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Sociology Major: Yay or Nay

undisclosedundisclosed Posts: 965Registered User Member
edited September 2009 in Columbia University
Just thought I'd public forum this bad boy.

I was thinking of taking a sociology major (along with my current literature one) as a way of de-hippifying my undergrad degree.

It seems to be a good basis for both business and law school (two paths I'm considering) and I *think* it may also be of value in the field of advertising (demographic tendencies and whatnot) which I would like to work in after the undergrad and before attempting an MBA.

Thoughts? Experiences? Friends?

Good? Bad? One step above art history?

(Obviously this is a more esoteric topic for current or past students rather than hopeful high schoolers...)
Post edited by undisclosed on
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Replies to: Sociology Major: Yay or Nay

  • Columbia2002Columbia2002 Posts: 4,529Registered User Senior Member
    I'm not clear how sociology gives you any better/different basis for business school than what lit will give you. Same for law school (and it doesn't even matter what you major in). I know nothing about advertising tho.

    Sociology strikes me as a football player major and a step below art history, but that's just my personal opinion. And my advice to you would be to do it if you're interested in it, and not because you think it will open some sort of doors (it likely won't).
  • DenzeraDenzera Posts: 3,371Registered User Senior Member
    sociology will open no doors and is looked upon as a slacker major with jokes for classes. it certainly gives you no additional street cred for having analytical abilities. heck, even an Econ major gives rise to skepticism on that front.

    that said, Sociology is a really underrated subject which is hugely interesting to me - I find what it studies to be fascinating. there are a lot of pseudoscientists in there practicing a lot of bad science, but the underlying stuff - stuff that fueled books like "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" - is fascinating. seriously, who WOULDN'T like to know more about the way humans interact and coexist in groups and the "why"s behind it all?

    so it's really a shame that it's a bit of a joke major.
  • cerberus08cerberus08 Posts: 638Registered User Member
    "heck, even an Econ major gives rise to skepticism on that front."

    Um...really? you sure this isn't your engineering elitism? :)

    "seriously, who WOULDN'T like to know more about the way humans interact and coexist in groups and the "why"s behind it all?"

    You could take a psychology major and cover stuff like this as well--if you choose the right classes. It might be looked upon more favourably (although I don't think psych is any less of a pseudo science--I can say this, I majored in neuro, which has more biology) and does require a fair amount of analysis.
  • undisclosedundisclosed Posts: 965Registered User Member
    "a step below art history"

    Goddammit dude....I physically gasped at the screen when I read that. Ouch.

    I guess I fall in the Denzera category of finding it really interesting. And if the classes are...jokier than most that could be a good thing. Give me time to manage some internships during the semesters. Hopefully I'll be able to get an iBanking one during the summer. They don't look at majors; just GPAs. If I can't get a 3.8 in sociology I may as well transfer to US Santa Cruz and major in jello shots.
  • lvilleslackerlvilleslacker Posts: 345Registered User Member
    they do look at major. a 3.8 sociology will not look as good as 3.8 physics/math whatever, so keep that in mind. it's just not as difficult to achieve good grades in the humanities.

    on the side, am i the only one who has the impression that econ is a bit of a joke major at the undergrad level? this is coming from someone who wants an econ phd.
  • LionHeadedLionHeaded Posts: 365Registered User Member
    That's odd, my adviser also told me that they didn't look at majors for IBanking but just GPA and B.A. or SEAS degree, alternating between their needs at the moment. Odd.

    And econ is....I don't know, a bit useless at the undergrad level I feel. It's challenging and advanced ( i think the most math-inclined CC major), especially in higher courses but then again, if you need to hire an economist, logic would have it that you would go for a graduate or PhD applicant.

    I don't think the econ degree offers much in terms of preparation for high-powered jobs. I suppose it does look quite powerful coming from an ivy leaue but...eh. I think financial engineering would be a better but similar bachelor option.
  • ShrafShraf Posts: 2,403Registered User Senior Member
    a step below art history

    i thought art history was the bottom of the barrel
    And econ is....I don't know, a bit useless at the undergrad level I feel. It's challenging and advanced ( i think the most math-inclined CC major)

    no i think math is the most math-inclined CC major! and what about physics!

    if you want to take the ibanking/MBA route and need to show that you're analytic why don't you minor in math or statistics? i agree that sociology isn't going to help you and econ would even be a much better choice. In general though i know nothing about finance/ibanking and the rest so i defer to the others.
  • Columbia2002Columbia2002 Posts: 4,529Registered User Senior Member
    i thought art history was the bottom of the barrel

    Art History is the quintessential "useless" major because everyone instantly thinks "what the hell can you possibly do with an art history degree." (The logic there is a bit weak because art history pretty much leaves you with in the same position with respect to post-graduation employment as someone with a degree in any other "useless" liberal arts major like sociology, psychology, american studies, etc.)

    But in my experience (both with Columbia and non CU students), art history just isn't something that the real stupidos flock to. Art history majors are generally geeky / artsy types, but are rarely the people who wouldn't be able to graduate from college in any other major but art history. And I think sociology and psychology majors are often the true dummies who wouldn't even be able to major in something like history or english (equally useless, but which generally require bit more brainpower).

    And more anecdotal evidence that art history isn't a true dummie major -- do you watch college football on TV? Tons of sociology / psych / _______ studies / kinesiology majors, but you rarely hear about a football player majoring in art history.
    on the side, am i the only one who has the impression that econ is a bit of a joke major at the undergrad level? this is coming from someone who wants an econ phd.

    I agree. Unless the econ major comes from Caltech where you need to take hardcore math-based econ classes to get an undergrad degree, I infer from an econ degree (unless it's combined with math or something rigorous) that your core courses like econometrics were watered-down and didn't require much math and that you took a bunch of touchy-feely economics electives like the economics of developing nations.
  • LionHeadedLionHeaded Posts: 365Registered User Member
    That...is a pretty ridiculous post.
  • DenzeraDenzera Posts: 3,371Registered User Senior Member
    on the side, am i the only one who has the impression that econ is a bit of a joke major at the undergrad level? this is coming from someone who wants an econ phd.
    this is also my impression. my friends who were econ majors were mostly econ-math majors (two of whom were among the smartest people I knew at columbia, both plenty smarter than I am) told me that the typical line their professors in the Econ dept gave them is, if you want to work on wall street or just take a basic background and move on, major in Econ - but if you want a PhD in Econ, major in Math.

    I think most of the straight-up Econ majors I knew in the classes I took with them (i.e. Game Theory, Analysis & Optimization, etc) wouldn't have been able to handle the advanced classes in the Math or Applied Math curriculum - their heads would've exploded.
  • valentinocuevasvalentinocuevas Posts: 272Registered User Junior Member
    i can't believe ppl are hating on art history... that's my future major!
  • cerberus08cerberus08 Posts: 638Registered User Member
    "two of whom were among the smartest people I knew at columbia, both plenty smarter than I am"

    Who said you were smart? JK. JK.

    "i can't believe ppl are hating on art history... that's my future major!"

    There's nothing wrong with Art History. It is what you make of it. Or not. People think my major, Neuroscience, is really hard core. Honestly, it's just a big word which makes mouths drop--it wasn't a joke, but it could've been a lot more challenging. In retrospect, I wish I'd done a double major or concentration in economics.
  • InnocentIIIInnocentIII Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    But that's a problem with econ lately. I don't know if you've read Steven Leavitt's Freakonomics, but the new direction econ is taking is moving away from math and toward creative ways of looking through the same (econ) lens.

    I agree that a rigorous math program adds legitimacy to (what some consider to be) a joke social sciences major, but let's not forget that the more creative disciplines require brainpower too.

    I read an article (I wish I could find it) about how ibanking employers are moving away from the finance majors and toward humanities majors (even classics majors) because of their completely different background.
  • DenzeraDenzera Posts: 3,371Registered User Senior Member
    I read an article (I wish I could find it) about how ibanking employers are moving away from the finance majors and toward humanities majors (even classics majors) because of their completely different background.
    that hardly seems like a (i'm sorry, i really am) rational rationale.

    What value does a "completely different background" bring? I suppose you could hire some trailer trash too. Or some nomads from north africa. They bring a completely different background. Maybe ibanks should hire them too.

    Innocent, I don't know your background at all, but I'm typing this to you from inside an investment bank. Basically all of the employees here went to top US and british schools and (at least among those i've talked to on the professional side rather than the support-services side) tended to have hard quantitative backgrounds.

    None of which, of course, reflects at all on the comparative value of an Econ vs Math degree, to say nothing of a Sociology degree that was the original subject of this thread.
  • BleedingBlueBleedingBlue Posts: 122Registered User Junior Member
    I'm shocked by the condescending attitude toward the sociology major. I had no idea so many people lacked respect for it.
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