With the average annual cost of a college education being in excess of $25,000, schools are eager to give plenty of opportunities for students to spend that money. Traditional college degrees in such mundane areas as architecture, medicine, engineering, and the law are now giving way to classes that will make you scratch your head. Take a look at these academic opportunities that will soon be found on the transcripts of the next generation of workers whose primary responsibility is to find out if you want fries with that.
David Beckham Studies – Staffordshire University, UK
While technically known as “Football Culture,” this course is commonly known by the name of the squeaky-voiced soccer star who is primarily studied during the classes. This course, alas, is not alone in the field of celebrity-based academic courses. It joins ranks with Madonna Studies at Harvard, Oprah Winfrey Studies at the University of Illinois, and the Filmology of Keanu Reeves in Pasadena, California. With this degree, you can become the celebrity you have always wanted to be as you clear the tables at the neighborhood diner.
Goldberg’s Canon: Making Whoopi — Bates College
The course description promises that “participants learn about the career of Whoopi Goldberg including Alien Whoopi: Star Trek and the Goldberg Generation, Renaissance Whoopi: Elizabeth Regina and What Aunt Jemima Might Say if She Stepped Off that Box: The Paradox that is Whoopi Goldberg.” This deserves special mention, aside from the above-referenced David Beckham Studies, because of the self-evident fact that anyone who can sing like Whoopi did in Sister Act is far more likely to bring in better tips while waiting on tables.
Oh, Look! a Chicken! — Belmont University
According to Belmont University’s course catalog, “those who choose this course will be invited to examine ways of knowing through embracing [little ants, carrying a morsel of food across the table] what it means to be a distracted [I smell bacon, what time is it? I’m hungry] learner as well as [OMG–I get to go to the beach this summer—warm sand under my feet] developing an awareness [I love snow caps—little dark chocolate drops with white candy thingies on them] of one’s senses. The instructor teaches in the school of music, [do I hear water dripping?] so there will be an element related to that spun [spiders are amazing] into the course. [Oh, it’s the fish tank behind me] Those registering for this journey may even learn to juggle. And, if you were attentive to the distractions in this description, you might pick up on another direction your professor will take those willing to explore their empirical selves.” This course will prepare you for a lifetime of being distracted by the fact that you are unqualified to hold a job.
Surf Science and Technology — Cornwall College (UK) and Plymouth University
This degree essentially teaches you how to be a really good surfer. Courses include Culture of Surf & Sport, Physical & Geographical Influences on Surfing, Sociological and Psychological Perspectives of Surfing, and Surf Business. With this degree, you can surf right into the unemployment line.
Parapsychology – various colleges
This degree is perfect for starting a career dealing with haunted houses. It is dedicated to the study of the paranormal, and you can enroll in many colleges and universities around the world. (Slimer and haunted houses included) is popping up in universities and colleges worldwide, such as Coventry, Edinburgh, Northampton and Liverpool in the UK, plus Belford and Flamel in the USA. With this degree, you will be well equipped to do your own haunting — at the Unemployment Office.
The Phallus – Occidental College
This course is all about — well, it’s not quite as clear as the title might suggest. Occidental College describes the class as studies “between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism.” What does all of this mean? It means that there will be a lot of Freudian-thinking people searching through the Help Wanted ads.
Star Trek – Georgetown University in Washington
Because nerds don’t have enough trouble with being socially awkward and unable to relate to normal society, Georgetown University has decided to further marginalize them. The course, according to the faculty, maintains, “Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to learn philosophy, than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class?” If this isn’t quite your thing, you can go to Indiana University, where you can combine Star Trek Studies with religion. Beam me up, Scottie. There are no jobs down here!
Puppet Arts — University of Connecticut
This course of study will teach you all about puppetry or the art of the puppet; creating, building and managing puppets and puppet shows. The types of classes you would take if you focus on this field of academics are Puppet Production Techniques, Voice and Diction, Scene Design and Painting, Trends in Contemporary American Puppetry, Marionette Performance, and Marionette Construction. We concede there may be a need for someone with these skills. We question just how many are needed, leading us to conclude that most who graduate with this degree will be entertaining fellow waiters and waitresses with their awesome sock puppet skills.
Learning from YouTube – Pitzer College
California’s Pitzer College offers Learning from YouTube. The class consists of students watching YouTube videos, discussing the, and leaving comments on the videos. This class is offered to all those who believe they have found their calling by sitting around all day in their jammies, watching computer videos. Sadly, at last check, the demand for people skilled in this field was surprisingly sparse. Hopefully one of the videos the students watch will be How to File a First-Time Unemployment Claim.
Queer Musicology – UCLA
In a further effort to promote equality in sexual preference, UCLA offers this course that seems to suggest that gay people hear and produce music differently than everyone else. This course will prepare you for a career in …. Actually, I’ve got nothing on this one.
The Science of Harry Potter – Frostburg University
Maryland’s Frostburg University provides this honors seminar, which is really a physics class that investigates the supposed magic of Harry Potter. It actually sounds kind of fun, and it seems like an excuse to watch the Harry Potter movies and get academic credit in the process.
The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media — Skidmore College
This course explores the theory that a truly-inane concept will sound sophisticated and intellectual if you give it a really long title. The course is described as covering, “from Disney tween to twerking machine.” It promises to provide “rich examples for analyzing aspects of intersectional identities and media representation.” The professor said, “I created it as a creative and rigorous way of looking at what’s relevant about sociology and sociology theory.” Assuming, of course, that you find Miley Cyrus relevant in the first place.
What If Harry Potter Is Real? — Appalachian State University
From the course catalog: “This course will engage students with questions about the very nature of history. Who decides what history is? Who decides how it is used or mis-used? How does this use or misuse affect us? How can the historical imagination inform literature and fantasy? How can fantasy reshape how we look at history? The Harry Potter novels and films are fertile ground for exploring all of these deeper questions. By looking at the actual geography of the novels, real and imagined historical events portrayed in the novels, the reactions of scholars in all the social sciences to the novels, and the world-wide frenzy inspired by them, students will examine issues of race, class, gender, time, place, the uses of space and movement, the role of multiculturalism in history as well as how to read a novel and how to read scholarly essays to get the most out of them.” We suggest that students take a follow-up course: “What if I really need a paycheck in order to survive?”
How to Win a Beauty Pageant — Oberlin College
“This course examines US beauty pageants from the 1920s to the present. Our aim will be to analyze pageantry as a unique site for the interplay of race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation. We will learn about cultural studies methodology, including close reading, cultural history, critical discourse analysis, and ethnography, and use those methods to understand the changing identity of the US over time. This course includes a field visit to a pageant in Ohio.” Because, goodness knows, beauty pageant contestants have contributed so much to society.
Philosophy of Phish — Oregon State University
Taught by avid Phish fan, Dr. Stephanie Jenkins: “Major philosophical theories about art and its meaning, from ancient to modern times. How philosophers have understood beauty, the imagination, art and knowledge, art and pleasure, art and emotion,” in 2014, through the lens of Phish, offered online as Dr. Jenkins follows the band on their summer tour, teaching from the road. In other words, students subsidized a Phish groupie living the dream of following her favorite band from town to town. Curiously, the class was offered online. It was the professor who attended all the concerts; the students had to sit at their computers and watch the concerts.
Getting Dressed — Princeton University
“The seminar is an inquiry into the social significance of clothing and a close examination of the relationship between clothing and identity in 20th-century America. To explore that juncture, students keep a literary sketchbook in which they record their observations about the ways clothing comes into play in the news, in their surroundings and in their own lives. The journal helps the students hone their powers of observation and learn key skills for examining the world.” What is more disturbing: an Ivy League school that offers a class on getting dressed, or Ivy League students who need instruction on the subject. One can only imagine what the first class looks like, before they cover the challenging topic of “Pants go on, one leg at a time.”
How to Watch Television — Montclair State University
It is truly shocking to think that someone could make it to the university level without ever having learned the valuable skill of watching TV. Presumably, the graduate studies include such helpful topics as “How to Use the Toilet.”
Arguing With Judge Judy — University of California, Berkeley
The focus of this course is purportedly to help students learn how to answer questions with logic if questioned by a television judge. According to the course description, “When asked ‘Did you hit the plaintiff?’ respondents often say, ‘If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!’ This reply avoids answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called a fortiori argument [from the stronger] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on ‘Judge Judy’ and ‘The People’s Court’ and discussing why such strategies are so widespread.” The description goes on to emphasize, “It is NOT a course about law or ‘legal reasoning.'”
In summary, this course will help you if your primary aspirations in life include winning a case on a television show where people scream at each other.
Adventure Education — Plymouth State University
This course teaches “you how to use the Great Outdoors to expose children, adults and at-risk populations to challenging adventures, personal growth and self-discovery.” Goodness knows, no one knew how to enjoy the Great Outdoors without formal education.
Bagpiping — Carnegie Mellon University
We hesitate to add this class to the list, since this site is an avowed believer in the inherent awesomeness of all things Scottish. Even so, our natural Scottish skepticism questions the marketability of a degree in Scotland’s official musical instrument. The degree offers “a program of study where a person can get a complete grounding in music as well as specific instruction on the instrument.”
Canadian Studies — Duke University
Not to diminish whatsoever the significance of the great nation of Canada, but last we checked, there haven’t been a lot of Help Wanted ads that call for someone who is schooled in this particular field — particularly when the degree is offered by a school that is, frankly, not located in Canada.
Popular Culture — Bowling Green State University
This degree promises a thorough education in “Everyday life, including but not limited to everything that is mass produced by us and for us. Its subject matter is the world in which we live, relax and have fun.” Students take courses which “focus on the impact various aspects of popular culture (such as television, movies, rock music, popular books and magazines, sports, holidays, festivals, and folklore) have on our culture and how they reflect the values of our society.”
Oh, where do we start? Setting aside, for a moment, the questionable value of such a degree and tabling the question of whether popular culture is actually a significant source of the problems of the world, it seems like the reason people would go to college and get a degree is so they won’t be sitting around all day soaking up all this mind rot. Presumably, those who would be most versed in popular culture are those who aren’t taking time out of popular culture to go to class.
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