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What High Schoolers Can Do to Prepare as a Sociology Major

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Ronni Shaw in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream, Majoring in Sociology, on CollegeVine for more info.


What’s Covered:



Students interested in pursuing a sociology degree in college can begin to take some meaningful steps while in high school to prepare themselves for this goal. 


This article will discuss courses and extracurriculars to explore, strategies to secure strong recommendation letters, what sociology departments look for in students, as well as tips for researching college sociology programs.


Take Reading and Writing Courses


Majoring in sociology, or really any of the social sciences, requires a lot of reading and writing. You can prepare for this as a high school student, by being sure to take some courses in which you will be expected to read and write significantly and where you will learn critical thinking skills. Classes like this can help get you ready for the workload and type of work expected of sociology students.


Additionally, taking calculus or statistics courses in high school can help you get ahead on your sociology major – otherwise, you will need to take those courses in college. 


You can also use your high school courses to explore the social sciences and confirm your interest in them. Courses like sociology and human geography are definitely helpful, but not necessary to be eligible to study sociology at the college level. 


Plan Ahead for Letters of Recommendation


Your recommendation from your guidance counselor is incredibly important, both when applying to colleges, and throughout your college journey.


Getting to Know Your Guidance Counselor


As a high school student, you can plan ahead to ensure that you receive the strongest letter of recommendation possible from your counselor. 


Try to visit and get to know your guidance counselor as much as you can throughout your four years of high school. Not only can this help you with your process in applying to college, but it also allows your guidance counselor to get to know you better. The better they know you, the better they can write about you.Colleges want to see that your guidance counselor really knows who you are because these types of letters allow colleges to really get to know you as well.


As you work with your counselor, be clear about your intent to study sociology or your interest in becoming a social scientist. You can even ask your counselor to add this information to your letter of recommendation, which can be really powerful for schools to see.


Using Your Recommendation Letter in College


After you apply to college, you can keep a copy of your counselor’s letter of recommendation, as there may be future instances when you could need it. 


For example, if you are signing up for college classes and hoping to get into a higher level course, providing a professor with your letter of recommendation may make them more inclined to accept you into their class. 


Additionally, if you are applying to sociology-specific internships, this letter of recommendation could also help you stand out as an applicant.


Try Related Extracurricular Activities


The extracurricular activities that you do in high school, such as internships, volunteer experiences, or community service, can be helpful as you prepare to study sociology in college.


First of all, these sociology-related extracurricular activities can help you decide if sociology is really the right major for you. 


Additionally, your participation in these experiences can show the colleges that you’re applying to that your interest in sociology, as well as related social sciences, is serious.


These activities can also create a foundation for your college coursework and internships. They can really help you to be a more competitive candidate for placements for internships, especially in comparison to peers who may enter a sociology major in college without these important high school experiences to build upon. 


Research Sociology Departments and Programs


What Are Sociology Departments Looking For?


Sociology departments are looking for some key traits in future sociology students. 


Firstly, solid verbal and written communication skills are really important – sociology students are expected to participate in class discussions and deliver presentations, as well as complete various papers and writing assignments. 


Additionally, students need to be able to collaborate and keep an open mind, as sociology students are often expected to work in groups and confront complex concepts. 


Finally, skills in statistics and research are necessary for students to be able to analyze data and draw connections between what they are learning and the ways in which humans work within culture and society.


To prepare yourself to be a strong future sociology student, try to seek out opportunities in high school that allow you to build upon the verbal and written communication skills that you have as well as your critical thinking abilities and your ability to analyze data.


Explore Sociology Programs


Plenty of colleges and universities have strong sociology programs, so it can be to your advantage to begin exploring these opportunities while you are in high school. 


Sociology is currently a popular major, and lots of universities have sociology programs. Many schools, such as Washington University St. Louis, have sociology departments that closed in the 1970’s, but most of these departments have since reopened due to the many careers that are now available related to sociology. At Wash, sociology is now considered one of their top programs, and is a major reason that students choose that school.


Sociology programs can focus on many different types of study related to society, from gender issues to race issues, so when exploring programs, you can consider the individual strengths of the programs you are looking at. 


Small schools, rural schools, urban, suburban, and even “elite” Ivy League schools can all have really good sociology programs. It is possible to find a variety of sociology programs that fit for you, as target, reach and safety school options. At elite schools specifically, Duke University is known for its sociology department, but great programs are available at all of the Ivy League schools.