Although we may often think of college courses as a means to an end when working toward a specific degree or career, some college courses may be mostly for fun or personal interest. Colleges, universities and other educational institutions across the U.S. are offering unique courses to add an extra dimension to their students' learning.
Not all courses at MIT are about space exploration or engineering. One offering at MIT focuses on the fun side of robotics. Students can take a course in building robots with Lego. This course can be taken as part of an MIT course load. For students not enrolled full-time at MIT, there are courses available on a special student basis, costing $650 per unit. Although this is a six-unit seminar, MIT's minimum cost for special students is $5,850 for the 2012-2013 academic year.
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Lady Gaga and the sociology of fame
Considering how much Lady Gaga has been in the public eye for her outlandish behaviour, there's little wonder why she's made her way into a number of college discussions. For a mere $1,200 ($3,150 for out-of-state students), you can learn all about the social issues related to Lady Gaga's career at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Those studying at the University of Virginia also have the opportunity to learn about Gaga in a course titled, "GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender and Identity."
Reed College, home to the famed course "Underwater Basket Weaving," which literally teaches how to weave baskets underwater (a term that was once only used to describe courses that were thought to have no practical application), has another unique offering. The school offers a course in kinky crafts, which teaches the art of making homemade leather cuffs and collars. The course has been touted as a less-expensive alternative to buying these expensive items. Kinky Crafts is offered as a part of Reed College's Paideia week, and is free for Reed College students, or available to the public for $5.
DJ history, culture and technique
Just in case you're stuck trying to decide between becoming a college graduate and pursuing that DJ career, now you can do both. New York University offers a four-credit course in DJ history and technique that allows students to study with world-class DJs. However, with a $4,636 enrolment fee, this exciting course offering is probably not a good choice for penny-pinching students.
Philosophy and 'Star Trek'
Though Star Trek has been known to creep its way into a number of college courses, including those that teach the Klingon language, Georgetown University now offers a philosophy course that centres around this pop-culture icon. The course examines the plausibility of time travel, the future possibilities that await us in space, what defines a person and a number of other metaphysical explorations that Star Trek has examined. As a part of a 12-credit full-time course load at Georgetown, this three-credit course costs $5,115.
Since fencing just isn't theatrical enough to begin with, you can now study Theatrical Fencing at the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus. This one-credit physical education course will cost students $331 to $996, depending on whether they are out of state. The course teaches students the art of sword craft. Students are required to buy their own wooden swords to participate.
Nuthin' but a 'G' thang
Oberlin College's Experimental College offers a course in hip-hop music that examines the genre's evolution and impact on the music industry. Some of the artists studied include Tupac Shakur, Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan and Grandmaster Flash. Students are also encouraged to share some of their favourite musical works from the genre. Courses at Oberlin's Experimental College (or ExCo) change regularly, so you can always look for unique offerings that may actually count toward earning a degree.
Joy of garbage
If you're currently studying at Santa Clara University and looking to spend $4,881, then you can learn all about garbage. Unique course title aside, this course actually has a valuable component to the green-minded student. Various social issues are addressed in this course, including the notion of sending garbage abroad, as well as the search for more sustainable solutions.
Mail-order brides of Southeast Asia
Everyone has probably heard of mail-order brides, but have you ever really considered what the cultural impact is on the countries that they hail from? John Hopkins University offers a unique anthropological study of mail-order brides and the cultural stereotypes that affect the women of Southeast Asia. This is a three-credit course, which comes with a price tag of about $4,277 at 2011/2012 fee schedule for visiting students, which charges $1,409 per credit.
The bottom line
There's no denying that part of the college experience is what you learn outside of the classroom. However, the wide range of courses available to students shows that there are plenty of unique learning opportunities available inside the classroom, too. Keep in mind that finding your dream job shouldn't be the only reason you pursue higher education. Learning about society and becoming a better-rounded individual should be part of the process as well.