Picking college courses can be tough, so we asked college grads to share classes they've taken that had a lasting impact on them.
1. Intro to Knowing Nothing
Despite being a music major, one of the general ed prerequisite courses I took was "Evolution of the Cosmos." It really humbled me, and I struggled to pass it — the concepts were way too advanced for my simple musician brain. But because of it, I started to approach music differently, with a renewed sense of curiosity and reverence. Learning about how big and crazy the universe is made me respect what little I do know.
2. Conspiracy Theory
I took a general survey course on geopolitical basics called "World Politics." Turned out the professor was an absolute nutcase who told us on the first day that he had never graduated from high school and had falsified transcripts to get his PhD. This dude took us on a tour of outsider political theory that blew my little 18-year-old mind. All of it was meticulously documented and researched; these were things that were dismissed as conspiracy theories in their time, but then 30 years later, some documents get unclassified and — whoops! — turns out it was true. It created in me a questioning nature about authority and the sense that there is always more going on than appears on the surface.
3. A Crash Course in Explosions
Two classes stood out for me: "Cultural Representations in Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Critical Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer." We analyzed and discussed the shows ad nauseam for months. By the end, I had a totally different outlook on television and film (still love TNG, but not so crazy about Buffy anymore). But, more importantly, I learned how to analyze something I love objectively, and how to turn that analysis on and off — sometimes you just gotta enjoy watching things explode for two hours.
4. OH (Crap) Chem
In my first-semester chemistry course, our professor explained to us the structure of an atom. Well, apparently, most of an atom is made up of "empty space." That means every physical thing you can think of is made up of nothing. I changed majors the next semester; chem got too real.
5. Bollywood Symbology
I took "History of Indian Cinema." We discussed the different regions of India and how their locations, culture, and customs affected the type of movies they create and value. I signed up because I like watching Bollywood films, but it was fascinating to see how many unseen factors influence what you seeing on the screen. I got a glimpse into the meaning behind imagery and symbols used that I never had a reference for before. There are so many more layers to decode in Indian movies than your typical Hollywood blockbuster, and it became a much more interesting viewing experience for me after that class.
6. Cold War Ethics
I was having trouble filling my schedule with anything half decent in college when my mom sent me a description for a "Cold War Central Eastern European Culture" class. The professor was strict and uncompromising, the content was depressing, the names unpronounceable, and the workload came at a lightning pace. I loved it. Not only had I not realized how little I knew about Eastern Europe before the course, I also hadn't realized how many ignorant assumptions I'd made about the region and the style of thought it produced. I am still inspired daily by the people I learned about in that class, and it inspired a major shift in how I view courage and morality.
7. Lecture With Professor Badass
I took a class called "The History of Presidential Assassinations," and it was easily the best I've ever taken. Our teacher was this ancient guy who routinely brought in badass replicas from the attempts. We delved into the lesser known presidential assassinations, covering both successful and unsuccessful ones. I now have a small collection of books about the subject and am low-key obsessed. I think it was the only class I received a perfect score in.
8. Advanced Style
I took a course called "Stylistics." In a nutshell, it was a deep dive into grammar via performance art. We studied and unpacked words, grammar, and language all while incorporating monologues, music, and other elements of theater. It was by far the most laid-back class I've ever taken, where I felt truly comfortable with my classmates every day, as opposed to feeling like I was just in class with strangers. It really helped my come out of my shell.
9. Romance 101
One time early in my degree, our biology professor stopped his microscope demonstration and chuckled to himself. He looked up at us and told the class that no matter how cute and clean you think you look, under the microscope everyone has eyebrow mites. Now anytime I look into a girl's eyes, I know that there are thousands of tiny eyes staring back at me.