Who Said Learning Can't Be Fun? Interesting and Odd College Classes
Did you know that at some schools you can take a classes on Harry Potter, how to watch the TV show The Wire, and even one on Lady GaGa’s (actual) fame? Many colleges these days are offering interesting course selections that take pop culture and familiar icons and use them as tie-ins to deeper, more intellectual ideas and lessons.
At IvyWise, we always stress the importance of taking a challenging and rigorous course load during high school as a way to prepare for the level of course work in college and to make your grades and transcript stand out during the application process.
In college, however, the restrictions on course selection, with the exception of the classes required to graduate, are very limited. You can take pretty much whatever classes you want!
And at some schools, certain courses extend way past your typical literature and science classes, and expand on topics that, on the surface, seem completely nonacademic and absurd.
Here’s a list of some of the wackiest and most interesting courses offered at US colleges and universities:
Maple Syrup (Alfred University) – Everyone loves pancakes! And what is this delicious breakfast treat without maple syrup? In Alfred University’s maple syrup course, students learn about the history and production methods of maple syrup, as well as how to cook with it. Students even get to go on field trips to local maple syrup producers, restaurants, and festivals to get some “hands-on” lessons with the sticky treat and explore the local community.
Learning from YouTube (Pitzer College) – No, this isn’t a class on funny cat videos. This course at Pitzer explores how the era of democratically available outside channels for production and distribution of media (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) is upon us, and evaluates the repercussions of society using this media primarily for making and watching those funny cat videos.
Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame (University of South Carolina, Columbia) – Believe it or not, there’s a lot you can learn from Lady Gaga. This sociology class at the University of South Carolina focuses more on the sociology of pop culture and music, with Lady GaGa’s monumental rise to fame in a short period of time as the main example. Students will look at the factors of media, marketing, entertainment law, social issues, among other things, to examine the culture of fame in America and the world today.
The Art of Walking: Sidewalks (Centre College) – In this course at Centre College in Danville, KY, students don’t just walk around (although there is plenty of that) practicing good sidewalk etiquette. The class is actually a close examination of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Students go on “course walks” throughout their study of the work as a way to form a connection between reading Kant’s critique and experiencing a personal judgment of nature and beauty in settings both man-made and natural.
Philosophy and Star Trek (Georgetown University) – This course is pretty self-explanatory, but very cool nonetheless. This course at Georgetown focuses on certain philosophic themes that come up time and time again in Star Trek. Students will ponder questions and themes like: Is time travel possible? What is the relation between your mind and your brain--are they separate items or identical? Could a machine someday think?
While admissions officers are evaluating you for your strength of course work, you should be doing the same to the schools you’re applying to. Since you have much more freedom in college to choose your courses and expand your interests, it’s important to look at the courses offered to determine if a college is a best-fit school for you. While you shouldn’t base your college decision on that Engineering of a Death Star course, it’s important to know that a campus can fulfill even your wackiest intellectual needs.