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Staff Picks: Gen Ed Classes That Actually Don’t Suck

We can all agree that the Penn State experience is great. There are endless clubs to join, people to meet, and classes that pertain to whatever it is you want to do with your life. However, just like in high school, earning a college degree means you’ll have a few hoops to jump through. Yes, we’re talking about the “general education” credits. Whether you’re studying creative writing or aerospace engineering, they’re inevitable.

So there’s two choices for you: Randomly select a gen ed you’ll probably feel ho-hum about or even hate, or do some research and enroll in a class actually worth your while. Our staff chose the latter. Here are a few of the best gen eds — ones that we genuinely enjoyed (or, at least, a handful that don’t suck.)

Sara Civian: ENGL 050: Intro to Creative Writing

“This was my art gen ed and I didn’t even have to touch a paintbrush. I had a lot of fun writing stories and expanding my imagination, tapping into my artsy side even though I can barely draw a stick figure to save my life. This is the art gen ed for you if you dreaded art period in high school.”

Tim Reams: BI SC 004: Human Body — Form and Function

“Dr. K is a sweetheart, her class is so easy, and basic physiology and anatomy is enjoyable.”

Carolyn Popescu: GD 100: Introduction to Graphic Design

“Whether you’re interested in graphic design or not, this class is a breeze. If you give it a chance, you can end up learning a LOT about the general history of graphic design and its basic terminology. The class is online and the work can be done on your own time — not to mention, there’s no textbook requirement.”

Mike Reisman: ANTH 216: Sex and Evolution

“This versatile gen ed counts either as a GN or GS and, as we’ve written about before, it’s really interesting. You learn valuable information about both sex and evolution with an interesting professor who knows both how to make the class fun and a ton about what he’s teaching. The workload is extremely manageable as well, making it ideal for almost anyone.”

Steve Connelly: COMM 168: American Journalism — Values, Traditions, and Practices

“COMM 168 a journalism class specifically made for people who don’t want to be journalists. The class is interesting, but keeps all topics simple. Many different people in media give guest presentations. Fifty percent of your grade is just turning in homework assignments on time and the other 50 percent is made up by tests, which are easy and straightforward. Compared to other classes that count as a GH, COMM 168 is probably as easy as it gets.”

Jess Frezza HPA 057: Consumer Choices in Healthcare

“This was my GHA gen ed because something about power walking or awkwardly ballroom dancing with a stranger didn’t really appeal to me. There are no exams, just weekly quizzes, attendance, and a final project. The quizzes are easy as long as you show up to class and Maria Dawson is the sweetest woman who just wants to teach everyone how to live a healthy life. It’ll leave you feeling weirdly inspired and probably with a better GPA.”

Elissa Hill: GEOSC 010: Geology of the National Parks

“If you’re looking for a GN gen ed that will fit in your schedule, an online class could be the way to go. The National Parks are somewhat interesting, and chances are you know at least a little about geology from high school. The course has a repeating format, with a survey and a quiz each week, an exercise every two weeks, and a final exam at the end. As long as you keep up with the assignments, you should have no problem getting an A in this class without having to wake up early. If you appreciate corny jokes, Dr. Alley’s creativity is a bonus.”

*****

While there are certainly many more enjoyable gen eds out there, these ones are tried and tested by our staff. So if you’re scheduling for next semester and can’t seem to decide on a gen ed, one of these picks is a trusty bet.

Which gen eds have you taken that don’t suck? Let us know in the comments! 

About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])

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