We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the one college class (or class in general) that changed their life. Here's what they said — and I hope you've got some tissues handy!
1. Intro to Women's and Gender Studies
No matter your gender, everyone should take Intro to Women's and Gender Studies. I learned so much — not just about women's history, but about intersectionality, history, psychology, and sociology, too. It led me to major in WGS, which led to me getting a great job working with survivors of domestic violence. Never let anyone tell you WGS is useless!
2. Film Studies, but all about Spike Lee
My favorite course by one of my favorite professors was Films Of Spike Lee. It goes in-depth about the black experience and how we are represented in mass media. It was life-changing, especially as a woman of color. #AggiePride
3. Principles of Accounting
That class made me fall in love with the topic of accounting and made me realize that’s what I wanted to do. It was also the class that introduced me to my favorite professor ... She was and still is a wonderful mentor in my life. I couldn’t imagine surviving college without her.
4. Civil Liberties
I took a class in Civil Liberties in junior college. It was fascinating and led to a deep interest in law. I didn’t finish my degree at the time because my kids were little, but I never forgot it. Years later, I went back to school to get a paralegal certificate, and my passion flared up again. I graduated from law school in 2016 and I work as a public defender now. I love my job, and I’m so happy I pursued my dream.
5. Public speaking
6. Intro to Substance Use
It was my Intro to Substance Use class during my sophomore year. I had no expectations walking in, but I ended up declaring it as a minor before the semester was over. My professor had the class do an abstinence project for nine weeks to get an idea of what a person in recovery experiences.
I gave up caffeine and it doesn’t sound bad, but it was hard. It completely shifted my thinking and understanding of any preconceived notions I may have had prior to taking the class. I also became part of the collegiate recovery community on campus as an ally ... Because of the class, I’m now in the second year of my masters degree in addiction treatment with the hopes of going into the medical field specifically for addiction treatment.
7. Differential Variations
My favorite grad school course was Differential Variations, taught by an amazing professor. The course was mandatory for everyone and was all about how to help students with disabilities in the classroom and the varying types of disability. This professor was knowledgeable, funny, and most of all, amazing. No matter what anyone said, he would always end his thoughts with "thank you for that contribution" which made everyone feel validated. Even though I teach general education students, I often think about how I make the lives of my students with disabilities such as ADHD or anxiety easier.
8. Women in Western Civilization
Women in Western Civilization was the first course I ever took in my major. It completely inspired my passion for women’s rights and helped me understand the various intersections of identity.
9. Environmental Politics
This was one of the first political science courses I took, and I fell in love with both political science and sustainability studies. The professor ended up being one of, if not my favorite professor of all time (and I’ve been in school for 10 years), and I ended up taking multiple classes with him just so I could continue to learn from him. He also was super kind and understanding when my anxiety interfered with my work and said one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me. I decided to pursue additional coursework/certification in sustainability because of this class, but also, as a future educator I decided to model my teaching style after the professor.
10. Printmaking with "Dumbledore"
11. Human Sexuality
It was such an important class that taught me so much useful knowledge that everyone should know like what intersex is and what it means, the difference between sex and gender, the different types of contraception and how they’re used, etc. We even discussed about how and when to start taking to your children about sex and sexuality. It’s definitely a class that I think everyone should take, especially now when there’s so much misinformation floating around.
12. Intro to Philosophy
At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I now have my master’s in philosophy with concentration in political ethics. I am teaching intro and ethics at a college and I truly enjoy what I do. I am working on my research proposal so I can start a PhD program.
That class and professor changed my life. I recently found that professor on Facebook and I told her exactly that. I hope I can have that kind of an impact on even just one of my students.
13. Psychology of Sex
The professor who taught it had been teaching the same class for many years and wanted to retire, but he said his student reviews always brought him back. He had traveled extensively studying sexual practices in other cultures and had been a psychologist helping couples for a long time.
The class changed my view on thinking Western sexual culture was the norm. It made me think in a more worldly manner. I learned facts I never knew about birth control and sexual health. It opened my eyes even more about sexual education and public health services.
It was the class I told everyone to take regardless of their major. It made me a better person.
14. Black Male Youth Culture As Present In The Wire
It focused on Season 4 and was supported with literature, historical readings, and further insight on how trends continue. It was fascinating and enlightening, and it led me to appreciate Elijah Anderson's Code of the Street. Truly amazing.
It made me look at life a lot differently and really put time spent with family in perspective for me. Part of the class was working at an Alzheimer’s daytime care center every week. One of the ladies there actually got to where she learned my name and it was the most heartwarming thing I’ve ever experienced. The things you learn break your heart and scare you about getting old, but they make you love and appreciate life more somehow.
Parasitology was the best college class I’ve ever taken. It has totally changed my perspective of healthcare in this world and how we raise animals. The disgusting photos and parasites I learned about have forever haunted me and turned me vegan. It was a very interesting and disturbing class that changed my view of what I put in my body.
18. Criminal Psychology
It’s the extension of “why” people do the things they do on a biological level. In summary, little hormones/neurotransmitters are sent to power everywhere to help you with critical thinking, decision making, and movement. Social neuroscience teaches you about the coolest things, too, like prosopagnosia/facial blindness or how female-named hurricanes are perceived to have been more hazardous and create more damage than male-named ones.
21. African American Studies
It took 15+ years of schooling before I was offered a chance to learn about black history in some depth within the traditional U.S. school system.
Before this class, my education about black history was essentially "slavery happened! it was bad but we moved on," "MLK was a guy who did nice things and got shot, now we name a bunch of streets after him," and "Civil Rights gave black people equal rights... on paper." I learned about the much greater impact of this nation's decisions & its latent racial biases in a context that explains a lot of those WTF moments that still happen to this day.
22. Introduction to Financial Accounting
I had declared a major that required it, so I took it figuring I'd be bored, but it was necessary. Instead, I LOVED it. Every other class I was taking was in my chosen major, and I couldn't stand them. But accounting...it just made sense, and it was fun for me.
Since switching my major that semester, I have graduated with a BBA in accounting, had an internship with a public accounting firm I love, gotten a full time offer, and am about to start taking the CPA exam. Oh, and I moved cities, fell in love with the love of my life, and am the happiest I've ever been. I'd say that's pretty life-changing.
23. Gospel of Mark
I knew nothing about religion prior to this class, and it was a requirement for my Jesuit university. The teacher was the complete opposite of what I expected a minister to be, and he made the class so fun when he’d try to break down the reading using references we understood
24. Gender and the World
In my senior year of college, I took a course called Gender and the World. It was a freshman-level class, and I really only took it to fulfill a requirement, but wow, did it change my life.
It made me the feminist that I am today. When I encounter a new idea or problem, I often think back to this class to work out my response to said idea or problem. I really owe it all to the professor who taught it. I can still clearly see her exasperated face when discussing engagement rings and hear her raving against the deeply sexist culture that pervaded our college campus. Even if it wasn’t for all of that, spending an entire class period analyzing Beyoncé’s "Formation" music video would have easily made this my favorite college course.
25. Silmarillion and Tolkien's Created World
26. Printmaking Techniques for Etching
I was an art major in college, and all I ever cared about was painting, I thought all my other classes were a waste of my time until I decided to take printmaking to satisfy the design requirement for my degree.
I learned so many different printmaking techniques. Now I teach my own classes in screen-printing, and I continue to work with lithography even years after graduation. My professor changed my life by opening my eyes to an entire medium I had never known about, and I worked hard in my school's government to get printmaking the attention it deserved. Now they offer twice as many printing classes as they did before, and it is continuing to grow as a part of the arts college. I still paint, but printmaking is so special I could never give it up!
27. Pilgrimage, Migration, and Exile
It really opened my eyes up to people who are forced to move from their homes due to natural disasters, government riots or other reasons. I previously had little understanding of the lives of asylum-seekers and the trouble they must go through to find a place that’s safe for their family. In addition, we also studied pilgrimages throughout the world, which led me to go in my own pilgrimage. I walked through dozens of cities throughout Spain for two weeks. It was a life-changing event of self discovery for me which allowed me to grow as a person.
28. History of Genocide
I learned about the best and the worst of human nature in that class. It showed me that discrimination and violence against marginalized groups usually follows the same trajectory of escalation, which means we have the power to interfere in that cycle if we have courage.
29. Teaching Literacy/Writing
In teacher's college, a Teaching Literacy/Writing combined course I took had the most incredible professor. He was a poet, and listening to him speak was like listening to a story being told. Signed every email with something like "In autumn's golden light, Carl." Even the smallest interaction with him would leave a smile on my face. He was so full of love and empathy and we all learned SO much from him. He died recently, and it broke my heart. What a gift he was.
30. Acting 1
I was a secondary teaching major (grades 7-12), and I had to take any random arts elective. The only one was Acting 1 which focused on improv! It became the best thing elective I took in college!
You don’t realize how much improv happens in the classroom. So many times you spend HOURS planning a lesson, and the students just don’t connect with it the way you hope. You plan for it to take the whole period, and they are done in 15 mins, looking at you going, "Now what?” All teachers know that this is the most terrifying look in the world. This is when chaos can ensue and a bored student becomes a disruptive student! I always recommend that people going into teaching take an acting/improv class!
31. Visual Cultural Studies
It was one of my last classes — Senior Seminar: Visual Cultural Studies. In that class, we looked at a wide range of topics relating to how we see and perceive things. We looked into feminist theory, the male gaze, Disneyfication, and tons of others. We also applied those things to pop culture for our final paper/presentation.
I majored in English so I was expecting to write a million-page paper but there was an option to create an info graphic and supplement it with a five-page paper. It was just interesting to be in a class that surprisingly wasn’t so writing heavy. Infographics can deliver just as much information, but it has to be done in a succinct way that still gets the point across.
My paper/graphic was about how Grey’s Anatomy helped ameliorate what a feminist is and create a culture of women who strive to be confident in themselves and their careers without needing the approval of anyone else, male or female.