Today was a big day for me. I rushed back to UMass Amherst at 9:30 a.m. this dreary Friday morning to speak with an adviser about graduation. We moved my anticipated graduation date from Spring 2018 to Fall 2017 meaning I will be graduating from college a semester ahead of schedule. I also submitted paperwork to declare my minor in linguistics. How exciting!
With my course requirements finished the fall semester will be 13 credits of whatever my heart desires. It is a unique position as it will be the first time in my college experience that I can take classes for fun.
Is there a class you have always wanted to take but never had the time or space? Let me know!
By and large I have thoroughly enjoyed my college experience but some classes stand out from the rest. Here are the top-five most memorable classes I’ve taken in my last three years of UMass Amherst in no particular order.
1. Journalism 491CJ – Community Journalism
This class totally changed my life. Community Journalism with Nicholas McBride is a once per week, five hour class that takes place at the High School of Commerce in Springfield. College students work along side high school student to create stories about life within their community. The stories told about Springfield, Mass in the media (as either victims or perpetrators of crime but nothing in between) does not reflect the heart and resilience of the people who live here. This class aims to break the mold through multimedia storytelling and introduce concepts of journalism to young people.
2. Anthropology 297AD – Approaching Death
This class is an anthropological approach to death and death practices across various cultures. It is by far one the most morbid course of my entire year but it utterly changed my understanding of life and death. Topics included alternative burial practices (look up the mushroom burial suit that eats human flesh), compassionate cannibalism, and physician-assisted suicide. Heavy subject matter, but the professor Felicity Aulino is one of the most upbeat, passionate instructors I’ve encountered at UMass which made it oddly pleasant to take part in casual conversations about my ideal death.
3. Journalism 292N – News Literacy
I took this class with Steve Fox during the dawn of the 2016 Presidential Election in fall of my sophomore year of college. Man it was a hoot. The majority of class was spent discussing current events with daily news quizzes on big topics in the news. We also picked apart news stories to find bias and examined sources to determine credibility. Having a firm understanding of media ownership has definitely helped me argue with family members about politics at the holidays.
4. Linguistics 370 – Sounds of Englishes
I am taking this class right now. Admittedly dry subject matter (English phonology) but professor Joe Pater makes it rather exciting. The class begins with several minutes spent listening to music, after which we determine particular patterns in the singer’s speech. Do they sound American? Why? This leads to discussions of English dialects in different geographical regions and the features unique to them. If nothing else, the class has taught me that Brad Pitt is pretty trash at adopting any sort of accent in film.
5. Comm 288 – Gender, Sex and Representation
I took this class online during the 2016 winter session. I needed something to eat up a few credits and the subject matter looked interesting enough. This is one of those courses you take and walk away with a healthy dose of existential dread. Do I make choices because I want to or because society tells me to? Is anything real? My life is a lie!!! The class was fascinating, the structure was engaging, and I feel like I learned something. I highly recommend UMass students take at least one course with Sut Jhally.
Are there any memorable university courses you’re taken or you remember from your higher education experience? How was your transition from university to post-graduate life? Share your experience below so we can connect.