Kailani Ridenour


University of California Berkeley

Gregori Class of 2014


Weighted GPA at Gregori: 4.0 or above

SAT Composite Score (2400 Scale): 1890

SAT Composite Score (1600 Scale): N/A

ACT Composite Score: N/A

How did you decide on what to major in?

Starting as a freshman in college, I had no idea what to major in. I knew I liked learning about people but did not have any idea about what field was right for me. My orientation advisor signed me up for an Introduction to Sociology course for my very first semester, just to fulfill a general requirement, and I ended up loving the class. Because it was an introductory course, we discussed a wide variety of topics studied in the Sociology field, so I was exposed to subjects I found really interesting. I ended up taking more Sociology classes out of interest each semester, and soon realized that that was where I was meant to be! If I could give one piece of advice to college freshman, it would be to choose classes based on what sounds interesting, and let your interests and passions lead the way! Take the first few semesters to try out new things and explore your curiosities, and that will lead the way.

Is there a lot of flexibility at your school in changing majors?

There is a lot of flexibility at Cal! I didn't declare my major until my second semester of my Junior year. Up until that point, I was technically 'Undeclared'. To graduate from college, you must fulfill General Requirements (called 'breadths' at UC Berkeley) and Major Requirements. General Requirements allow you to take a lot of different classes offered in different departments, so it is a great way to explore different majors. I would recommend fulfilling a lot of general requirements earlier, that way you can learn about what majors you like before you try to fulfill requirements within your major.

Are you considering a double major, or a minor in a different subject? Why?

I am not double majoring or minoring in a different subject. I have really enjoyed taking Sociology classes, and simply based on interest, have spent a lot of time just taking Sociology courses. Instead of spending time taking additional courses for a double major or minor, I have had jobs and internships at organizations around the bay area, which I feel has been more beneficial for me. I think if you are really passionate about multiple majors, it is a great way to explore your interests, but I have found there are other ways to explore interests outside of campus through jobs, internships, and volunteering as well!

How did you think you will use your major in a career?

My major has taught me how to study social life and social patterns in any context. I am particularly interested in researching and alleviated social inequalities, particularly in education, and the work in my major has prepared me to do so. There are so many careers you can pursue as a Sociology major and I really like having a lot of options in different fields once I graduate. I am currently considering entering the nonprofit sector, and I know what I have learned from my major will make me a strong candidate for a variety of jobs.

What is the workload like based on your major?

The Sociology department at UC Berkeley is heavily theory based. This means that a lot of the work I am assigned for my classes is reading classical and contemporary social theories and connecting them to social problems and social inequalities today. We are also assigned a lot of academic research papers to study, so learning how to comprehend academic literature (which can be very dense) is essential. The grading is my courses is based on papers, and I rarely ever have in-class exams. For someone who likes to read and write (like me!) the workload is manageable, but because it relies on your ability to read and write academic papers, it can be difficult for some.

Do you regret not being able to take any classes to prepare for your major? What classes would you recommend Gregori students to take based off of your major?

Gregori did not offer any Sociology courses while I was attending. While I was at Gregori, I never loved a particular school subject. I definitely think that if I could have been introduced to a Sociology class, or would have been in classes where sociological theory is used more explicitly, I would have realized my passion earlier. In the end though, I don't think my inability to take sociology prep courses at high school hurt me academically. Because I took the Introduction to Sociology course before any other sociology classes, I felt I had a pretty strong foundation.