Unusual college courses you wish you took
(CNN) — Admit it. You took one or two of “those” courses in college.
You know, the kind of class that made your parents stop reading the newspaper and glance up at you with that “Seriously?” look. You convinced them that this was part of the college experience and necessary to a well-rounded education.
To be fair, maybe some of these different curriculum offerings might have been required if you had an out-of-the-ordinary major. But we’re going to guess that most of you took some strange classes for fun — and to keep your sanity.
Put yourself on a college campus today and you might be tempted to take some of these actual courses that we found in college catalogs. (Note to incoming freshmen who are registering now for the fall: You didn’t get the idea here.)
Do you find math dull, uninspiring? There’s a new game in town. Consider Basic Slot Math at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (where else?) The class is an offering of the UNLV International Gaming Institute. Even the course description isn’t the stuff of standard algebraic monotony: “How do slot machines produce a profit, or for that matter, how do all casino games produce a profit?” What are the odds on getting into this class?
Popular culture is awash with zombies. At Chicago’s Columbia College, you can take this fascination to an academic level by taking Zombies in Popular Media. Explore “the history, significance and representation of zombies in horror and fantasy texts.” The course demands look pretty intense, so you may want to hope for the zombie apocalypse to preempt the final exam.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a course in Digital Poetry, where you can experiment with creating poetry for wireless access on handheld devices. Flash-animated poems, digital videos and interactive poems are all elements of the syllabus.
Never thought it could be done.
An approach to try.
Students who major in culinary arts and food service have the added benefit of being able to eat their work. At Austin Peay State University, they can also carve their way to banquet greatness. There’s a three-credit course in Ice Sculpture that includes fundamentals of ice selection, storage, even handling. (Cheat sheet: Forget the Tupperware, think really cold.) And if that career in food service doesn’t pan out, you could always take your talents to Harbin, China, over spring break.
Speaking of taking a break, the University of Iowa offers a course on The American Vacation. It’s a kind of social history course, an examination of the “cultural significance of contemporary patterns” in where we go and what we do when we decide to unwind. Whether you’re into Disneyland or Wally World, this sounds like a diversionary way to delve into American history. Is there a lab for this one? Sign us up!
If you took philosophy classes, you probably focused on topics like logic, ethics, and reasoning. At Georgetown University you can study all those subjects but you can also sign up for Philosophy 194: Hallucinating. In this class, students will examine different aspects of “reality” – from why we believe false things that people tell us to optical illusions. The course description offers questions that will be addressed: “How can we be sure that we’re not mistaken about everything? What kinds of things can we know for sure? What is knowledge anyway?” This is mind-bending stuff. Just thinking about it induces a headache. Why would anyone be obsessed by these things? What if that weren’t a rhetorical question?
A course that seems to make everyone’s annual list of unusual classes is Montclair State University’s How to Watch Television. Fascinated with the antics of real housewives, smooth-talking bachelors, comical office workers and rugged deep-sea fishermen? Fancy yourself a TV critic? Put that hidden talent (and your addiction to all things TV) to practical use as you analyze television and its impact on modern culture. You might discover that you weren’t the only kid who wished his last name was “Walton,” “Huxtable” or “Soprano.”
Feeling smart? Occidental College offers a course titled “Stupidity.” We’re not kidding. Before you congratulate yourself on finding a potential ‘easy A’, read the course description: “Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite. It is an artifact of our nature as finite beings and one of the most powerful determinants of human destiny.” Uh…yeah. Looks like it might be worth convincing your Phi Beta Kappa roommate to enroll in this class with you and engage in some ‘collaborative learning.’