Random Ephemera

Back to School: 10 Completely Real College Courses That Sound Totally Fake

The most magical moment in my college career came when I, packed tightly in a lecture hall full of over-studied, over-caffeinated and severely under-showered undergrads, was made to listen to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as part of a final exam. Then, just to make sure we had a fair enough chance at correctly identifying the song and artist, the professor played it a second time.

I looked around. People were taking off their shoes. This wasn't a final exam, it was a freaking CD-burning party. I half expected a joint to make its way down the row. This was Montreal, after all.

Still, if it hadn't been for that course (Popular Music Since 1945), I probably wouldn't have made it through that finals week without getting an ulcer or having a nervous breakdown. We need the Clapping For Credits, the Rocks For Jocks, the American Pop Culture Since 1950s (which, let's face it, will be about 95 percent focused on 1960 to 1975) to carry us through the College Algebras, the German Grammars and the Old Englishes (I could go to great lengths explaining what a "thorn" is).

In a few weeks, college kids will be going back to school and enrolling in Freshman English, Honors Seminar II and Macroeconomics. But the smart ones, the truly smart ones, will know, for sanity's sake, that they also need to take Alien Sex (University of Rochester), Learning From Youtube (Pitzer College) or Lego Robotics (MIT).

Here are ten absolutely real college courses that make us wish we were still in school:

10. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular "Logic" on TV Judge Shows. This UC Berkeley course uses TV courtroom drama to introduce rhetoric. It's a freshman seminar, so it doesn't really count on your record anyway.

9. Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame. This course is as disjointed and all-over-the-place as one of Gaga's shows, with the syllabus addressing everything from "New York" to "Gay Culture."

8. Battle Lines: Graphic Novels and War. We originally went to Reed's Web site to see if they still offered classes in underwater basket-weaving and found this class instead.

7. Fan Fictions and Cult Classics This Bowdoin course examines the role of the fanfic author as a critic of the cult.

6. Muppet Magic: Jim Henson's Art. You have us, UC-Santa Cruz. That $55,000 bill is totally worth it.

5. Harry Potter: Mystery and English Comedy. This Ohio State course sounds like a freshman seminar, but it is actually a 500-level, meaning it carries the same weight as that Civil Rights in America honors seminar that broke your back.

4. Drinking Up: The History and Science of Alcohol. Honors seminar brought to you by Alfred University, the people who gave you Hannibal Lecter's Book and Club Maple Syrup: The Real Thing

3. The American Vacation. We didn't think you needed a college course to tell you everything that happens in a National Lampoon film, but the University of Iowa thinks so.

2. Zombies in Popular Media. We can read between the lines here. "Popular Media" = film and graphic novels. You get an entire course centered around 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead in this Columbia College Chicago class. Awesome.

1. Philosophy and Star Trek. This is like rocks for jocks for the Georgetown crowd.

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