Data on Entering Majors
Portrait of Entering Majors
What is the age and ethnicity of entering majors and the
education of their parents?
First semester sociology majors range in age from 17 to 53,
with the average age 25.5. Sixty-one percent of majors are women,
39 percent are men. Nearly a third have fathers whose highest
level of education was high school or less (28.2%), while a
third (33.4%) have fathers who have graduated from college,
have some graduate or professional education, or have a graduate
degree. Nearly half of the new majors have mothers who have
no college education (43.5%). Forty-three percent of new majors
are non-white, 10 percent are African American, 18% Asian, and
15% Hispanic/Latino. Consequently, a significant number of new
majors are women, nonwhite, and first generation with college
Where are they from?
Almost all new majors graduated from a high school in Northern
California (90%); the majority are from the immediate Sacramento
area. Thirty percent of new majors graduated in the top 30 percent
of their high school class, while a fifth graduated in the bottom
60 percent. Over three-fourths (76.9%) had not attended CSUS
previously. Most transferred to CSUS from Northern California
community colleges and about half from American River, Cosumnes,
Folsom, Sierra, and Sacramento City College. Hence, our majors
tend to be from the Sacramento area and performed fairly modestly
while in high school.
How many units do they plan on taking and what is their GPA?
The average number of units new majors are planning on taking
during their first semester as a sociology major is 13, with
about a third planning on enrolling for 12 or fewer units. Fifteen
percent of new majors have not taken any college level sociology
courses. Among new majors who have taken previous college courses,
most had taken introductory sociology, with a range of other
courses-- social problems, marriage and the family, race and
ethnic relations. Interestingly, a few new majors had taken
sociology courses here at CSUS, such as statistics, criminology,
courts and prisons, and race and ethnicity suggesting that the
department does recruit a few majors as a result of students
taking sociology classes at CSUS before they declare sociology
as their major. However, the vast majority are transfer students
to the department. A little over half of the majors are planning
on taking a minor (57.9%). Most minors are in related social
science areas, such as anthropology, ethnic studies, psychology,
and womens studies. Forty percent of new majors report
having a GPA of 3.00 or above on previous college course work.
Only 12% have a GPA of 3.40 or above, while a fifth (21.2%)
have a GPA of 2.50 or below. The average GPA of new majors who
have taken previous college units is 2.89.
How many hours are they planning on working?
Most new majors are planning on working. Only 11.8 percent indicated
they would not work while attending classes. Of those who plan
to work, the average number of hours per week is 20.9. A third
of the students plan on working more than 25 hours per week.
Why did they select sociology as a major?
More than 65% of the students responded that each of these reasons
were either very important or somewhat important.
* I always have been interested in studying people.
* I think it will prepare me for a job helping people.
* I enjoyed the first course I had in sociology.
* I think it might help me understand more about myself
* I think it might help me to understand my place in a global
and international world.
* I heard good things about the sociology department at CSUS.
The following are the least important reasons for selecting
sociology as a major.
* I am looking for a more general major than one that is focused
on career goals.
* My course work in sociology at a community college.
* I want to prepare myself to teach at a high school or college
* I think it might help me to change society.
* I heard it was not a difficult major.
It is interesting to note also that over 60 percent (66.7%)
of new majors had previously decided to major in another area
and then switched to sociology. The previous majors were communications
(3), criminal justice (8), liberal studies (2), physical therapy
(2), and then a variety of other majors from film to computer
science. Some of the reasons given for switching majors were
"after I took an econ class, business wasnt so interesting
anymore"; "I found myself more interested in sociology;"
"I need to be educated and try to educate others";
"I enjoy knowing why people act certain ways"; "I
took a sociology class and found I really enjoyed it";
Sociology is less dry"; "more interesting"; My
life itself, it has changed my goals since I last attended college";
"I found CJ to be boring after getting by AA degree";
"sociology gives a more realistic interpretation of how
and why people do what they do"; and "sociology was
a much more interesting major to me."
What background do new majors have in English, mathematics,
statistics, or computer science?
All but 7 of the new majors (82%) indicated they had taken at
least one English course in college, while two-thirds indicated
they had taken two and one-third three. All but 9 (76%) had
taken at least one math or statistics course, while 38% had
taken at least two math or statistics classes and 20% had taken
three. Six of the students (15%) had taken statistics. However,
only 35% of new majors had taken a computer science course,
and only one had taken more than one computer course.
What are the career goals of new majors?
Career goals cluster into four categories - not sure (13%);
teaching either in high school or college (26%), counseling/social
work (20%) and research (5%). Five years after graduation students
expect to earn on average $39,000, so their expectations are
What skills do the new majors consider to be important in
the work they wish to do?
New majors essentially believe that the following skills will
all be important to them in their careers. Over 90% believe
that reading, writing, critical thinking, interpersonal skills,
and people management will be very important or somewhat important.
Somewhat smaller percentages believe that data analysis (85%),
computer use (87%) and statistics (69%) will be very important
or somewhat important.