Social Capital for Sociology Majors: Applied Activities and Peer Networks A Publication of the American Sociological Association Roberta Spalter-Roth and Nicole Van Vooren Department of Research on the Discipline and Profession American Sociological Association Mary S. Senter Central Michigan University March 2013 A t its 25th anniversary, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) continued to promote the message that it has endorsed since its founding that colleges should be meritocracies focused on teaching, research, reasoned discourse, and the scientific method. Other kinds of activities such as student participation in community activities to bring about social change are regarded as “dumbing down” of the curriculum and spreading political views among students (Schmidt 2013). It is a message rooted in idealized recollections of how America’s colleges operated in the middle of the 20th century, before the advent of increased di- versity programs, women’s and ethnic-studies depart- ments, and service learning and community activi- ties that the association regards as anathemas. The article suggests, further, that NAS is facing a challeng- ing future, barring a major resurgence of traditional- ist thinking on college campuses, and the appeal of their message might not be enough to carry the group another 25 years (Schmidt 2013). Colleges are still meritocracies that emphasize teach - ing and research. However, as baccalaureate gradu - ates face a tighter job market and more difficulty in attending graduate school, efforts to increase their success at these post-graduation activities through providing additional social capital may be on the in- crease. Social capital may exist in the form of contacts and social ties so that individuals can access and use resources embedded in social networks to gain returns such as finding better jobs (Lin 1999). Sociology is a scientific, non-vocational major that concentrates on sociological concepts and skills, with more than 90 percent of students majoring because of their interest in these concepts (Spalter-Roth et. al 2013). Many departments and faculty members are creating learning activities for their students that take place outside of the traditional classroom in order to give their students the resources and contacts they need to succeed in the job market. This research brief examines to what extent departments are offering such activities, since opportunities for such experi - ences exist in an organizational context, and to what extent students are participating in them. The findings in this brief come from two longitudinal studies of senior sociology majors funded by the Na- tional Science Foundation. 1 The first tracked majors who graduated in 2005 before the Great Recession 1 The authors thank the Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation for supporting the 2005 and 2012 Bachelors’ and Beyond surveys.