5 Cool College Classes Your Parents Never Took

Some things rarely change, like the fact that you will likely be required to take core English, math, history, or science courses in college, just like every student who has gone before you. While the academic basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic stay relatively the same throughout the generations, there are many college courses that are new to the world of higher education. As society evolves, so do academic subject matters. Trends, issues, and topics that are relevant in today’s college classrooms were either not important, or entirely nonexistent, when our parents were working toward their degree. If you’re looking for something new and exciting to learn about, consider the following classes that your parents never took.

  1. Mass Media and Society. While in college, your parents may have sat in front of their TV screen at the end of a school day to catch a show or the evening news. In contrast, college students today may find that throughout their days, they are rarely not looking at a screen. According to a 2009 study conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, adults spend about 8.5 hours a day in front of some sort of screen, such as TVs, computers, and mobile devices, most of which expose them to some type of media. Given the amount of time our society spends with electronics, it should be no surprise that media has become an important area of study in the academic world. In classes that examine media and society, students learn about the development and role of different types of media like TV, film, print, radio, and the Web. They also study the effects that media has had on the public and ways that it influences society as a whole.
  2. Cross Cultural Advertising. The average American views about 61 minutes of TV ads and promotions each day, according to the New York Times. Considering that the average American can differ greatly when it comes to demographics, it’s important for companies to create ads that appeal to a wide range of audiences. As today’s society, as opposed to that of past generations, becomes more aware of and embracing of cultural differences, the advertising industry is following suit. In a course on cross cultural advertising, students explore major topics like ethics and social responsibility, and learn how to create advertising campaigns that appeal to all consumers taking into consideration factors, such as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
  3. Women and Political Systems. In 1979, women held 3% of elective offices in U.S. Congress, 11% of statewide elective, and 10% of state legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Gradually increasing over the span of a few decades, the year 2011 found women holding 16% of elective offices in U.S. Congress, 22.1% in statewide elective, and 23.6% in state legislatures. Considering the rising female presence in today’s political world, the collegiate study of women in politics is more relevant to current students than it was to their parents. Courses regarding women and political systems typically examine the impact women have made in political systems, sexual discrimination in the world of politics, and gender differences in political access.
  4. Social Media and Networking. Networking used to be something that students did at a career fair, and "media" used to be a term that specifically applied to news, movie, or television industry, but nowadays, we can hardly hear either word without hearing the word "social" first. A 2010 study from The Nielson Company revealed that people in the U.S. spend 22.7% of their time on social networking sites and blogs, and 39% of the time they spend on the Internet is taken up by networking and communicating on social networks, blogs, email, and instant messaging. Given the use of social media and networking in the world of business, schools like Temple University and the University of Alabama are offering courses that examine online traffic generation, Web analytics, blogging, digital identity, and the utilization of popular social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
  5. History of Rock and Roll. The music genre of rock ‘n’ roll began to develop between the late 1940s and early 1950s, so it was only a few decades old by the time your parents were college freshmen – hardly old enough to be considered history or a subject worth studying. Over the course of a few more decades, though, it became apparent that not only was this genre something that changed the music world forever, but had a significant impact on fashion, language, and overall lifestyle. Now that’s something worth studying. Courses on the history of rock ‘n’ roll cover the origin and evolution of the genre, the musicians who fostered it, and the ways it has influenced sociology, economics, and politics.

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