June 21, 2011
With college costs soaring, new grads staggering under record amounts of debt, and a grim employment picture, you’d think students (and universities) would be buckling down and focusing on serious academic pursuits.
Wrong! Crazy courses are a long-time college tradition. But even in the wake of the Great Recession, course catalogs are still loaded with goofy, lightweight classes, and students still are lining up to take them. Many of these offbeat offerings are consistently enrolled to capacity, and some, like “Geology and Cinema” or “Sport for the Spectator” are among the most popular classes on campus. On a per-credit basis, these classes cost just as much as organic chemistry or applied physics.
PHOTO GALLERY: 10 Crazy College Classes That Cost Big Bucks
But students today often aren’t very interested in those more traditional offerings, says Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory who wrote The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). Instead they buy into – and contribute to – what Bauerlein calls “the progressive dumbification of the college curriculum.”
Colleges and universities contribute to the problem by focusing on selling themselves instead of delivering a good education, he says. In an increasingly business-like world of higher education, appealing to high school seniors with a hip course catalog brings in more applications, which allows a school to be choosier, which in turn gives a university a higher selectivity ranking – a hot commodity in a fiercely competitive industry.
“If you kept [college] requirements high and kept courses demanding and rigorous, you’re going to get a lot of dropouts and dropouts are embarrassing to universities,” Bauerlein says.
Here is our own (somewhat arbitrary) list of the 10 silliest college courses – and how much they cost. All of these are real courses at colleges and universities across the U.S. Some of them are offered every year, some every term; all remain part of the curriculum at their respective colleges.
To see our top ten list, click here.
I Want a Refund! Grads Who Would Return Their Degree (The Fiscal Times)
Technology and Science Majors Earn Much More (The Fiscal Times)
High College Dropout Rate Threatens U.S. Growth (The Fiscal Times)