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The Craziest College Classes in the Country: Fall 2011 Edition

As college students, most of us are required to take general courses like calculus and biology. But after these are taken care of, we get the freedom to explore other subjects that we’re actually interested in. Elective classes are usually associated with fun and intrigue…some a little more than others. What if you could take “The Science of Superheroes,” or “Zombies in Popular Media?!” Believe it or not, some students have these course titles listed on their transcripts. Once again, HC has rounded up the craziest college classes from around the nation. Check out this article for our picks from last year’s course catalog. Read on and prepare for major college class envy!

Alfred University, “Maple Syrup”
How would you like to study the sticky, sweet stuff you drizzle on your morning pancakes? At Alfred University, students can take a seminar all about maple syrup! The course description says, “This class will explore the history of maple syrup production, discover the ins and outs of making syrup, create (and eat) some sweet confections, and take field trips to local producers, restaurants and festivals.” What could be sweeter than that?

Rochester Institute of Technology, “Underwater Basket Weaving”
RIT undergrad Jenna Deutsch knows that her school offers some quirky classes. But “Underwater Basket Weaving?!” Now that’s a first. According to the university website, honors students can “Unwind in a unique utopia while uttering about umpires, undertakings and underwater basket-weaving.” We can’t think of a better way for all those talentedyoung minds to spend their time.

Ohio University, “Scuba Diving”

Swim 23 yards underwater, survival float for 7 minutes, and tread water with no hands. Sound easy enough? If you can pass the swim test, consider yourself enrolled in OU’s scuba class. OU Student Jessica Salerno says,It’s actually pretty intense. You have to know how to use all the equipment and take regular tests on every aspect of scuba diving. You also have to pay extra to take it and if you pass all the tests at the end you get your license!”
Centre College, “The Art of Walking”
Tired of sitting in a cramped classroom? Then sign up for this outdoorsy class, where students ponder philosophy while embarking on three-hour long walks. Ken Keffer, who teaches the course, leads pupils on treks through battlefields, farms and nature preserves in the surrounding area. What better way to learn, reflect, and exercise all at the same time?

University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Harry Potter: Ethics and Imagina”

You’ve read the popular books and seen the highly anticipated movies, but have you taken an exam on Hogwarts History? Most Harry Potter fans would jump at the chance to take a class centered on the series. UAB student Jaime Ritter says that her school offers a solution to your wizardly wishes. “It’s an English 400-level class. It dissects all the books and their summaries, symbolism, and the socio-ethics of both the wizarding and Muggle worlds.”
UC Berkeley, “Chocolate: History, Culture, and Science ”

Calling all foodie friends and cultured connoisseurs! This class will satisfy your chocolaty cravings and make you think of dessert in an entirely new way. According to the course description, students will spend the semester learning about the technical aspects of chocolate by delving “into the world of chocolate research, finding out what commonly held ideas are being debunked, and asking questions as-yet unanswered about the culture, history, and science of chocolate.”

University of Oregon, “Love and Sex”
According to U of O student Jessica Williams, this class is different from anything most students have experienced. During the semester, you study the topics of love and sex by examining animal behavior. “Learning about love and sex through the scientific study of monkeys is quite interesting!” she says. “The course ended up being challenging and fun. Watching videos about couple drama from monkeys in the wild was unlike anything I’ve done in other classes I have ever taken.”
Montclair State University, “How to Watch Television”

Broadcasting majors are used to studying media and its impact on society. But at Montclair State, anyone can enroll in “How to Watch Television.” Imagine a class where flipping through channels is actually an assignment. MSU’s website says that this class is about “analyzing television in the ways and to the extent to which it needs to be understood by its audience. The aim is for students to critically evaluate the role and impact of television in their lives as well as in the life of the culture.” So next time you’re watching the tube, don’t feel guilty about putting off that exam prep. Technically, you are studying, right?
Boston University, “Alien Worlds”
Interested in outer space and extraterrestrial life? BU’s Astronomy department offers a course especially suited to you! In “Alien Worlds,” students investigate stars, planets, and the possibility of other life forms. The class even provides opportunities to use telescopes. Recent BU grad Bekah Handler says, “I had always wanted to take an astronomy class. The topic seemed fun and would satiate my curiosity about outer space…and the possibility of extraterrestrial life!”

University of Virginia, “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity”
Sure, you go to her concerts and blast her lyrics on your iPod speakers, but have you thought about the residual effects of Lady Gaga’s massive media presence? University of Virginia’s popular class focuses on gender boundaries and how Lady Gaga challenges them. During the term, students study social divides while honing in on their argumentative essay writing skills. So there’s some work involved…but it’s hard to complain when the topic is none other than the Lady Gaga.
Jenna Deutsch, Rochester Institute of Technology
Bekah Handler, Boston University
Jaime Ritter, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Jessica Salerno, Ohio University
Jessica Williams, University of Oregon

Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. After her short story was published in a recent book, she decided to explore a new facet of writing and became involved with student newspapers and magazines. Between interning, taking classes, and exploring San Francisco, Dani is embracing the new opportunities that city life brings. Her true loves include traveling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food related!
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