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16 Weird College Classes That'll Make You Want to Go Back to School

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As the child of teachers who has spent 23 years as a student and most of the last decade as an educator, I know a little bit about what makes a good class. As much as I tried to stuff my schedules with the best and most exciting courses, my college experience can’t compete with this incredible list of courses that other American universities have to offer. These classes recognize the three “R’s” most significant to the average student today: ability to relax, relevant to their lives, and really, really ridiculously fun to attend.

You may need to be able to operate Hermione Granger’s time-turner or the Starship Enterprise to be able to attend all these, but, don’t worry, those issues might be covered on the syllabus.

The Food Courses:

objects-01771. The Art and Science of Beer: From Historical Perspectives to Brewing Techniques (St. Mary’s College of California)

Not only can you learn the science behind California’s many craft brews (and visit a local brewery) at SMC this year, you can also take my friend’s course devoted entirely to Breaking Bad.


2. Wine Appreciation Class (Purdue University)

Not a beer fan? Head to the Midwest and learn how to appreciate fine wines. (If you think this course would be better off at Sonoma State, I’d have to agree. But the CSU school appears to focus more on the business of the wine industry.)

3. The Ice Cream Short Course (Pennsylvania State University)

Prefer desserts? This seven-day intensive class offered annually at Penn State is certainly popular: “In its 119th-year history, the course has attracted more than 4,400 participants from every state in the nation and every continent except Antarctica." If Pennsylvania is too out of your way, here are some local spots you can get your ice cream on.

The Academic Courses:

emma watson raising hand4. Harry Potter: Literary Tradition and Popular Culture (Otis College of Art and Design)

Otis College is just one of the colleges that has jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon. As fascinating as this class might be, I’m still waiting for the MIT engineering course that’ll make my Nimbus 2000 broomstick actually fly.

5. “Heroes for Zeroes” and “Frozen Heroes” (Harvard University)

These courses, offered through Harvard’s Folklore and Mythology Program, explore the heroic epics and those particular to Scandinavia. Frozen fans need to learn to let their expectations go, if they anticipate an in-depth discussion of Elsa’s powers.

6. Dinosaurs and Other Failures (University of Michigan)

This Earth and Environmental Studies course title certainly got my attention. And the course description will surely make all the Dr. Ross Gellers of the world drool: “This course looks at the fossil record and the ecological causes of diversification and extinction of the ruling reptiles.”

judge judy gif7. "Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular 'Logic' on TV Judge Shows" (UC Berkeley)

My grandmother never graduated from the eighth grade, much less high school, but she would have been a natural in this course. Judge Judy should never be argued with, according to my grandmother, so perhaps this course just focuses on her brilliance?

8. Game of Thrones (University of Virginia)

“Winter is Coming” might be a bit of a misnomer for this literature course, as it is offered in summer school. However, I bet fans won’t care.

9. Philosophy and Star Trek (Georgetown)

Lieutenant Commander Data and Mr. Spock might do quite well in this class. Other participants, however, might need to refresh their theories on worm holes to answer the first questions on the course description: “Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?”

The Life Courses:

10. Beethoven and the Beatles (Vanderbilt University)

This isn’t your typical music appreciation course. Students in this music theory class study a concept in the context of a Fab Four album and then apply it to a Beethoven symphony or concerto.

41HZEGB0FEL._SX300_11. The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur (University of Washington)

My recent order at a local Peet's Coffee prompted the British barista to quip that I wanted a “Tea Pack” Shakur (I asked for two tea bags). Thus, the diverse extent of Shakur’s legacy is one that is still present today and deserves extensive analysis.

12. History of Tattoos (University of Redlands)

Curious to know what that cryptic symbol your new lover has tattooed on her left butt cheek really means? Perhaps this retired course could solve the mystery.

13. Sex and Love in Modern Society (Stanford University)

Speaking of new lovers, this revived course “attempts to shed light on contemporary issues of sexuality and romance” a.k.a. the current hookup culture. I’d be curious to see the homework assignments.

14. Conspiracy Theories (Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa)

A friend who took this course option by Professor Eric Juhnke swears she has never slept right since. The truth is out there…but will we ever really know?

Thriller(25)15. Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse – Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior (Michigan State University)

If you need more reasons to lie awake at night contemplating disaster, look no further than this online course. The description alone is enough to give me nightmares: “Students in survival groups will face multiple challenges and tasks as they attempt to survive the catastrophic event, escape death, and preserve the future of civilization.”

16. Underwater Basket Weaving (Reed College; UCSD)

Every undergrad’s dream, right?


Know of other unusual classes? Leave them in the comments!

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