Nostalgic for that four-year vacation called 'college'? Us too, which is why we're bringing back College Week. Double-sink all of this week's college goodness, all week, right here.
If you're like most of us, college wasn't as much of an in-class education as an out-of-class one, like learning really important stuff like how to funnel a beer, what foods cure a hangover, and the real meaning of a 2am text that reads "sup?"
But maybe the reason we didn't pay attention in class is that we were all taking the wrong (read: boring) courses. Today, at some colleges around the nation, students are passing on Lit 101 and Macroeconomics in favor of seminars about surviving the zombie apocalypse, or watching television, or -- no joke -- alien sex. And they're getting college credits!
So, which schools are offering these too-awesome-to-be-true classes? And what are some others? Well, here are four semesters' worth of courses you almost wish you could go back to college to take.
It should shock absolutely no one that a course with the words “Zombie Apocolypse” in the name: a) has its own website, and b) is taught completely online. But there’s a lot more to this class than simply knowing it takes a headshot to kill a zombie. It examines human behavior during catastrophes, explores why some people survive and others do not, then tests students in real-life disaster situations to see who would prevail and who would perish.
Otis College of Art and Design
There have actually been a surprisingly high number of Harry Potter-related courses taught over the last decade, but this is the only one still being offered. At least as far as we could confirm. Here, you’ll examine “the Harry Potter phenomenon in terms of its folkloric origins, literary structure, and its effect on popular culture.” Or, why grown men will wait in line next to teenagers dressed in robes to watch a movie about 12-year-olds.
While this one sounds like a Learning Annex class about how to turn on your buddy's entertainment system (so. many. remotes.), it's more focused on understanding what you’re watching on television. Intended for broadcast majors but open to anyone, the goal of this course is “for students to critically evaluate the role and impact of television in their lives as well as in the life of the culture."
University of Iowa
No doubt you'll 100% get to watch old clips from The Daily Show and Colbert Report as you study political satire throughout American history and learn what people REALLY thought about Millard Fillmore.
Anyone who lives in a state where marijuana is totally legal and who has partaken of said herb while watching Star Trek knows that the shit gets pretty deep. But wouldn’t it be cool if those deep thoughts could be paired with famous philosophic texts and discussed with a large group at a prestigious university? Well, if you're at Georgetown, consider that dream a reality. In Philosophy and Star Trek, students watch episodes of the show (all versions) while pondering questions like: “Could a machine someday think?" "Is Data a person?” and “Can persons survive death?”
Diablo Valley College
If you want to study cows, you go to Texas A&M. If you want to study tropical fish, you go to Hawaii. If you want to study Hell, you go to a school called THE VALLEY OF THE FREAKING DEVIL. Though fortunately no class trips are involved, according to the course description, students will perform “cross-cultural analysis of how poets, philosophers, and artists have dealt with themes such as: The dark side of human nature, life after death, guilt and responsibility, trial and redemption, and personal growth and enlightenment."
There’s really not a whole lot to say about this course, which aims to “promote a culture of sustainability within the residential learning communities of the modern university.” Except that it’s limited to residents of the SLURP floor in the CyPhi Residential Learning Community. Could. Not. Make. That. Up.
Santa Clara University
Unfortunately, this course is not taught by Professor O.T Grouch. Nor is it a hoarder's dream where you learn that all the crap you’ve been keeping in your mom’s storage unit actually IS worth something. Instead, “this class explores the fates of organic and nonorganic detritus, and searches for sustainable solutions to waste problems.”
Selznick School of Film Preservation
Since the concept of how extra terrestrials (that may or may not exist) reproduce is a liiiittle too heady for undergrads, this course on human (and non-human) sexual issues is exclusively offered in the Master's program. It promises to delve deeper than simply touching cones and/or the spots on someone else’s head.
Relax, this isn’t some guise by Florida carnies to abduct you into the circus. The course description clearly states: “This is not a mandatory class to join the circus and by taking it you are not obligating yourself to join the circus. The circus class is purely for fun.” And probably for football players, since it's only offered during the Fall, and we are talking about Florida State.
Temple professor Scott Shall must have figured that if kids were gonna plaster their dorm rooms with Che Guevera posters, they might as well start acting like him. And since beginning a revolution to overthrow the government of Philadelphia is ambitious for a senior project, he instead has them developing strategies to help the less fortunate, both in the city and abroad.
University of Iowa
In this class, which's probably better taken during the Spring semester in anticipation of your family's big summer trip to West Lake Okoboji, students learn about the evolution of vacations as a concept in the American workplace.
Though the last original The Far Side cartoon ran over 20 years ago, OSU professor Michael Burgett has been using it to teach this honors course that covers everything from insect anatomy to bug behavior. As Burgett said in a 2005 interview with NPR, “If students can laugh about bugs, maybe they won't squash them."
And a couple not for credit, but for the love of learning...
A one-week intensive seminar taught at Penn State's famous Berkey Creamery by instructors from ice cream heavyweights like Baskin Robbins, Ben and Jerry’s, Good Humor, etc. Students from all over the world learn flavoring, refrigeration, freezing, and hardening techniques, as well as how to manufacture ice cream novelties.
Florida International University
Even though Miami might lag behind other major cities when it comes to craft beer, it’s not for lack of education. The premiere in-school beer lab in America sits on the FIU campus, where Dr. Barry Gump has set up a full brewery and tasting room at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. The school even produces its own beer brand -- B.R.E.W. FIU -- that’s so good it’s been featured at Thrillist’s annual Barbecue and the Blues party at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. This fall, they're offering a three-week course that covers the basics of brewing your own suds.
Yes, this course actually exists. And no, not at an SEC school either! It's actually part of a fun, non-credit week of seminars at Portland's Reed College where students learn about things they always "wanted to know about but never had the time for. The history of punk. The birds of Oregon. Throat-singing. Bollywood dance. Underwater basketweaving. You get the idea."
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Matt Meltzer is a staff writer for Thrillist. Follow him @mmeltrez.