Penn State offers over 160 majors. How awesome is that? With this wide variety of choices, there certainly is a great fit for everyone. But what about those other classes students have to take that are not in their field or related to their major? What kind of options does Penn State have for these classes?
“Those other classes” are referred to as “General Education” or “Gen Ed” classes. These include your general arts, sciences, and humanities. Some students do not like these courses, but there is no excuse for that! Penn State offers so many unique options that can enhance your learning experiences and provide you with new and interesting classes! There is even a whole website dedicated just for researching which classes are available! Let us take a look at a few of these classes, with insight from two professors and a student!
A perfect class for those non-science majors with an interest in Astronomy! There is so much to learn about Astronomy and the universe, so why not spend a semester of your college career learning some basics? This class discusses everything from lights and atoms to the Milky Way! It is an introductory course and only requires basic mathematics skills, allowing students of all majors to have an ability to take it. It is three credits, and covers a general education, natural science credit!
Professor Jane Charlton teaches a section of this course using a video game her and her colleagues have written! Professor Charlton’s favorite part of teaching Astro 001 is when students become “so much caught up in the story of our video game that they forget they are doing their homework”. Imagine taking a class that is so enjoyable, you forget you are actually doing homework…
On top of that, Professor Charlton added that students should take Astro 001 not only to satisfy their Gen Ed requirement with a reasonable workload, but to “gain perspective on the meaning of their existence and their place in the Universe”.
The amount of gen ed health/gym classes available is incredible. There are so many different interesting offerings that a whole blog post could be written on just those classes. From fly fishing, to ice skating, to introduction to different team sports you may not typically play (handball, pickleball, other “court sports”) Penn State offers a fantastic amount of activities.
I chose to highlight “Beginner Downhill Skiing” because it is one of the most unique courses. Laura Gilham, with help of many Teaching Assistants nationally certified through the Professional Ski Instructors of America, instructs the course. Laura stated that “on-snow class sizes” are kept small to “optimize learning and keep it fun”. She also added, “You can’t learn if you can’t have fun”.
When asked why students should take Beginner Downhill Skiing as their GHA, she said “It’s a great way to get out and have fun in the winter time!” along with “There’s more to winter than the frigid walks across campus.” If you want something to look forward to in the winter, this class may be for you!
While choosing your general healthy and physical activity requirements (GHAs), be sure to take advantage of the unique offerings Penn State provides! Each is typically worth 1.5 credits and three are needed, so choose your top two favorite!
Rolling with the idea of taking classes you may not have the opportunity to take again, explore all of the art options! GA or “General Art” education classes are part of graduation requirements, so find a fit that is quality for you to take!
Junior MIS Major George Slater took the class INART 005 during his Sophomore year to meet this requirement, and provided some insight on the course.
George said that students attend plays at theaters on campus or downtown in the evenings. Students must attend 7 plays out of a possible 10 during the semester and write reviews on them. The plays are typically offered Monday-Thursday.
George stated about the class, “I actually enjoyed having the opportunity to take this course and see plays I never would have attended if it were not for taking this class. I would definitely recommend it to students looking for an enjoyable Gen Ed Art to take!”
As this is my first semester at University Park, I have not had a full opportunity yet to explore all these different course options. I am excited to be able to schedule my last three semesters with so many diverse courses in mind and would encourage all students to invest time into finding classes they will find interesting! Remember, there is no excuse to only like the classes in your major, those other classes can be just as entertaining!