Scuba masks, foil and pottery wheels are not common school supplies sold at Staples or the GW Bookstore. But they are necessary tools for some of GW’s fun classes.
Untraditional classes offer students an opportunity to quench their extra curricular interests or experiment with something out of the ordinary.
Sophomore Nishant Mehra takes a one-credit racquetball class that meets twice a week. He took fencing for fun last spring.
“The classes tend to be a lot of fun,” Mehra said. “They are a chance to get away from the pressure of more academic classes and provide a little GPA boost.”
Art programs at GW are one of the types of these lighter classes that many GW students take. Some of the popular courses students outside the art program include introduction to photography, design, ceramics, painting and sculpture.
Freshman Melissa Dunn said she enjoys her sculpture class because it is relaxed and there is little homework.
“I like art and I wanted to try something new,” Dunn said.
Many students take exercise and sport activity classes offered by GW’s exercise science department as a break from their reading and writing lectures.
These classes include tennis and other racquet sports, fencing, golf, yoga, jogging, karate, swimming, horseback riding, weight training, inline skating and much more.
“There are about 50 classes within the program that any student can take,” said Donald Paup, professor and director of GW Exercise Science Programs. “There are about 1,200 students in the program here.”
Freshman Andrea Batta enrolled in yoga because she said it sounded like a break from her more rigorous classes.
“It’s good for relieving stress. It was a life saver this semester,” Batta said. “We were given some packets to read to help us, but it was not really required that we read them.”
GW also offers certification programs available for: lifeguards/lifeguard instructors, aerobics instructor training, scuba diving, sports massage, water safety instructor and shiatsu massage.
Freshman Julie Barber said she is taking scuba diving this semester because she always wanted to become a certified diver.
“It’s not academic, but you still have to work,” Barber said. “We have a midterm and a final exam.”
The exercise science department also offers three-credit courses. Some of the courses are taken as electives for any GW student, while others are taken to fulfill requirements for majors within the program.
Some of the topics covered include introduction to alternative medicine, emergency procedures, body image, drug awareness, health and wellness, nutrition, anatomy physiology and human sexuality.
“Human sex was a great course,” senior Stephanie Huff said. “You learn a lot if you are open to it.”
Some students use these alternative courses to explore an interest they have always held.
“I have always wanted to learn how to fence and I decided to take the opportunity when it arose,” said sophomore Nishant Mehra.
For students who take mostly three-credit classes, taking an extra class just for fun makes sense economically speaking. Because tuition covers 17 credits each semester, students can use up all of their credits with the fun, one-credit courses.
“Most never make use of more than 15 or 16 (credits,” Mehra said. “By taking exercise science courses, I feel like I am getting the most for my money.”
Senior Sacha Bice said that not all of these fun classes are easy.
“I took anatomy physiology, which is a four-credit lab course, for fun,” Bice said. “I want to go to med school, and it was a good way to see if I could handle it. But it was actually a hard course. I had to do a lot of memorization.”
Other students take some of the sports and activities courses because it helps motivate them to workout.
“I needed scheduled fitness time,” said freshman Keri Osborne explaining why she decided to take an aerobics class. “I never want to go to it, but I know that it is good for me.”
While these classes seem to be good overall, they do have their downsides. Since there are few, if any exams, in most of GW’s “fun” classes, grades depend largely on attendance. Some of these classes also meet during awkward times – sometimes from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. – when some students said they want to study.
GW students need a way to relieve their stress and be creative and athletic. Part of being at college is having fun. Besides, who ever said that classes couldn’t be fun?