The Bachelor’s and Beyond study also dem- onstrates that many of our sociology majors com- bined both idealism, the desire to understand and change the world for the better, with careerism, a desire to secure a good job or a position in graduate school. Students do not pick sides in the debate about whether sociology is best defined as a liberal or a practical art. Regardless of their orientation, the study findings show that the majority of students who responded to the survey were likely to enter the labor force after completing their undergraduate degrees, and they express concerns about the quality of the career and graduate school advising they received. The study reveals that many student re- spondents did not highlight the sociological skills that they learned in their programs on their re- sumes nor discuss these skills with potential em- ployers. Because sociology attracts majors who do not have high levels of social capital (because 326 Teaching Sociology 38(4)
of their minority group status or their parents’ lack of postsecondary school experience), it is especially important that faculty, departments, and the discipline provide guidance to students in navigating the transition from college to post- collegiate life. As they move away from their undergraduate years, survey respondents’ satisfaction with the major declined, but those who perceived their jobs as being close to the sociology major are more satisfied. For departments that wish to increase their enrollments and their alumni’s satis- faction with the major, helping students to identify the skills that they have learned, recommending or providing experiences that assist students in exploring careers, and suggesting the kinds of jobs that reflect their sociological education could help meet these goals. In this article, we discussed the implications of the findings from the Bachelor’s and Beyond pro- ject for faculty members and their departments. We suggest that departments consider ways of improving career guidance without turning faculty members into career counselors and without ab- solving our students who are idealists and career- ists from the ultimate responsibility of securing their own futures. Many departments may benefit from enhanced ties with career services units on their campuses and with their program alumni. Further, we encourage sociology faculty to create classroom and out-of-classroom activities for stu- dents that combine career exploration with the rig- orous pursuit of the core knowledge, theory, and methods that are essential to the major. Finally, we suggest that some departments might want to develop a limited number of new courses (such as proseminars) or might package existing sociol- ogy courses in new ways to serve better the needs of students to support themselves in the current recessionary economy. Incorporating activities that emphasize the relationship between sociolog- ical knowledge, marketable skills, and future ca- reers is an important future direction for
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- Winter '20