Picking out a class schedule is hard. If you’re nerdy like me, you have to whittle down to the classes you really want to take. Chances are you want only the best teachers for the best classes.
As a recent college grad, I had many a semester like this – find all the classes I’d be interested in taking, map out a good schedule, and then narrow down what will actually work for me. It’s almost a shame that you’re whisked through in four years because I easily could have soaked up more knowledge. However, I say “almost” because of the senioritis that I developed over my ninth semester as an undergrad.
My diploma doesn’t say I’m certified to dole out college advice, though I’m going to do so anyway. I’ve been through it, and I want to offer some classes that I hope you’ll consider as you make your way through whatever institution you plan on attending. These classes are in no particular order.
1. Contemporary religion
Get an idea of what religions are out there. Depending on the type of community in which you grew up, you’re probably familiar with only one or two other religions. Even then, you probably only have a basic grasp of what they’re about and why people subscribe to them.
Take the time to learn about other religions because you’ll surely encounter them. You’ll begin to understand what others believe and why they do so.
My “a-ha!” moment during this class came when our professor was discussing the Mormon faith. He had just finished explaining to us that Mormons believe Jesus Christ appeared in North America. Someone raised their hand and ask him how Mormons could believe something like that, implying the idea that the son of God appeared west of the Atlantic was ludicrous.
“Well,” he said (and I’m not directly quoting word for word in this entire article), “it’s not anymore ridiculous than the Jews and Christians believing the story in the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament that God appeared to Moses as a burning bush.”
Educate yourselves about what others believe. Don’t think your way is the only way. Taking a class on religion should expand your mind.
2. Web design
Ask yourself: “What am I doing today that the Web doesn’t have a part in?”
Facebook. Twitter. News. Grades. Pop culture.
All of these things are either creations of or easily accessible via the Internet.
In grade school, we studied how to dissect sentences in order to build them. A verb has this purpose, a noun has that purpose. Why don’t we study how to build the Web? It’s a communication device, too. In my last article, I agreed with Douglas Rushkoff when he said we need to understand programming. I still do, but more generally, I think everyone should take a class where they can get the basics of the Web. From there, they can more easily understand how to post to a WordPress blog (like this one), how to find files, and just be a smarter consumer in the 21st century.
These technologies are everywhere. We should all be learning ways to use them better.
3. Journalistic writing
Having interned and now landed a full-time job in a business, I can say that communication is vital, whether it’s talking it through with my manager or colleagues, or simply sending somebody an update via email.
The chances that you’ll be doing some writing for the public-facing parts of your company might be pretty good. And there’s an even better chance that the writing will be part of your company’s blog. In addition to knowing how the Web works, you need to know how to write for it.
I know all kinds of job advice tells you communication is key, but they don’t really tell you how to get there. My suggestion would be to take a journalistic writing class. This allows for keeping things simple, which is a big plus on the Web. A journalistic writing class forces you to find primary sources whenever possible. Talk to somebody. Ask that person questions. Get to the meat of what you want to talk about.
Already, I’ve written a few dozen blog posts for Float, worked with our PR team to craft our message just wright, and edited a handful of research we’ve put out. I’ve used the skills I learned in my journalism classes for each one.
4. Political science / American government
As a com major concentrating in journalism, the holy grail for me was to wind up covering politics in Washington, D.C. Others had ambitions in fashion or sports, but I salivated at the thought of covering an election.
To do that, a political science or American government class is the best. I took the intro class during my last semester, and now I wished I’d minored in political science.
It’s amazing to me some of the people I talk to who have no idea how government works. It’s complicated. Not even the current Republican presidential candidates have a decent grasp on how some things work (no, Mitt Romney, you can’t just repeal Obamacare).
I’m not saying you have to agree with a certain party or ideology, but it really helps in understanding what’s going on in this country. What happens in Washington affects everyone. Get to know what shapes those decisions.
5. Business / accounting
My college experience was a constant evolution of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Apparently, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to take any classes in business or accounting. I regret that decision.
I realize now that no matter where you go, you’re going to have to have some understanding of money and budgets. Whether you actually have to do anything with that knowledge is another concern, but I know that, for me, I would’ve been wise to push my hatred of numbers aside to learn how to do this.
Which classes did you take that were helpful to you? What classes do you wish you would’ve taken that you didn’t?