What’s in a Major?

Merriam-Webster defines sociology as “the study of society, social institutions, and social relationships.” I define sociology as the intersection of students, professors and topics trying to understand and solve social issues while building a community of thought and care in the process.

When I started at Yale, I was very lost on my academic path. While I loved Global Affairs, English and Music classes, it took me a while to find my center. It was only after spending a day going through Yale’s Programs of Study during the summer before my sophomore year that I found where my interests intersected: Sociology. As a concept, sociology is always confused with psychology and anthropology, but taking some time to learn about Yale’s sociology program helped me figure out how the conversations being held in those rooms resonated a lot with me. As someone who cares deeply about the way the social world, media, organizations and communities impact the person I have become and the people around me, I flocked to sociology and the diverse topics Yale’s faculty taught in that major.

Sociology students and professors at the sociology department dinner.

I chose to dive deep into the major and used my sophomore year to take different sociology classes from social theory to quantitative analysis of sociological issues to social inequalities in America. In all these classes, I participated in discussions that made me think about how people think in groups, how that group-thought leads to different types of lived experiences and how statistical data can map out the trends in those experiences.

The amazing Sociology faculty members teach classes that exemplify how applicable sociology can be to any career and topic. For example, my current research advisors, Vida Maralani and Frederick Wherry, focus on demographic analyses of education and the culture of markets, respectively. Other professors love teaching courses on health, the Middle East, social movements, social policy, reproduction and ethnic studies – all with a sociological mindset! We recently made a department video for prospective and current students to learn more about how applicable the major is and what students do with it!

Apart from the academics, sociology has been great for me because of the large advising and communal aspects. Each year, the department holds large dinners that allow undergraduate and graduate students to hang out with our great Sociology professors. At the most recent dinner we had in the fall, I entered after taking photos of New Haven for Professor Philip Smith’s Visual Sociology course and I saw Professor Smith eating with some of my friends in the major. After we joked about him seeing me doing my homework, I got to take some great pictures of the dinner and hear conversations ranging from sociological topics to professors’ stories about their kids. During the daytime, these same professors and graduate students help mentor and advise students in individual classes and in preparation for writing a senior thesis. Having this social and academic bond with professors seems perfect for a major that focuses so much on social relationships. While I would suggest sociology as a major for every Yale student, I can happily say that the exploration and social experience of many other majors matches mine, especially when students take the time to know their professors outside the classroom. It has been helpful for me in making my Yale experience memorable socially and academically.

Sociology students at the department dinner.