstacles in the way. I would need to complete a branch of required courses related to completing an internship, and it didn’t seem that I would be able to complete everything and graduate on time. The first course in the branch seemed to be similar to one that I completed for my political science major, and so I reached out to my academic advisor to see if I could get that course waived. I got the paperwork for the request, but life got in the way and I forgot to submit it. I still regret not at least submitting it and seeing what happened. Maybe I would be a double major now.

I care a lot about sociology, just as much as, if not more than, political science. If you’re wondering, sociology is essentially the scientific version of people-watching at the mall. The goal of sociology is to better understand how society functions and how people interact with each other. It allows me to better comprehend the world around me and the potentials for improvement. In fact, I am applying to attend grad school for sociology because I want to continue learning and figure out how I can connect those lessons to a career.

So that is the story of how I chose my major, and a minor that I wish I had picked up as a major. Even though I came into UMD with an idea of what to study, I still regret my hesitation in figuring out what additional opportunities I had. Hopefully, my experience will encourage you to take those extra steps if you are in the same spot that I was.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Steve Halama

What Can I Do With My Minor?

By: Logan

Being a psychology major and sociology minor I hear the same question quite often. What are you going to do with that degree? This question always makes me think and I don’t always have a specific answer to give people. I know psychology has many applicable uses within business and recruiting, but where does sociology come in? I believe sociology gives me a better idea of how societies operate and function and I find this very interesting and helpful.

So how can knowledge of sociology help a person in the working world? I think the experience I have gained can be applicable in many areas. Many sociology courses have a focus on how certain groups are disadvantaged or stratified and this is a very important issue in our day and age. I have used this knowledge to help me in certain activities and organizations I am involved in. Here at UMD, I am a student representative for the Student Life Change Team. SLCT focuses on creating an inviting and comfortable environment for students of all demographics and backgrounds. I am on a committee within SLCT which focuses on recruiting efforts and discrimination. Specifically, we look at how different departments within Student Life recruit student employees, create a comfortable and inviting environment, and how applications or interview questions could be discriminatory. My background in sociology helps me better understand how certain groups are disadvantaged in the job application process and we aim to make this process and environment comfortable and inviting to everyone.

This is one way sociology can help me in the future but there are definitely many other options. There are dozens of websites that give examples of careers for people who have a background in sociology. These websites can give you an idea of what types of jobs they are going into, the experience level needed, and more. One resource I find very helpful is What Can I do with This Major? A very direct title and it has a lot of great information for almost every major someone could have. This website lets you choose from a large list of majors, and from here you are given a detailed list of different careers people have gone into using this major. It also gives information on how much education or experience is needed for different positions. One thing to keep in mind is that even though this resource highlights “majors,” the information applies to minors as well.

Another great resource Career and Internship Services offers is the annual Graduate Follow-up Report. This is a perfect resource for anyone curious about what people have done with the different majors, after UMD. The report includes information such as percentages on how many graduates in each major are employed or continuing education, if they think their jobs are relevant to their majors, and average annual salaries. This resource is great because rather than just listing off a bunch of potential careers, you can actually see exactly where graduates from UMD are working and what they are doing. The report even has a list of the names of the companies the graduates are working for and position titles. This resource is helpful for all students who are curious about what people from UMD have done with certain majors. Again, even though this information is about different “majors,” it applies to minors too.

Overall, in a field such as sociology, there are a lot of options. I have provided a few resources in this post to help you get a good idea of what can do with a major or minor.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts

Career Planning for Social Sciences

Are you one of the many students on the UMD campus with a social science major? Odds are, you are. Our campus offers an array of social science majors ranging from Anthropology to Psychology to Cultural Entrepreneurship to Political Science. We’ve put together a few resources to help you through the career planning process. Included are: what you can do with your major and general job/internship search information. Have fun working on your career plan!

Social Science majors

Internship Programs: a lot of companies have internship programs that happen every year. We have listings (Minnesota, Regional, National) of some of these companies on our Internships page to get you started with your search.

What can I do with a major in… Anthropology; Criminology; Cultural Entrepreneurship; Linguistics; Political Science; Psychology; Social Work; Sociology; Women’s Studies

What are recent UMD Grads doing: Anthropology; Criminology; Cultural Entrepreneurship; Linguistics; Political Science; Psychology; Social Work; Sociology; Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Other Helpful Career Planning Articles