Peg DeMarco

Peg DeMarco

If your newly high school graduate is unsure of where he or she wants to go to further his or her education and nothing seems to peak his or her interest, an article I read recently on might help.

For instance, there’s a course offered at Appalachian State University right here in North Carolina called “Dr. Seuss and Y(our) World.” Taught by Dr. Donald Presnell, the curriculum described the course as: “The works of Dr. Seuss are frequently (and often incorrectly) read and discussed as simplistic, highly visual stories for entertaining children and helping them begin to develop print literacy. However, many of his books — especially the longer, more complex narratives and stories — address such timely and relevant themes as politics; race; class; religion; and ethics.” The course examines the longer works of Dr. Seuss in aesthetic, narrative and interdisciplinary contexts through such starting points as art, literature, science, philosophy, anthropology, mythology and history.

Who would have thought that “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” would be on the list of required reading for college?

Also, consider the latest craze in fashion from dyeing one’s hair all sorts of rainbow colors, to piercings and tattooing just about every inch of one’s body. Ever wonder why people are doing it now to such extreme? The class “Nip, Tuck, Perm, Pierce, Tattoo, Embalm: Adventures with Embodied Culture” at New York’s Alfred University offers a class that examines the body and how/why it’s altered and delves into all types of culture in every part of the world. This evolution produces what we see in trends and fashion culture of today.

Every student at Montclair State University in New Jersey who aspires to make it big on Instagram enrolls in the “Going Viral” class. The lecture-style course investigates why and how certain content takes off and the impact of emerging media on society. It also looks at how social media is transforming the way we engage in business, politics, entertainment and activism. Students also get to try their hand at going viral and seeing firsthand results.

The course “Emoji Worlds” offered by the University of Michigan also caught my interest. Sure, emojis are cute, but important enough for a college course? Emojis were created in 1999 by a Japanese pager and cellphone designer who was inspired to create a new form of mobile expression. I don’t think he realized then what an impact his emojis would have on our culture today. Rather than simply texting and using emojis for fun, this course is far from it. It’s described as a complex course that uses the emoji to consider the connection between emotion, communication, and mental images.

Whether you actually believe the zombie apocalypse is coming or are just entranced by people who do, you’ll want to look into “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Disasters, Catastrophe and Human Behavior” offered at Michigan State University. It’s a fully online course that fuses social theory and zombie pop culture into an informative and engaging class – if you’re into that sort of thing.

The course “Outdoor Living Skills” offered by Lees-McRae College here in Banner Elk, North Carolina, sounds like something devoted to camping. However, it’s so much more than that. The private college teaches ways for students to prepare for survival in the wild. Students master skills like cooking and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, and fire building. They also learn safety skills like backcountry lightening procedures, search and rescue techniques, navigation, route planning, river crossing, weather and astronomy.

Lees-McRae also offers a variety of sports-focused classes, ranging from skiing, to rock climbing, to fly fishing and even zipline skills. Yes, the college has a zipline course on campus.

Learning how to surf and getting college credit sounds too good to be true, but students at the University of Southern California can sign up for a surfing course offered at Santa Monica beach every semester. According to its description, enrollees learn everything from the fundamentals of the sport to water safety and wave recognition.

And move over zombie lovers because Yale University offers an English course on “Vampires, Castles, and Werewolves,” which examines 18th- and 19th-century gothic fiction and gothic tropes in 20th- and 21st-century film, television and prose. Material ranges from Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’m not too sure I would agree with teaching a course on this next one, but prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers “How to Stage a Revolution,” which explores the causes and nature of revolution and delves into how exactly people are able to overthrow their rulers and establish new governments.

That may be a little too radical or tempting, especially in the politically charged climate in America today. I’d discontinue that one at least until after the next election.

Peg DeMarco is a Morganton resident who writes a weekly features column for The News Herald. Contact her at

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