Top 10 Unusual College Courses

Written by: Editorial Staff

November 10, 2011
Filed Under Education, Offbeat 

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One of the top ten unusual college coursesContributed by Rosemary O’Brien, Top 10 Guru

When I was a kid, I could not wait to get to college so I could take any course I wanted.

Gone would be the stupid art class where I had to make a vase out of clay just so I could get a C. Gone would be the book reports on books I never wanted to read. When I got to college, I thought, I would take classes I enjoyed.

The thing is I never went to a college that taught some of these classes.

In fact, had I come home with even a good grade in some of these classes, my father would have made me transfer very quickly. Read on. You will see what I mean when you check out some of these college course offerings from colleges and universities around the U.S.

10. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows (UC Berkeley)

One of the top ten unusual college course offerings

Let’s begin with this gem from UC Berkeley. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows is offered to students interested in majors that deal with logic and American popular culture. It delves into the thought behind the many illogical points of logic presented by some of the plaintiffs and defendants who come up against a judge on those legal TV shows. It allows students to dissect courtroom excuses a la Judge Judy without investing in a complete law library.

9. Comparative History of Organized Crime (Williams College)

One of the top ten unusual college course offerings

Have you ever wondered how the La Cosa Nostra began? How do they decide whom to whack? What’s it mean to “shake someone down?” All of this and much more about the history of the mafia is considered in this class about the history and culture of the mafia. Oh, and don’t forget your violin case!

8. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (MIT)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Have you ever wondered why good people do bad things? If so, this course will attempt to teach you why. The instructor, a well-known researcher of human behavior, explains how incredible amounts of stress and suggestion can lead to bad behavior in otherwise nice folks.

7. Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles (University of Wisconsin)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Getting credit for watching your soaps? This would have been the perfect class for many college students back in the days of Luke and Laura! The class takes soap opera characters and explores their relationships with their families.

6. The Science of Harry Potter (Frostberg)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Even though Harry Potter is fictional, the feats in these books are interesting. Using lab activities and demonstrations for the classroom and principals such as physics, this class discusses how all of the magic may have been possible if you lived in Harry’s magical world. Quidditch anyone?

5. The Amazing World of Bubbles (Cal-Tech)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Everything is related to energy, even bubbles. Bubbles are examined in this course (very carefully!) in order to learn about the potential energy available in the sudsy orbs. The instructor discusses how harnessing this energy can be put to constructive use.

4. Lego Robotics (MIT)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Making castles and Imperial V-Wing Starfighters with Legos is a lot of fun, but have you ever made a robot? Students in this class learn about creating robots with these little gems of construction. They then learn how to program them to do things such as find and follow a line on the floor and to push debris left in its path. This isn’t your toddler’s Lego class!

3. The Simpsons and Philosophy (UC Berkeley)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

This animated dysfunctional family apparently goes deeper than their pithy dialogue and nonsensical situations. Apparently, this rigorous class delves into the “deeper philosophical issues under all those ‘d’ohs’.” Who knew?

2. The Beatles (UCLA)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Those of us who adore the Beatles know that their themes are universal and may even consider their lyrics a form of literature. At the very least, they are an illustration of the 1960’s and the times in which they lived. Rediscover the joy of music with this class that gives the ardent Beatles fan everything he wants to know about this historic band.

1. Underwater Basket Weaving (Reed College)

One of the top ten unusual college courses

Here is the one you’ve been waiting for – Basket Weaving! A basket weaving class is always held up as the perfect illustration of a useless course. The thing is it’s a misnomer. In order to weave a basket, you have to soak the reeds in water so they become pliable enough to manipulate. Some schools have taken it to the extreme and had students go underwater themselves while they weave.

So next time your college-age child shows up with a course on his grade report that you think is a waste of his time, think about these courses. Some of these classes actually have merit. They teach about engineering, history, philosophy and literature. They just go about it in an unusual manner. Isn’t that why we go to college in the first place, to broaden our horizons?

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One Response to “Top 10 Unusual College Courses”

  1. Underwater Basket Weaving: Spring 2012 – Bwog on November 13th, 2011 10:19 pm

    [...] [...]