Yesterday, when I wrote about choosing your undergraduate major, I emphasized the role that the courses you take can have on your eventual career path. In the past two years, I have taken more classes that I enjoyed than classes that I suffered through, but some had a greater effect on me than others did.
Not all of these classes related to public relations (my actual concentration), but each helped shape me into the person I have become so far. This week, I would like to discuss why those classes had such a positive effect on me. Hopefully my experiences will help inspire positive experiences for others!
The Friday Five: Best College Classes I’ve Taken (So Far)
1. Principles of Advertising.
In the spring of my freshman year, this class was one of the first Advertising/Public Relations classes I ever took, and it solidified my decision to declare my major. My professor, a seasoned creative director and co-owner of his own agency, often related his personal experiences in the industry to the lessons he taught, and used real-world examples to teach us various concepts. Students who weren’t Ad/PR majors even got a kick out of the class because it taught us a lot about what we see on TV or in magazines, but for me, the class made me realize, Yes. There is a field that I could see myself working in someday.
2. Sexual Behaviors.
Yes, the name of this class gave us a lot of laughs (“What are you doing?” “Studying Sexual Behaviors…” “TMI!”), but it was essentially a human sexuality class. While there were plenty of awkward moments to go around, the class taught me to understand people that I hardly knew existed before. That knowledge helped me to teach others who were less tolerant and ultimately gave me a greater insight into other people. I would recommend a class like this to anyone — it will expose you to different types of people and hopefully enable you to understand their perspectives a little better.
3. Creative Writing.
I took this introductory-level class as a freshman in college, and not only did it keep the creative juices flowing, but it was the first time a college professor ever noticed and encouraged my writing. Before that, I had written merely an anthropology paper or two, neither of which warranted much applause because of my lack of interest. Having a professor who appreciated my writing and persuaded me to submit it to journals and competitions was an amazing experience. It was such a blessing to email her, a year later, for advice on a poem I had written — only to find out that she remembered the original that I had written in her class. It was the first time I connected with a professor that I would continue to communicate with after the semester had long since passed.
4. Writing for Public Relations.
This class was by far the most useful class I ever took for my major. As soon as I was admitted to the limited access program, I immediately enrolled in Writing for Public Relations so that when I eventually pursued internships, I would know what a press release was and have writing samples to provide in an interview setting. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was the youngest student in the class, and at times I felt like I was light-years behind everyone else. However, I visited my professor often during her office hours, took dutiful notes and asked a lot of questions. A year later, I am already at my second internship, broadening my portfolio and skill-set with the lessons from this class always in mind. While I do not suggest that everyone take this particular class, I do think that once you have chosen a major, it is important to take classes that will make you more marketable for a future career.
When I was in high school, I used to shake before I gave a presentation. My teeth would chatter, my heart would pound and my mind would race. Taking a speech class in college didn’t exactly thrill me, but my professor (a sweet old guy with radically different beliefs from my own) gave us a lot of creative liberties and the best constructive criticism I had ever received. The classroom setting was extremely nonjudgmental and welcoming, and I eased into public speaking throughout the semester, steadily improving. The class taught me a lot that I didn’t know about my own personal habits and speech patterns (for example, my affinity for playing with my hair while talking), and helped me improve on any pre-speech jitters I had. Although public speaking is not my favorite thing in the world, I have certainly conquered my fears, speaking in front of hundreds of students at freshman orientation and as an Open Mic Night host for a large audience.
Runner-Up Classes: Principles of Public Relations, Women in Literature, Introduction to Hospitality.
What are some of the best classes you have ever taken? What classes do you look forward to taking?