Electives I took in my last year of college that everyone should take

Student Affairs / Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

When I finished my junior year at Indiana State, I had met all but one of the course requirements for my degree. The main thing I lacked for my degree was reaching the 120 credit hour requirement put in place by the state of Indiana.  I could have even finished that last course I needed to take, but what was the point when I’d still need another year of electives?

Finding those electives to fill two semesters and hit that 120 threshold was not easy, it required me to be creative and look in departments I never thought I’d look in. But as a result, I ended up taking some very interesting classes and they ended up being classes that I believe others should take as well when possible.  Let me share my chosen electives and hopefully help someone out that’s looking for random classes to take in the process (obviously some of the classes will differ, but they should be pretty standard and translate to most campuses in some form).

1960s: Counterculture & Protest

This was labeled as a history class but was so much more than that. We started the semester talking about everyone’s inner shadow, yin and yang, and how we project our shadow onto others. Then around midterm, we got into the history of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the cultural shift, etc.  The entire decade (bleeding into the 70s) is such an interesting time period that everyone should know about.

The Rhetoric of Documentaries

This was an advanced English class, one that I was required to take, and I didn’t know the topic of the course was documentaries when I signed up.  We watched a handful of films throughout the semester and discussed (mostly wrote about) how each film did rhetorically, compared them, and learned to use documentary films as sources in academic papers.  It was a nice break from the typical reading and writing that we do in most courses.

Political Communication

This was one of my favorite classes of all four years at ISU and was very fitting given that I took this in the fall semester when debates and campaign speeches were in their prime.  There was so much to discuss and learn from in the real world, in addition to learning all the communication theories that apply to political speech.  I wrote some of my best papers in this class and learned so much about the political campaign process as well.  As a bonus, I learned that Donald Trump really is defying all the standard theories that apply to campaigns.  I really missed this class in the spring with so much more happening in the campaign.

Literature: Biography & Autobiography

This one is very specific to ISU, but is worth mentioning nonetheless.  The professor I had did not believe in textbooks and taught us everything we need by lecturing, using powerpoints that were very well made, and made each biography interesting. We talked about John Dillinger, Michael Jackson, Amelia Earhart, Princess Diana, and more. Each person was tied into our own lives and the professor did a great job making each person’s story relevant and pulling out a “moral takeaway.”

Sexual Assault Activism

This class planned the annual Take Back The Night event for ISU but did so much more than that in the classroom. We also partnered with the Council on Domestic Abuse (CODA) and read the very good book Missoula, among other books and articles.  With the rising presence of sexual assault on campuses and in the community as a whole, this is an important class for anyone to take.

LGBTQ Studies

Similar to sexual assault, LGBTQ issues and history are incredibly important to be aware of and this class provided a great forum for learning and discussing among members of the community and allies alike.  I wish there were more classes on LGBTQ studies instead of just this one.

New Media Writing

As a journalism major, I took several media writing classes in the communication department. This class, however, was in the English department and was heavily based on blogging, memes, and digital rhetoric. This is important for anyone to know; writing for the web or writing on the web is different, with different rules and applications, than writing traditional papers. The various mediums, forms, etc. make new media writing a concept worth learning.

Introduction to Teaching

The class was meant for secondary education majors, but I took it anyways.  While it was awkward at times being the only non-Education major (and also non-Freshman) in the class, it was helpful to learn more about teaching styles, learning styles, classroom management, etc. as I do plan to utilize those skills someday in the college environment.  If you have room in your schedule, I suggest taking a class like this – it’s fun, pretty low stress, and you can also learn a thing or two while you’re there.

Those are the electives I took during my senior year at ISU. I hope something inspired you, and I hope you’ll consider taking one, multiple, or even all of these classes

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