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Staff Picks: Best Classes To Fill Your Art Gen Ed Requirements

Whether you spend your evenings doing practice problems in Hammond or writing essays in Sparks, there’s no getting around the thorough general education requirements at Penn State. They comprise nearly half of the coursework you need in order to graduate and offer quite a range of difficulty from GPA-boosters to seemingly unnecessary stressors.

Your gen eds are designed to provide a well-rounded education and help you become well-versed in everything from math and science to history and ~global awareness~. Whether you do that remains subject to how you choose to go about fulfilling these requirements and what you want to get out of them. For some, that’s a 4.0. But for others, that’s just a matter of personal interest.

Six of the credits you need are arts requirements, which are known as your GAs. As scheduling picks up, we have a few recommendations of fun, interesting, and laid-back ways to culture yourself in the arts.

Matt Noah: DANCE 100

Dance Appreciation is a great way to fulfill your general art requirements. Going into my first semester, I expected it to be a hands-on class where you learned to dance. I could not have been more wrong.

First, it’s roughly a 300-person class in Forum that meets two times a week for 50 minutes. The professor teaches the history of dance and shows YouTube clips to provide examples that help us understand culture. You’re graded based on the questions you ask on an app called Packback. Overall, if you show up and ask questions, it’s an easy A and pretty interesting.

Katie Moats: ART 101

Intro to Web Design is the easiest damn class I’ve ever taken at Penn State. It’s only offered online, there’s no final exam (or any exam, for that matter), and there’s only like seven assignments, which are little mini assignments. You learn basic HTML coding, which seemed daunting to my small English major brain, but I spent about three minutes in total on the class.

It was the easiest A I’ve ever gotten, and if I could take it every semester until I finally graduate, my GPA would be climbing higher than Pat Chambers’ basketball team.

Matt Paolizzi: COMM 150

The Art of the Cinema is known as the “movie-watching class” and that description is certainly applicable. It’s normally taught in the State Theatre downtown, which is perfect if you’re looking to break up the monotony of going to Willard four times a day. The class is normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays and tends to be on the long side, normally around three hours a class.

Tuesdays are the movie days where you can just relax and watch a great flick while Thursdays are the lecture days. While those Thursday lectures can go on and on, they’re normally fairly interesting, especially if you’re curious about how movies are made and want to learn about the rich history of filmmaking. If you’re not feeling it that day however, you can easily tune out and get some other work done or just relax in the comfy chairs. The tests are a piece of cake and as long as you watch the movies, keep up with the lectures, and do whatever easy writing assignments are thrown your way, COMM 150 should be an A for you.

Jim Davidson: ENGL 50

I was terrified to take this course as a second-semester freshman. The idea of reading any sort of personal, expressive work to people I saw every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday sparked an anxiety more intense than any public speaking assignment ever had.

I quickly learned that I had no reason to fear. Most of the assignments were quick readings or personal pieces that I enjoyed writing, and the discussions were open and welcoming no matter how terrible I thought my piece was. If you’re into writing or just want to try something different and creative, I highly recommend scheduling English 50 to knock out your arts requirement.

Ryen Gailey: THEA 100

Theatre 100 is the best possible art gen ed I could have taken. It was supposedly canceled last year, but I was still able to schedule it for this fall semester. There are many different forms of the class, and I was lucky to get into the section that meets only two days a week in the State Theatre.

Attendance is not mandatory, and this semester, there is no class on Fridays, which is awesome. There are weekly quizzes, but you get two attempts and they’re really straightforward. You have to attend some mandatory performances outside of class, but they’re actually really well-done plays, and I’ve loved seeing them. Definitely take Theatre 100 if your schedule allows for it, as one of Penn State’s most popular gen eds it’s an easy A and just an awesome class to take in general.

Anthony Colucci: 3-6-9 That Shit

This isn’t specific to your arts requirement. There are lots of ways to go about fulfilling your credits, and I don’t think enough students are aware of the options and flexibility they have.

Before the new gen-ed requirements and interdomain courses were introduced last year, a 3-6-9 substitution referred to funkily splitting up your arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences requirements, as opposed to the prescribed six credits for each. Although only juniors and seniors can pull the ol’ 3-6-9 card out of their back pockets, there are certainly a number of other ways to make your gen eds work for you and your situation — whether it be finding loopholes, looking for classes that double-count, or asking your advisor to sign off on a substitution gen ed.

I recommend doing this wherever you can, not just to get around anything in particular. Over the last four years, it’s become part of my personal credo that you need to maximize your options and take control of your education. Tuition is expensive, and there’s no reason to take classes you don’t truly need or feel like your schedule is dictated by anyone other than yourself.

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