Dear Mom or Dad,
If your son or daughter is majoring in Sociology, don't worry. He or she will get a job. I won't claim that a Sociology major is a fast track to being rich, but I do think it can enrich a person's life and well-being. Seriously. If your child is majoring in Sociology, it probably means your child has a deep curiosity about the world. It probably means your child doesn't take things for granted, that (s)he doesn't view things as being "obvious" or "common sense." Your son or daughter is likely attracted to Sociology in order to make sense of the world. Simply put, your child is a thinker, and that's a good thing. The Sociology major develops critical thinking skills. The Sociology major develops problem-solving skills. The Sociology major develops communication skills. And a Sociology major is a sign that a student takes an interest in diversity and can work well with others.
Okay, you say, that's fine, even nice, but how about some practicality here? No problem. Think of all the jobs that aren't tied to a specific major. The person who sold you your last car probably has a college degree. But they didn't major in Car Sales. The person who helped you buy auto insurance or home insurance has a college degree. But they didn't graduate with an Insurance degree. The person you call when you have questions about your health insurance plan is likely to be a college graduate--and they didn't graduate in Health Insurance. You get the point. There are lots of jobs that don't exclude Sociology graduates. Keep in mind that if you don't pay your bills, you might get a call from a debt collector--and who knows, the worker might have a degree in Sociology!
Alright, maybe those jobs don't excite your mind and maybe your son or daughter wouldn't be happy at those jobs. Well, let's look at other options. Is your child thinking about law school? A degree in Sociology is good preparation for law school. Does your child want to help people? Meaning, might they go into Social Work or Counseling? To move up the ladder, they'll eventually earn a Master's degree in Social Work or in Counseling -- and a degree in Sociology won't prevent them from getting into those graduate programs!
Maybe your son or daughter would like to travel abroad to make a difference in lesser developed countries. Surely you've heard of the Peace Corps -- a perfect opportunity for Sociology majors! Maybe your child (who won't be a child forever--face it, they're actually grownups!) would like to teach English in Japan or Korea. Again, perfect for a Sociology major. If that's too much adventure for your taste, maybe you can convince your son or daughter to make a difference at home -- see AmeriCorps for example.
I've only scratched the surface here. There is much more available to the Sociology major. Sociology majors work in jobs that assist developmentally disabled individuals. They work in jobs that educate and counsel young people who are from disadvantaged (and sometimes troubled) backgrounds. They work in law enforcement.
In sum, Sociology majors do lots of things. In my experience as a Sociology professor who has talked careers with many students over the years, I find that students in Sociology are eager to help people and make a difference in life. They aren't always motivated by money and material goods. But don't worry, to major in Sociology is not to end up living in the Poor House. You can make a good living as a Sociology major. And what good is it if your child has a major that is more directly connected to making a lot of money but that major doesn't make your child happy? The happier your child is, the harder they will work at school. If they love Sociology, they will do well in Sociology. They will find a path to a job, even if the path bends now and again. Please don't stifle your child's interest in Sociology. Encourage it! Tell them to earn good grades and to get an internship. Tell them to volunteer during the school year and in summer. You know that life is about relationships and connections. And so teach your child to make connections through internships and volunteer opportunities (examples are United Way and Habitat for Humanity).
On a final and personal note: I majored in Psychology as an undergraduate. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Sociology. My friend's father was an influential administrator in our local school system. He encouraged me to get a graduate degree in Psychology so that he could get me job at the local high school as a counselor. I followed my heart and earned my Ph.D. in Sociology instead. Now I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Niagara University and have been Chairperson of the department for five years. Not everybody who studies Sociology will end up being a professor someday, but it's my hope that Sociology leads them to happiness and fulfillment, as it did for me.