All Credit Hours Aren't Created Equal
College students don't have all the freedoms you might imagine. After taking general prerequisite courses and boring major-specific "corequisites," some schools even require symposiums on how to behave as human beings! After this barrage of mandatory tedium, who wouldn't want their electives to be fun? Here are some delightfully unique courses to fulfill the whimsy in us all.
Writing for Video Games and Emerging Media (Ithaca College)
Keats, Shelley, Byron and Longfellow are some of the driest poets that appear on most literature midterms. Luckily, 21st century writing can be vastly entertaining…if you're talking about the non-linear narratives of Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Red Dead Redemption, that is. Video games are one of the fastest emerging mediums for writers to sink their teeth into, and colleges, like Ithaca College in New York, which offers a "Writing for Video Games and Emerging Media" course, have taken notice. Long gone are the days of right-scrolling, silent, 8-bit heroes stomping turtles; here to stay are intricate, emotional story lines offering hundreds of hours of gameplay. Soon, studying "Zelda" may be more closely associated with "The Legend of…" than it is "Fitzgerald."
American Soap Operas (MIT)
Just when you thought MIT was only good for helping you cheat those pesky casinos, now they've cracking the daytime drama wide open with their course about soap operas. This study on genre will answer important questions like: "Why is the soap opera a unique medium?" "What constitutes transmedia storytelling?" "Are Bo and Hope headed for Divorce?" "Has Victor Newman been replaced by his evil twin?" and "Are Luke and Laura actually Siamese twins who are also mermaids?" Unfortunately, the syllabus is limited to American soaps, so, if you're looking to delve into telenovelas, sorry, maybe next semester.
The Game of Thrones (University of Virginia)
It was only a matter of time before cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones became a college course. Designed for both novices and veterans, this course at the University of Virginia dives into the world of Westeros without coming up for air; fortunately, "What is dead may never die." This four-week intensive dissects the first three show seasons and George R.R. Martin's first novel, aiming to please both book nerds and bingers. Stuffed with knowledge of characters, geography and racial/cultural significance, by course end "You'll know something, Jon Snow." Sadly this course is only available from June to July. Just keep telling yourself: "Summer is coming!"
Circus Arts (Triton College)
Bet you always thought circus training was limited to accredited clown colleges, didn't you? Well, for over 44 years, Triton College has been flipping that misconception on its ear; afterwards, it continues to flip the misconception over its shoulder and onto the flying trapeze without a net! With professional circus mentors on site (who stage live performances every Easter), students will learn: juggling, unicycle, gym wheel, various types of trapeze, cloud swing and more. Clowning is also offered, likely taught by creepy, creepy clown professors. Remember, that's Doctor Chuckles, to you!
Comic Books and Graphic Novels (University of Pennsylvania)
Not only are comics the fastest growing medium in our society today, but this course is offered at an Ivy League school, so you know it's legit! Since their revitalization in the 80s, funny books have vastly evolved. While superheroes are still prominent, you can find graphic novels about almost any subject. Study some of today's greatest authors: Alison Bechdel, Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Kate Beaton and more. And yes, these people are proper authors, not just "comic book authors." During UPenn's course on the subject, students will learn "the critical skills necessary to read and understand this deceptively complex medium."
Sociology of Miley Cyrus (Skidmore College)
This is a specialty course if there ever were one. Get ready to discuss race, class and gender in modern culture with the former Hannah Montana star as your litmus paper. "Smiley" Miley has gone through a lot over the past half-dozen years, just like our society. In this course at Skidmore College, students will explore her many stages: tween-aged Disney star, unwilling abstinence spokesperson, salvia advocate, naked celebutante, glam rocker, fad checker, SNL running gag, and host of The Voice. It's been a busy few years for the boisterous, bisexual beauty, and she still managed a successful singing/acting career amidst the chaos. Miley's the perfect classroom specimen, offering up more material than Alexander Hamilton and St. Thomas Aquinas, combined!
How to Win a Beauty Pageant (Oberlin College)
Wait! Is Oberlin College - the first university to admit women - also the first college to objectify them? Well, no… First off, numerous colleges have sordid histories of poor treatment toward women, some which continue to this day. Secondly, this particular course doesn't glorify pageants but rather explores various cultural mentalities surrounding them. Sure, that didn't stop community members from being "outraged." However, the offended masses fail to understand that colleges encourage participants to look at issues from all sides in order to make informed decisions. Plus, the class also takes a field trip to a local beauty pageant, which sounds pretty neat.
The Golden Age of Piracy (Eastern Illinois University)
Haven't you ever wanted to be a pirate? If you answered "no" to this question, you're a liar and should feel bad. And before anybody asks, this three-credit course is not about something boring like DVD or internet piracy, like some Eastern Illinois students believe. This course is about, swashbuckling, lice-ridden, plundering, booty-swapping, maniacal pirates through the ages. And while seaward piracy is out of style as of late - in favor of level-headed anti-pirates like Captain Phillips - it's only a matter of time before the tide rises again and this course's material will become quite relevant indeed. Yo-ho-ho!