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Staff Picks: Practical Gen Eds That Are Actually Useful

Last week, our staffers shared their thoughts on what gen ed classes we enjoyed the most. Naturally, well-known favorites like Astro 7N and SOC 119 made the list.

Just in time for scheduling season, our staffers have now come together to share their thoughts on classes they’ve taken that have actually been useful and practical in their everyday lives. If you’re still on the hunt for a gen ed that could aid you in the future, look no further.

Frankie Marzano: KINES 29B

This golf class may be one of the most useful gen eds to take if you are a business major or just looking to get better at golf. The class lasts for only half of the semester, and you learn how to play on the course and improve your game.

Typically, Tuesday is swing instruction, while Thursdays are spent on the course. If you want to get better at golf for work or just for fun, this is the course for you. You’ll need skills on the links when you’re trying to butter up clients, right?

Nicole Oronzio: EDTHP 115

In my opinion, one of the most practical gen eds I’ve taken so far was EDTHP 115: Education in American Society. This class helped me form a lot of opinions about the education system in America, specifically regarding school choice and public schools. It opened my horizons to new ideas and new topics I have never heard about before. It helped me formulate opinions on different issues, which I believe is a great skill to have in life.

This class is based on weekly readings, reflections on those readings, and small group discussions. I did notice that mainly education majors take this class, but it satisfies both United States cultures and GS requirements. It’s also just a very interesting class, especially if you want to learn more about American schooling.

Rico Gore: MATH 34

MATH 34: The Math of Money is a three-credit quantification gen ed. I know a lot of majors have prescribed GQ courses they want you to take, but if you have the ability to choose your quantification courses, I would highly recommend this class. Students always ask, “When am I going to use this?”, and this class actually teaches content that everyone will use in their life. With this class, you would get to knock out a gen ed while also learning vital skills that the public school system has failed to teach us.

MATH 34 goes over topics like retirement, credit/debit cards, debt, investing, taxes, and other important personal finance topics. Also, it isn’t a difficult course. You will also feel good about going to class and doing example problems because you could someday, or even currently be, the person in many of the example problems that are reviewed throughout the semester.

Caitlin Burns: HPA 57

HPA 57: Consumer Choice Health Care teaches you about being a knowledgeable consumer of health care. In the class, you cover topics like how to find the cheapest prescription, what the most common health conditions are, what doctors specialize in them, and how to find the best doctor for you. Dr. Gregory Billy, the team physician for the men’s basketball team, was my professor for this class.

The class is multi-faceted to teach all of the aspects of being knowledgeable about how to advocate for yourself as a patient and keep you well-educated about your health. Dr. Billy really seems to care about the class he’s teaching and, as a doctor, is a helpful person to explain how the health care system functions.

Sam Fremin: STAT 100

If you’re anything like me, math really isn’t your strong suit. The idea of having to take general quantifications classes really stressed me out. I was pleasantly surprised to see that STAT 100 is not heavy in math until late in the semester. A majority of the course is understanding how to interpret statistics, which is actually pretty useful. I did do poorly as soon as the course started using equations, but I had built myself enough of a grade cushion that it wasn’t the end of the world, and I was satisfied with the applicable knowledge I’d acquired.

Matt DiSanto: FDSC 105

FDSC 105: Food Facts & Fads is the last gen ed I’ll take at Penn State, but I picked a good one to end with. This three-credit course satisfies GHW requirements and covers plenty of topics, including food production, nutrition labels, genetic modifications, and more. Some of the science seems intimidating at first glance, but you’ll quickly find the topics are engaging. More importantly, they’re relatable and useful!

This course’s assignments are nothing you haven’t seen before. Each week, you’ll read through some interactive modules before taking a brief quiz and discussing course material with students. FDSC 105 serves as a great way to knock out those pesky GHW credits without breaking a sweat — all while learning some useful information, too.

Hope Damato: ANTH 140

I’m currently in ANTH 140: Booze and Culture. I know what you’re thinking: “A class about alcohol? How is that practical?” Well, the class is about alcohol, but mainly what it’s made of and its history. One lesson is about the different types of glassware and why each type of alcohol has a specifically paired glass. We also learned how to pour and make a proper drink so when you graduate, you don’t look like an idiot at that fancy office party with real adults. I definitely signed up for this class because of its good reviews (and alcohol), but it’s nice to know that I’m actually learning something I can use in the future.

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