Here's a look at some colleges' most difficult (alleged) cruise classes
Come registration time, college students — especially seniors in their penultimate semester — may try to enroll in a cruise course or two. But read between the lines of the course catalog before assuming an easy A from these upper-level classes. They aren’t what they seem.
Introduction to Wines, Cornell University
Thanks to for-credit consumption, this is one of Cornell’s most in-demand courses (up to 700 enrollees). But it’s apparently not as much fun as it sounds and is frequently referred to as the university’s most failed course. Urban legend, insists Professor Cheryl Stanley, declining to back that up with data. According to bloggers, lessons are full of minutiae about labeling and regulations. “The lectures are pretty dense, are held in the late afternoon, and involve mild alcohol consumption,” Quora.com says, “so they don’t make it easy to absorb information.”
Tip: The professor says: Print out and review PowerPoint presentations before class and use the study guide provided the first week. Quora adds: Hone memorization skills for multiple-choice tests.
Philosophy of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University
Physics majors think they’re in for a breather. But this class jumps into the deep end of special relativity and quantum mechanics, which most in the class are not that familiar with, says Professor Mara Harrell. It then focuses on philosophical implications. It’s common for a quarter of the class to drop out in the first few weeks.
Tip: Ask for help. Harrell estimates that under 1 percent of students make use of office hours. “That’s something that’s really hard for students, especially high-achieving students.”
Principles of Animal Nutrition, Ohio State University
Nearly a third of all students either withdrew or received a grade below C− last year. That could be because of a misconception that the course is about food choices, rather than chemistry, biology and physics, suggests Professor Pasha A. Lyvers Peffer. Another reason: “I could never play a musical instrument or sing no matter how hard I tried. Sometimes we are not wired to succeed in areas.”
Tip: Rate My Professor says: “Definitely take good notes, and write down every little thing she says.” Popular tag: “Skip class? You won’t pass.”
Theory and History of Video Games, Swarthmore College
Students play classic video games like Myst and Tomb Raider, but also have an extensive reading list and must design a game to “make a personal argument or transgress a boundary,” says Professor Bob Rehak. Around 40 percent of students get a C or lower. The Cs and Ds, he says, treat the class as entertainment, making “the experience for themselves a shallower one.”
Tip: Treat game play like readings, the professor says, with plenty of note taking.
Baseball and Society: Politics, Economics, Race and Gender, University Of Connecticut
Steven Wisensale cuts out the cruisers before they enroll. Students must apply for the course by writing an essay explaining their interest. After a careful reading, the professor picks 50 to 55 from a pool of 160 to 180. “In the end, I save unsuspecting students lots of trouble, and of course I save myself lots of trouble.” The course requires a nine-part portfolio, lots of reading and video viewing, and a major paper. “Everyone knows what the course is about, what’s in front of us, and why we are all together in one room talking about important issues disguised as baseball.”
Tip: Rate My Professor assessment: “If you’re hoping to skate through your required policy class, avoid this one.”