Skip to comments.20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses Being Offered At U.S. Universities
Posted on 06/08/2013 8:48:59 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Would you like to know what America's young people are actually learning while they are away at college? It isn't pretty. Yes, there are some very highly technical fields where students are being taught some very important skills, but for the most part U.S. college students are learning very little that they will actually use out in the real world when they graduate. Some of the college courses listed below are funny, others are truly bizarre, others are just plain outrageous, but all of them are a waste of money. If we are going to continue to have a system where we insist that our young people invest several years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars getting a "college education", they might as well be learning some useful skills in the process. This is especially true considering how much student loan debt many of our young people are piling up. Sadly, the truth is that right now college education in the United States is a total joke. I know - I spent eight years in the system. Most college courses are so easy that they could be passed by the family dog, and many of these courses "study" some of the most absurd things imaginable.
Listed below are 20 completely ridiculous college courses being offered at U.S. universities. The description following each course title either comes directly from the official course description or from a news story about the course...
1. "What If Harry Potter Is Real?" (Appalachian State University) - This course will engage students with questions about the very nature of history. Who decides what history is? Who decides how it is used or mis-used? How does this use or misuse affect us? How can the historical imagination inform literature and fantasy? How can fantasy reshape how we look at history? The Harry Potter novels and films are fertile ground for exploring all of these deeper questions. By looking at the actual geography of the novels, real and imagined historical events portrayed in the novels, the reactions of scholars in all the social sciences to the novels, and the world-wide frenzy inspired by them, students will examine issues of race, class, gender, time, place, the uses of space and movement, the role of multiculturalism in history as well as how to read a novel and how to read scholarly essays to get the most out of them.
2. "God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path" (UC San Diego) - Who shapes our desire? Who suffers for it? Do we control our desire or does desire control us? When we yield to desire, do we become more fully ourselves or must we deny it to find an authentic identity beneath? How have religious & philosophical approaches dealt with the problem of desire?
3. "GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity" (The University Of Virginia) - In Graduate Arts & Sciences student Christa Romanosky's ongoing ENWR 1510 class, "GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity," students analyze how the musician pushes social boundaries with her work. For this introductory course to argumentative essay writing, Romanosky chose the Lady Gaga theme to establish an engaging framework for critical analysis.
4. "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame" (The University Of South Carolina) - Lady Gaga may not have much class but now there is a class on her. The University of South Carolina is offering a class called Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame. Mathieu Deflem, the professor teaching the course describes it as aiming to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music, videos, fashion, and other artistic endeavours.
5. "Philosophy And Star Trek" (Georgetown) - Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? That's the plan. This course is basically an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments.
6. "Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond" (The University Of Texas) - Why would anyone want to learn Klingon? Who really speaks Esperanto, anyway? Could there ever be a language based entirely on musical scales? Using constructed/invented languages as a vehicle, we will try to answer these questions as we discuss current ideas about linguistic theory, especially ideas surrounding the interaction of language and society. For example, what is it about the structure of Klingon that makes it look so "alien"? What was it about early 20th century Europe that spawned so many so-called "universal" languages? Can a language be inherently sexist? We will consider constructed/invented languages from a variety of viewpoints, such as languages created as fictional plot-devices, for philosophical debates, to serve an international function, and languages created for private fun. We wont be learning any one language specifically, but we will be learning about the art, ideas, and goals behind invented languages using diverse sources from literature, the internet, films, video games, and other aspects of popular culture.
7. "The Science Of Superheroes" (UC Irvine) - Have you ever wondered if Superman could really bend steel bars? Would a gamma ray accident turn you into the Hulk? What is a spidey-sense? And just who did think of all these superheroes and their powers? In this seminar, we discuss the science (or lack of science) behind many of the most famous superheroes. Even more amazing, we will discuss what kind of superheroes might be imagined using our current scientific understanding.
8. "Learning From YouTube" (Pitzer College) - About 35 students meet in a classroom but work mostly online, where they view YouTube content and post their comments. Class lessons also are posted and students are encouraged to post videos. One class member, for instance, posted a 1:36-minute video of himself juggling.
9. "Arguing with Judge Judy" (UC Berkeley) - TV "Judge" shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked "Did you hit the plaintiff?" respondents often say, "If I woulda hit him, he'd be dead!" This reply avoids answering "yes" or "no" by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called "a fortiori" argument ["from the stronger"] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on "Judge Judy" and "The People's Court" and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or "legal reasoning." Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.
10. "Elvis As Anthology" (The University Of Iowa) - The class, Elvis as Anthology, focuses on Presleys relationship to African American history, social change, and aesthetics. It focuses not just on Elvis, but on other artists who inspired him and whom he inspired.
11. "The Feminist Critique Of Christianity" (The University Of Pennsylvania) - An overview of the past decades of feminist scholarship about Christian and post-Christian historians and theologians who offer a feminist perspective on traditional Christian theology and practice. This course is a critical overview of this material, presented with a summary of Christian biblical studies, history and theology, and with a special interest in constructive attempts at creating a spiritual tradition with women's experience at the center.
12. "Zombies In Popular Media" (Columbia College) - This course explores the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts. Instruction follows an intense schedule, using critical theory and source media (literature, comics, and films) to spur discussion and exploration of the figure's many incarnations. Daily assignments focus on reflection and commentary, while final projects foster thoughtful connections between student disciplines and the figure of the zombie.
13. "Far Side Entomology" (Oregon State) - For the last 20 years, a scientist at Oregon State University has used Gary Larson's cartoons as a teaching tool. The result has been a generation of students learning and laughing about insects.
14. "Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing" (Swarthmore) - Do clothes make the man? Or the woman? Do men make better women? Or women better men? Is gender a costume we put on and take off? Are we really all always in drag? Does gender-bending lead to transcendence or chaos? These questions and their ramifications for liminalities of race, nationality and sexuality will be our focus in a course that examines dramatic works from The Bacchae to M. Butterfly.
15. "Oh, Look, a Chicken!" Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing (Belmont University) - Students must write papers using their personal research on the five senses. Entsminger reads aloud illustrated books The Simple People and Tobys Toe to teach lessons about what to value by being alive. Students listen to music while doodling in class. Another project requires students to put themselves in situations where they will be distracted and write a reflection tracking how they got back to their original intent.
16. "The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur" (University of Washington) - The UW is not the first college with a class dedicated to Shakur -- classes on the rapper have been offered at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard -- but it is the first to relate Shakur's work to literature.
17. "Cyberporn And Society" (State University of New York at Buffalo) - With classwork like this, who needs to play? Undergraduates taking Cyberporn and Society at the State University of New York at Buffalo survey Internet porn sites.
18. "Sport For The Spectator" (The Ohio State University) - Develop an appreciation of sport as a spectacle, social event, recreational pursuit, business, and entertainment. Develop the ability to identify issues that affect the sport and spectator behavior.
19. "Getting Dressed" (Princeton) - Jenna Weissman Joselit looks over the roomful of freshmen in front of her and asks them to perform a warm-up exercise: Chart the major moments of your lives through clothes. "If you pop open your closet, can you recall your lives?" she posits on the first day of the freshman seminar "Getting Dressed."
20. "How To Watch Television" (Montclair) - This course, open to both broadcasting majors and non-majors, 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. The means to achieve this aim is an approach that combines media theory and criticism with media education.
Are you starting to understand why our college graduates can't function effectively when they graduate and go out into the real world?
All of this would be completely hilarious if not for the fact that we have millions of young people going into enormous amounts of debt to pay to go to these colleges.
In America today, college education has become a giant money making scam. We have a system that absolutely throws money at our young people, but we never warn them about the consequences of all of these loans. The following is an excerpt from an email that one reader sent me recently about the student loan industry...
For example, one woman told me that her and her husband sat down and thought of every possible expense they could when they were applying for parent/student loan for their daughter. When the approval came back, they were approved for 7k more than they asked for how about ****! Of course at 7%, why not! Funny thing is they kept the 7k, because shes in wealth management and said she could easily get more than 7% in the stock market awesome! I have another example of a younger friend of mine who graduated law school from Vanderbilt with 210k in student loans. I asked if tuition was that much there. She said kind of, but they kept offering more than the actual tuition, so she took it and used it for a better lifestyle. Now 20% of her income goes to pay those loans, and its still not enough to touch one dollar of the principal so all she is doing is paying interest, and building on principal like a revers amortizing mortgage. To make it worse, she was able to save 25k, so she is going to buy a house somehow. Having explained to her that the best investment in the world is to pay off a high interest loan, she said Im tired of waiting to have a life.
In a recent article entitled "The Student Loan Delinquency Rate In The United States Has Hit A Brand New Record High" I detailed how nightmarish our student loan debt bubble is becoming. According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of student loan debt has risen by 275 percent since 2003, and it just continues to soar.
A college education can be a wonderful thing, but right now we have got a system that is deeply, deeply broken.
So what do you think about our system of higher education?
Actually, from an academic standpoint, some of those courses could be very enlightening if taught right. The Harry Potter one and the one on invented languages in particular. Sure, the example subject material is a bit mainstream, but the underlying theme is worth exploring. With the HP course, they are looking at the implication s of “history is written by the winner”, and the language course hopefully explores how languages develop.
They should post next to it how much money each one of these class’s is costing in tuition. Also what degree they apply to.
Most of them look silly, but #2, 5, and 6 actually sound interesting.
Facebook would not let me share....says it is “spammy”
or if they know they are taking trash like this, they deserve to have them live in their basement for he rest of their lives
As a parent of 2 current, private university students , I have insisted on a bit of control. It goes like this,”Your mother and I raised you from birth. You are going to College to form yourself into a productive, capable of surviving , adult. You have 4 years to do this. At the end of the 4 yrs you had best be prepared to survive financially, wholly , on your own merit and ability BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER AND I ARE GOING ON A LOOOONG VACTION. YOU ARE NOT INVITED. WE WILL CALL YOU WHEN WE GET HOME.”
That’s the problem; they’re usually open electives, so the students learn about the Entymology of the Far Side instead of Chemistry, or Arguing with Judge Judy instead of Philosophy. Otherwise, I’d agree with Post #2: for someone studying linguistics, a course about invented languages might be an offbeat capstone course.
And that nightmare of showing up for your final exam naked comes back again.
Confirmed: All but one that linked to a listing was a 100-level course.
When I went to the U of Washington in the ‘70s, this type of course was offered in an Alternate University run by the student association. Minimal fee, and no college credit. I took a couple of the courses for FUN.
Several of these courses look like they could be FUN. But for official credit, I think not!
Our 2nd will be joining her brother at a private U this fall. Our speech is similar until we get to the “because” part. Ours is “because there are four more coming behind you and you don’t have the time and we don’t have the money to waste.” (No long vacation for us.)
Most of these class if done right have more value than any thing in a ________studies course. Take “Oh, Look, a Chicken!”. Many people here could learn something about writing while distracted. If you read post they lose track. Many schools have tracks to run on. My college had squirrels in the trees. Hey look a red car.
Actually, a lot of them sound like courses that are trying to use popular culture as a hook to draw beginning students into studying something they might not otherwise consider studying. As long as the approach to the actual subject is solid, I have no problem with such courses being offered as intro level courses in any discipline, at any institution of higher education.
On the other hand, some of them sound like post-modernist dreck.
21. Dear Leader revisits Mans World, without teleprompter he chokes on Mr. Microphone.
#6 is actually an interesting-sounding, and possibly informative one. Of course, I’m in computer science and have a soft spot for language [and construction thereof].
Student who sent e-mail needs to learn how to speak grammar.
Concur. The “Inventing a language...” could be very much on point depending upon the major - and the seriousness with which it was taught.
I compare these to what I actually *took* in first year.
Physics 120-121 6 credits.
Required course. Honours applied Physics. No longer offered, but it used to be provided.
Chemistry 120-121 6 credits
Science Elective. Honours Chemistry. No longer offered.
Mathematics 120-121 6 credits
Required course. Calculus I and II, Differentiation and Integration.
Astronomy 101-102 6 credits
Science Elective. Survey course in Astronomy. Not a prerequisite for anything and no prerequisites required.
History + Philosophy of Science HIST 184/PHI 130 6 credits.
Elective. Joint course offered by History Dean and a philosophy professor. We covered important books in the history of science, some of them rather obscure.
Marquis de Condorcet, Darwin, Copernicus, Galileo, Francis + Roger Bacon. Descartes.
If you haven’t read it already, read, “the New Atlantis”.
Which course of study do you prefer?
hear you loud and clear. We also have a 12 year old. He is VERY motivated. When his sister visited Mercer, he got an up close and personal look at what outstanding academics can do.
Two years later he went with us to visit what would become his brothers college. Birmingham Southern University. Again he came away with understanding.
He says he wants to go to Annapolis. As a Navy vet, (2nd class petty officer) I could not be prouder than to have one of mine become one of the Navy’s fair haired boys. Hope he gets his wish and I get a Naval Officer of the Line.
I met Gary Larson at a book signing years ago. I think he would chuckle over the insect course. A louse, beetle and butterfly carry his name in scientific notation according to wiki.
The only one on your list I have NOT read is the Marquis.
Interesting words, would you not agree?
Especially since I am the definition of blue collar. I have twice now declined office work for significantly better pay.
If #20 included “how to program a VCR,” then I would enroll!
When I was in college, there was a 300-level course for senior English majors on three books: Mann’s Magic Mountain, Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The prerequisites were the necessary lower-level courses and German and French.
The idea of a course in Lady Gaga doesn’t really give me the old thrill of admiration I had for those seniors. Nice try, though.
I was able to convince the dean to skip first year english for that history/philosophy course. It was offered later as a third year course. Which is probably what it should have been in the first place, but it was a great course.
We were assigned Condorcet’s ‘historical progress of the human mind’. Descartes was his ‘discourse on the method’. Both which I found immensely helpful later on.
I can see possible value in 13 and 20. The Far Side is an obvious hook to draw students in to studying bugs. Sort of comic relief for the serious study this cherry is laid on. I.E. studying BUGS does have its uses, for forensics and all sorts of scientific applications.
As for 20 if it’s taught correctly, it could well alert students to how the media can be use for propaganda and that what is NOT said is as important as what is not said.
“Zombies In Popular Media” must be a biographical review of the life of Chris Matthews.
“yes....I am majoring in Tupac Shakur Literature....with a minor in Bullet Hole Forensics”. /s
Craziest college course I had was Basketball Officiating....and that was to satisfy any phys ed requirement some potential 4yr schools had
There is an education opportunity here. I recent;y read that a trade school in CA offered a software engineering program that was 9 weeks long and cost $11K. It only taught the technical courses of a software engineering degree.
Imagine if schools around the nation offered these kinds of programs in mechanical, electronics, optics, computer science, chemistry, physics, etc. In 9 weeks you get an equivalent of a BS degree. A motivated individual could get multiple discipline certifications at the engineering level in less than 1 year and for less money than just a freshman year at many colleges.
As a side benefit of getting a very quick technical education, it would remove the opportunity for liberal indoctrination.
One more benefit. If you are older and stuck in a dead end career, you would be able to change all of that with $11K and 9 weeks of your time. That sure beat the alternative of 4 years of college, massive debt and maybe missing the window of opportunity on good jobs.
“If #20 included how to program a VCR, then I would enroll!”
VCR...probably have to take an archaeology class for that one.....
I took Intro to Fencing as an extra PE in college. Not exactly useful in the age of gunpowder, but I wanted to learn about it, and it proved to be my only opportunity to do so. Most of these classes look like some sort of freshman elective- I doubt very seriously they were required for a major, and at most might qualify for meeting some requirement. If one has a beef with what gets taught at colleges, one should take a look at useless majors or degrees- usually something like “African-American Studies” or “Women’s Studies” which have no academic value and no practical value either.
Those are electives that serious students take, engineering, math science, pre - med. Those are the only classes where the nerds can mingle with the hot communications majors, so they serve an important purpose.
The world is divided between those who understand that "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" is a serious question, and those who don't. Once upon a time it was theology and philosophy, and now it is physics, that reaches for deliberately silly constructions in an attempt to visualize an abstraction that challenges most people's powers of analysis.
Universities traditionally took as their goal the pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful. These were assumed to be complementary if properly understood, just as all subjects were thought to be converging approaches to the same Truth. Interdisciplinary studies were meant not just to produce "well-rounded" graduates; the insights of one discipline should inform, sometimes confirm, and sometimes challenge other disciplines. Hyper-specialization tends to make this a remote prospect in many fields today, but the underlying principle is sound.
Opposed to all this is the modern cult of relativism and subjectivity, with the emergence of programs of study focused on neurotic self-absorption and the cultivation of differences. The traditional concept stressed universals and objective truth, while the modernists seem to have given up on that project. Students today are being cheated.
Agree with your post 100%
I went to a two-year nursing program for the same reason. When I finished, I worked as an RN while finishing my bachelor’s degree. The BSN classes were mostly irrelevant BS....hoops I had to jump thru to get a piece of paper that would allow me to move on to grad school. They had absolutely zero impact on patient care or my practice as a nurse.
...and upset the left's academia assembly line of fresh robots? Don't count on it.
I teach a Harry Potter literature class as an elective and I’ve been asked to teach it at our community college. We delve into the Nazi allegory, the role of alchemy, Biblical influence, mythology, etc. It’s my favorite class, and a favorite of my students as well. Some kids even take it a second time knowing that they will not receive credit for round two!
Because they knew it was eventually THEIR money on the line, they didn't waste time on silly courses. They got what they needed for basic courses, and what they wanted for their majors, and limited their debts as much as possible.
Invented languages is fascinating. Why should something so central to humanity be left to chance and idiots (see addition of “assault weapons” to English)? Esperanto was an honest attempt. Klingon is surprisingly well done. Tolkien spent much time creating Elvish etc. with good results. A fine endeavor requiring deep understanding; why not have a course in it?
Most of those don’t sound bad. Taking an occasional fun course is good for one’s education.
here’s a useful class:
University gun class to focus on safety and training
I thought people used to go to “The Learning Annex” to take such courses.
The military academies are still great, even if PC is creeping in. My oldest didn’t want the full immersi8om, so he opted for AF ROTC. He hasn’t cost me anything since his freshman year, and even that was pretty cheap after scholarships.
I know better than to type without my reading glasses on, but I still do it anyway.
Many of these courses strike me as legitimate, if not for the [intentionally] catchy titles. As an English graduate who dabbled a little bit in linguistics, we were briefly taught something like #6 - though it was a little early for Klingon, we looked at Esperanto and another science-fiction language, Laadan.
Give some of these courses less provocative names - “Historical Revisionism,” “Artificial Languages,” “The Portrayal of Science in Popular Entertainment,” or “Critical Thinking and the Media,” to name a few, and they would pass with hardly a glance from those crusaders who believe most of what post-secondary students are being taught is junk. (Not that I would disagree with the crusaders on every point.)
Sometimes the title is a hook to draw in students who just need a distribution requirement. "Far Side Entomology" may just use cartoons as a gimmick to attract attention from students who don't particularly care about bugs.
Or the classes are freshman writing seminars that use clothes or cross-dressing as themes to get students writing. I'm not saying it's a good idea or a worthwhile use of one's time, but it's not quite as crazy as it might at first appear. Sadly, a lot of freshmen are more interested in clothes closets and Lady Gaga than in Medieval poetry.
Belmont, a Christian university, actually put the bit about the chicken/distraction course on one of their web pages. People who come to their site scratching their heads about the crazy course, might just find other things more to their liking on the site or at the college.
Gary Larson had taken several entomology courses and all of his “bugs” are easily identifiable. If you know the names of the insects, and their life cycles, then the cartoons are real funny.
My favorite one involved a bar scene and a male hitting on a female with the immortal line that he had 3 days to do this and then he was going to die. Well that is true for the Ephemoroptera, they emerge as adults and have a scant 3 days to mate, produce a clutch of eggs and then they die. So to us entomologists, that's real funny.
I can also do open heart surgery on cockroaches, but require payment in advance with no refunds.
Actually, entomology might not be a bad course. I took introductory entomology in college and it was one of the most interesting courses I ever took. I can still look at a ‘bug’ and sort of figure out if it is a coleoptera or a hymenoptera and certainly can figure out if it is an anarachnid.