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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges with Quirky Summer Courses

No one wants to spend the summer sitting in a college class, however for many students, summer courses are a great way to stay on track for graduation in four years. Summer is meant to be fun, so if you have to spend it in a classroom, why not make the most of it? Here are some of Dr. Kat’s favorite colleges that offer unusual and wacky summer courses.

Michigan State University
Emergency preparedness is important when catastrophe strikes. Maybe you have an “in case of emergency” plan for hurricanes or tornadoes – but what about zombies?

In Michigan State University’s Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse – Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior class, students gain a social work course credit by analyzing how humans behave in catastrophes, through the lens of the popular “zombie apocalypse” scenario.

Throughout the course, students are assigned to survival groups and tasked with navigating multiple challenges that must be solved as a whole. The class asks probing questions like: Why do some people survive and others don’t? How would you prepare? Do you have the ability to preserve the future of civilization?

Skidmore College
This small liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, NY gained some notoriety this spring after the announcement of a new summer course: The Sociology of Miley Cyrus.

While a class entirely about Miley Cyrus and her career may seem questionable, it’s actually a great way to fulfill a lacking sociology credit. The title of the course is meant to grab students’ attentions, and has done exactly that.

The course is actually a study in race, class, gender, and how each is affected by pop culture and mass media, with Miley Cyrus as the case study. Students will explore sociological theories and critique the media’s approach to “the Miley problem.” This course is a great example of getting students interested in a not-so-glamorous topic by presenting it from a perspective with which many students are familiar.

Boston University
If you’re a student at Boston University, chances are you love the city of Boston and everything about it. Students at BU can take their love and appreciation one step further by enrolling in any of the eight Boston Studies courses offered during summer sessions.

Students can earn general requirement or elective credits by taking classes like The Irish in Boston (humanities), Boston Harbor (earth science), Boston’s Museums (art history), and A Social History of Boston’s North End (sociology). In these courses, the city of Boston acts as a living classroom, giving students insight into a variety of academic areas while also learning about the place they now call home.

DePaul University
Students at DePaul University who need a theatre or fine arts credit this summer, look no further than American Funny: Stage Comedy from Groucho Marx to Tina Fey.

Although on the surface this course might seem like it would be full of class clowns, it actually serves as a great look into certain aspects of American stage comedy, including stand-up comedy, an often-overlooked genre of theatre.

From the history of stage comedy to techniques like delivery, content, and style, students learn about the evolution of the genre and what makes stage comedy so funny. By introducing, or re-introducing, students to popular and successful figures in stage comedy, students will learn the elements of comedy in the context of their favorite performers – and have a few laughs along the way.

Washington University – St. Louis
As we’ve seen with Skidmore’s Miley Cyrus course, Rutgers’s Beyonce class, and University of South Carolina’s Lady GaGa course, classes rooted in pop culture and current events are popular with college students. But what about studying a pop culture event’s effects as they’re happening?

In Washington University – St. Louis’s Soccer and the Global Village class, students have been spending this summer learning about soccer’s impact on society, commerce, and entertainment, all while following the World Cup from start to (soon-to-be) finish.

Students are gaining communication credits as they examine the history of the World Cup, it’s cultural footprint, and how soccer is viewed in America and across the globe. By following the events on and off the field, and tracking its impact in real-time, students are gaining a better understanding of how events like the World Cup impact local and global communities.

Other colleges that offer fun and funky, yet educational, summer courses include University of Maine, Rutgers University, University of California – Berkeley, and University of Florida.

Taking the right courses is key to a fulfilling education, whether you’re in college or still in high school. High school students should be taking challenging courses that interest them in order to facilitate a successful college admissions experience and prepare for college itself. For help with course planning this fall, contact us today for more information on our ongoing counseling programs.

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