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Choosing Gen-Ed Classes that are Worth Taking

Registration for Fall 2021 classes opens on April 19th, and I feel like I was sitting with my mom at our kitchen table struggling to sign up for the Fall 2018 semester two weeks ago. Maybe that means I am just a sentimental junior who wants to reminisce on the days of my freshman past, where I could spend a Monday evening in AL201 snacking on meal plan Chex Mix while my TFM class watched Spirited Away, rather than focus on the much more stressful online biology lectures of my present. However, I can genuinely say I miss knowing I still had all the time in the world to take classes other than my upper-division major requirements. As my once eight remaining semesters of college have quickly dwindled down to two, I have fallen into the typical trap of being so concerned about graduating on time and preserving my GPA, that I've kind of forgotten learning shouldn't be this stressful.

As cliche as it sounds, there is something to be said for trying to view your time in college as more than a sprint to a degree. I think a great way to do this is to put some extra time into picking your GE's based on what you actually want to learn about. Some of the electives I have taken here have had absolutely nothing to do with my major or life plans, but they have always reminded me of the importance of balancing things I am required to do in life with things I am genuinely interested in.

For this blog, I polled some of my fellow upperclassmen (a fancy term for my roommates) and spent some time scrolling through the course catalog to give you a list of some solid GE's at State that can serve as a reminder that college classes can be more interesting than stressful.

Note: I may forget where I put my Airpods every ten minutes, but trust me when I say I never forget to check Rate My Professors. All of the classes below had primarily positive reviews.

AMIND141: “U.S. History from an American Indian Perspective Since 1870”

(3 units, no specific prereqs)

Course Description: U.S. history from an indigenous perspective from 1870 to the present. Examines Native American societies, political systems, and reservations. Attention is given to historical, contemporary, political, socio-economic issues, the U.S. and California constitutions, and their impact on Native Americans. Satisfies the American Institutions requirement in American history and California government.

Quick Tip: I know this is a typical class many SDSU students take, but I added it to the list to specifically suggest taking it with Caleigh Cornell. She is a kind, fair grader who truly makes the point of the class learning how to practice cultural awareness instead of learning how to cram for a test.

RELS-258: “Death, Dying, and Afterlife”

(3 units, no specific prereqs)

Course Description: Studying the diverse ways religions deal with the process of dying and rituals involved in the transition of life to death. Grieving, end-of-life decisions, views on the afterlife.

Quick Tip: I have not taken this class personally, but it has great reviews on Rate My Professor. Plus, in my opinion, there’s no such thing as expanding your spiritual perspective too much. The course title itself was enough for me to add it to the list.

MUSIC351: “Music and Culture: Hip Hop”

(3 units, need to have completed enough units to take upper-division GEs)

Course Description: Significant music literature of various historical and cultural periods with emphasis on stylistic characteristics through directed listening. Not open to music majors. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units from Music 351, 351C, and 351D, of which three units may be applicable to General Education.

Quick Tip: One of my roommates took this last semester. It is basically semester-long Shazam, and I am jealous I won’t be able to take it while I am here.

BIO-250A: “Pre Professional Topics. Topics in Medicine”

(1 unit, no specific prereqs)

Course Description: Designed to expose the pre-professional student to the profession of his/her choice through speakers and selected readings. Emphasis on alternatives and meeting stresses as a pre-professional student. Maximum credit one unit for any combination of Biology 250A-250B-250C

Quick Tip: This class is taught by Logan Watson, the advisor for Health Professions Advising Office. He is awesome and so is getting the chance to get exposed to professionals in the healthcare field. If you are pre-health of any kind, definitely worth considering!

TFM160: “Cinema as Art”

(3 units, no specific prereqs)

Course Description: Cinema in its diverse forms. Historical and stylistic influences on aesthetic values and social implications of cinema.

Quick Tip: I took this class freshman year, and I can guarantee it will permanently change how you watch movies. It briefly made me want to be a film major, but honestly, a lot of my GE’s do that to me. Exhibit A: I took ISCOR300 and seriously considered ditching healthcare to become a foreign diplomat. A good point here is that you never know if a random class could be what changes your path if you find yourself doubting your original major.

SOC330: “Culture and History of Surfing”

(3 unit upper-division GE class, must pass Sociology 101 with a C or higher)

Course Description: Surfing from Hawaiian origins to the present. Class, gender, and racial intersectionality within surfing communities. Cultural differences between Polynesian and Western societies. Surfing subcultures and dominant cultures

Quick Tip: No one I know has taken this class personally, but Rate My Professor had great things to say. If you’re into surfing, might as well get some credits while enriching yourself in the culture!

HUM-411: “Understanding Evil”

(3 units, need to have completed enough units to take upper-division GEs)

Course Description: Evil and how the language of evil has been used by diverse religious communities. Conceptions and portrayals of demons, hell, Satan, and vampires. The literature on the Holocaust, terrorism, torture, and war

Quick Tip: My roommate is currently taking this class, and she says the section spent on serial killers was especially interesting. On that topic, watch Mindhunter if you need a new Netflix show!

PH353: “Human Sexuality and Disease”

(3 units, only open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors)

Course Description: Development of sexual values, attitudes, and behaviors across ages, including evolution and occurrence of sexually transmitted infections worldwide. Focus on biological, medical, psychological, sociocultural, and political factors. Not open to students with credit in Community Health Education 353 and 475.

Quick Tip: The class itself will expand your scope on sexual health and the spectrum that is sexuality (we even had an adult film star as a guest speaker!). However, the professor, Erik Storholm, is the true highlight. He is a young prof who will help connect you to any resources you ask him about. I have Storholm to thank for my internship with Well-Being and Health Promotion this semester, and I feel like I will look back on the class as something that permanently altered the course of my undergraduate career even though I wasn't required to take it.

In my time writing for W.S.S I think this easily ranks as my longest blog ever, but obviously I barely even scratched the surface of GE's that are actually available at SDSU. At the end of the day, I just hope this post reminds you that although your degree requirements mandate you have to take certain classes, GE's can give you the freedom of choice to learn about things for your own reasons. Also, just because you made it this far, here is a gif of Duke Silver. I hope it brings you peace as it does for me in these trying times.

I'll be very honest, Zoom University has me ready to take my degree and Naruto run down Montezuma as fast as I can at least four days out of the week, and I am certainly guilty of taking a few electives just because I knew they could guarantee me an A. However, I think one day we will all look back at this point in our lives and miss having the freedom to choose to take a class about the culture of surfing instead of paying a mortgage, so you might as well go deep dive on the WebPortal to see what's out there. Hope you are all surviving midterm season the best you can!

-Hannah :-)

P.S. These two classes didn’t make the list because the pandemic interferes with their usual format but depending on how long you’re here they could be worth taking in-person at some point!

ENS 138: “Salsa Dance”

Class is designed to provide a foundation of Salsa or Swing Dancing

LATAM320: “Culture and Society of Tijuana:”

Mexican dance, art, music, cuisine, politics, tourism industry, education, and other facets of daily life through weekly visits to selected venues in TJ.

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