The 6 Most Worthless University Classes I Took

I graduated with a degree in Communications from a university I’ve opted to redact the name from (you’ll see why later) with cum laude honors in May 2011. It’s a degree I hate, a degree I never plan on using, and a degree that was a mistake and now every time I look at the damn thing all I see is the phrase “I should have done this differently”. I was very apathetic toward my college education so much that I’d frequently skip on buying textbooks and never once did I ever study or “cram” for a test. There were no late 3AM nights studying for the big biology exam or rushing to turn in an assignment because it was due in 15 minutes. I just did not give a shit. I drank Red Bull ironically, not because I had places to go and things to do and through all of this I managed to graduate with a GPA of 3.5. Either I’m some kind of self-defeating genius, or this campus is just where people went when they couldn’t get into the colleges they dream about.

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Pictured above: How I “studied” for tests.

Either way, whatever the case is I went to college and completed it. I didn’t pay attention to a damn thing I didn’t find interesting which means that for most of the classes I took I was there physically but not mentally. I took over 50 classes while enrolled, almost half of which were taken in conjunction with some form of weekly psychiatric counseling. While my Office Space approach to not giving a damn somehow worked in my favor there were still classes I took that were insurmountably worthless. Here’s six [required!!] classes I took that were utter wastes of my time and money.

 

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Student retention is serious business in the college scene. Universities operate because they charge exorbitant tuition rates and own bookstores that operate on GameStop’s “charge the customer $140 for something and give them $10 for it when they trade it in” business model. Of course, it’s not the colleges’ fault that by the time the semester ends your biology textbook has had 17 new editions released and is completely worthless. That’s tangential, but the point I’m getting to is that colleges and universities devote entire budgets and committees to coming up with ways to keep students at their schools, that’s how they can stay in business. More students == more money.

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Unfortunately, photoshopped black students are still worth $0.

My alma matter had this wonderful little program of “triad” and “tetrad” classes with which sounds more like an Asian gang and Tetris marathon than any sort of serious academic system. You took your core curriculum classes in “packs” of 3 or 4 like you were bundling insurance from Progressive or something and the last class in these prefab groups was always a 1 credit hour class titled “First Year Seminar”. FYS was a required class for all non-transfer freshman students and it existed to give new students a chance to “acclimate” to college life. In reality all it did was piss people off and probably didn’t help in the whole “retention” category of things.

First, the class was mandatory for virtually everybody regardless of whether or not you wanted shit spoon-fed to you, and secondly you had to pay for this course. Yep, this uncategorized, worthless, non-transferable 1 hour class was required. Twice. You had to take two semesters of this bullshit hence the title “first year” and all they did was sit you in a room and talk about what you were doing in your other triad/tetrad classes. It was nothing more than a “hey how’s it going” course where you were placed in a room with 20 other new students in an effort to try and get you to make some new friends at the university… because we need a fucking class for this after having been through twelve years of public school doing the exact same thing.

Here’s an actual assignment we were given in this “course”: draw a picture of where you’d like your college education to take you (a.k.a. “what do you want to be when you grow up”). Here’s another: “make a list of songs that you think summarize your life and feelings”. I’m dead serious. What is this? Second fucking grade?

It goes without saying attendance in this class was less than perfect across the board.

 

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I took Macroeconomics Principles because I read the first five letters and defaulted to Godzilla porn and let my dick do the class registration. No, that’s not the reason at all. It was a required course and that’s that. One thing that rings true for virtually every core class is that it’s guaranteed to suck because the instructors are notoriously apathetic about their course and students. They aren’t there to make personal connections with you because they just don’t give a shit; their class is simply full of students who may or may not have any interest in the material whatsoever and are only there because it’s a required class. The professors have better things to worry about and the students have better things to do, like playing guitar in the university cafeteria (and by that I mean repeating the same three goddamn chords while singing shitty Sublime covers to ditsy and easily impressed high school cheerleader has-beens).

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This guy goes to every university.

This particular professor went above and beyond the “not giving a shit” theory and dared to not give two shits. Not only was he an impersonal twat he never physically handed out a single assignment and required everything be done online. He had a special website for submitting essays and a special website for taking weekly quizzes. Yes, two different websites.  Everything we did, including our final exam, was done online. Using online sites is fine and dandy… if you’re taking a goddamn online class from a television commercial. If I’m paying you — more mind you — to sit in a physical lecture room instead of at my laptop in my shitty apartment I kind of expect you to at least Xerox us something. Anything. Give us a paper with words printed on it so we can put it in a notebook and say “oh this is for economics”. Learn how to use Powerpoint and put something on the projector, and if you’re too lazy for even that then at least type something up in fucking Word and throw it up on the screen. Sitting at your desk like a jackass and reminding us to sign up and use a website we will never use again just so your lazy ass can play FreeCell all day is the worst possible way to teach someone. You could teach a preschooler all of his colors wrong on purpose and still be seen as a better educator than this asshole.

The best part about these “handy” online sites is that they graded everything for him automatically. Yes, this cheap son of a bitch didn’t even grade his own assignments. All of the quizzes were either multiple choice or short answer which were graded against a database of phrases and common answers to gauge whether or not they were correct. Even more hilarious was the essay website which basically did the same thing with an entire essay. The instructor didn’t read a single essay unless there was a glitch in the matrix and it spat back a bunch of garbage or an incorrect grade. The website read the essays for him and scanned for basic phrases and their proximity to one another, term/synonym frequencies and ratios, and usage of “vocabulary words” from the textbook chapters. If you knew how to cheat the system you could have submitted a block of “Lorem ipsum” text with key phrases thrown in there and receive a passing grade.

I’m not saying I did that myself, but I’m also not saying I didn’t.

 

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The first two entries in this list came off of the core curriculum roster, and honestly if I wanted to I could fill the remaining four slots of this article with bullshit throwaway classes like US History to Civil War and State & Local Government, but like I mentioned in the economics entry, all core classes suck. Video Production was one of the first degree-specific classes I took meaning that from here on out my courses would have less students in them and more direct interactions with my instructors. I was looking forward to finally getting some quality education now that I had completed the worthless First Year Seminar gauntlet of double tetrads (honestly “gauntlet of double tetrads” sounds like the name of the obstacle course from American Gladiators).

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Basically the same thing.

Then I met the instructor.

Public Speaking was another required core class that I had to take, and there is some relevance to this statement. Its instructor was honestly one of the most idiotic people I’ve ever had the displeasure of being in the same room as. She was so clueless and ditsy that the closer you stood to her had an inverse effect on your ability to assemble coherent thoughts, not because she was attractive or anything but because she was so incomprehensibly retarded and her field effect was akin to a radio tower of stupid. Wherever she went she was followed by personal subtitles because the only sound that ever came out of her mouth was “DURRRRRR”. She was in charge of teaching the video production course. Joy.

The objective of the course was for us to learn “professional” editing techniques with Final Cut Pro. With this bozo teaching us I’d have been grateful if she taught the class how to turn on the fucking computer. Our first assignment was to create a short 90 second video about anything we wanted so she could gauge what we already knew about editing videos. Just to spite her, I turned in an homage to Zoolander that consisted of my dancing around a Blockbuster Video after hours and breaking things. It was edited beautifully.

Basically the endgame here is that I didn’t learn a damn thing in this class that I didn’t already know; it was an easy “A”. My most memorable experience with this course, however, has to go to the only time I approached the instructor with a problem. After class had dismissed I approached the teacher and wanted to ask her a question, I started with “I have just a quick question, I live off campus and have to commute to get here so I can’t edit all of my videos in the lab directly, many I edit the ‘basic’ stuff at home and bring those pieces to assemble here in the editing lab?”

She looked right at me and replied, “Oh, well, yeah if you have a question you can email me and I’ll get back to you.”

I nodded and said “that’s great but we’re presently standing five feet away from each other and it’s a simple question that I’d like to have an answer to since I just asked it.”

She cocked her head like a dog watching someone jerk off with a raw chicken and after a brief moment wherein I can only assume all three of her brain cells tried to come up with a response she just repeated her previous answer and walked out of the lab.

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“What the fuck do you think this is, a SCHOOL?”

Seriously, for someone who’s supposed to be teaching a public speaking class (let alone video production) could the university have possibly found anymore more socially retarded than this winner? Why the hell would you want to hide behind the veil of computer-mediated communication with your students when one of them is literally in same room as you asking you a simple question in real time? You’re an instructor at a university, it’s time to put your big girl pants on and grow a pair. Metaphorically.

Because if she actually had a pair… then I guess I can understand why she wants to minimize the amount of face-to-face interaction in her life.

 

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I write. I hope this article makes that obvious; if not, we have ourselves a problem. If I had to put together a document that listed all of my qualifications, like a resume… or something, under Skills I’d have two things: “writing” and “dinosaurs”. Not paleontology or anything, just “dinosaurs”. “Technical writing” is a form of writing that can best be described as boilerplate, generic, and tiresome professional writing. I took three technical writing classes: Foundations of Professional Writing, Writing in the Professions, and Writing in Computer-Networked Environments. Yes, those first two sound like the exact same class (spoiler alert: they were). Truth be told all three of them were essentially the same class and I realize I’m cheating by bundling three classes into one entry but I did this with good reason: The curriculum for every technical writing class was written by the same instructor.

If there was ever an example of an instructor being so disconnected with their students this was it. This professor didn’t just idly sit in their office or anything, she was actively engaged with her students but her exuberance was completely nullified by the simple fact that nobody knew what the hell was going on. She’d talk to us about our projects and then the very next week when she asked us how they were coming along she’d have something completely different to say and tell us we were doing it wrong. I’m dead serious.

I had three technical writing classes but she was the instructor for only one of them. We had this bullshit group assignment that was cast upon myself and two random students to continue this “quality assurance survey” that was being done each year. All we had to do was get other technical writing students to fill it out and our job was to interpret the answers.

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Wrong kind of survey.

The problem with this assignment, despite its brainless difficulty, is that when it came to the open-ended opinion questions regarding the tech writing program all of the students ended up using these fields to take pot shots at the instructor. No joke. I’m going to cease explaining the shittiness of the curriculum and let these survey responses, which I’ve held onto all this time, speak for themselves. These are all real and unedited responses collected from this survey:

Q: How do you feel your class(es) in Technical Writing could be improved?
“[The instructor] is really scatter-brained. She doesn’t update her schedule when she changes dates and the class gets confused.”

“For a allegedly professional course, the class I am enrolled in is largely disorganized. There is a lack of structure in the classroom and an overall feeling of hostility.”

“Let all instructors create their own curriculum instead of having one person write it all. It confuses other professors and hinders the educational benefit derived from the classes.”

“Our instructor didn’t even get to teach her own curriculum, it was some premade nonsense from another instructor, and it was also a DECADE old. Everything was outdated, links to examples were broken, and most hilariously of all an example document we were given about POTATO FARMING was seven years newer than the damn course plans.” 

Q: What is the purpose of your community-based project?
“I don’t know. I’ve asked for clarification many times and I get a different answer each time. Your guess is as good as mine.” 

“I really don’t see a purpose because it has nothing to do with school work, so why are we wasting our school time to work on something that doesn’t even relate to school.”

“I don’t know. We don’t understand the assignment and it’s the middle of November. We have no idea what we are supposed to do, and some of us are in fear of failing the class because of this stupid fucking thing.”

Q: Have you been emotionally effected by your “service learning experience”? (SLE = Group Assignment)
“Yes, but not by the project rather by our professor.  This class has been a yo-yo like experience from the beginning.  We are asked to collaborate yet when we speak to our partners we are punished and scolded like little school children.”

“Yeah it’s stressful and very confusing and I don’t like it at all. It’s made me feel okay about skipping tech writing class on a number of occasions because we hardly do anything.”

“No, all though i been pissed off throughout the class because the teachers doesn’t even know what needs to be done on the portfolio so how are students going to know.” 

Q: What personal values do you feel this class has strengthened in you?
“I’d like to say “patience” but I can’t quite bring myself to really say so.” 

This is some serious fangs-out shit right here. We asked a bunch of students their thoughts on the class and almost all of them responded with “this class fucking blows p.s. the instructor is retarded”. Putting our survey results together proved to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it’s not like we can turn in a document to the person who wrote the curriculum that destroys everything she’s put together while making potato farming jokes. (Seriously though? Fucking potato farming?) In the end we weaseled out of it because I went into the survey site at the last minute and purposefully broke all of the open response questions to only record “ ” as an answer regardless of input to demonstrate that none of them ever recorded a valid response.

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We have no idea how it happened. We swear.

The above diatribe kind of encompasses all of the tech writing classes in general but it doesn’t let me fit in my favorite tidbit about the instructor. The university I attended was comprised of several buildings where classes were grouped by theme or subject. The building designated for the English and Composition had this problem with feral cats; the outside of the building smelled like a cat with a bladder of novelty (or fetish) proportions just pissed all over everything. This was a problem because someone kept feeding the cats and because of this the cats associated this building with free food and ended up camping out in the trees and bushes surrounding it while pissing unendingly. I’ll give you three guesses as to who kept feeding the fucking cats and the last two guesses don’t count.

 

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Contrary to popular belief there’s more to taking a Spanish class than watching Telemundo and grainy VHS copies of Muzzy and ordering food in Spanish from the local Mexican restaurant, an act that’s made only mildly offensive because it’s for “educational purposes”. College-level Spanish is nothing like high school Spanish. Okay, that was a lie; it’s basically the same thing except the rooms don’t have any goofy Spanish posters, there’s no Muzzy, and there’s no field trips to Taco Town. The only field trips you get are “get your own damn tacos and be to class on time”.

Foreign language teachers are, in my experience, some of the best instructors you’ll ever have. They have such colorful personalities and they’re always energetic like they perpetually just snorted a line of coke, and I think it might be because every time you say something to them they mentally hear it twice, in two different languages, at the exact same time. They’re not exuberant, they’re just batshit insane and they’re always one “me gusta” away from painting the walls with their feces.

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This.

I don’t hate my foreign language teachers, though. Between high school and university I took four years of Spanish and because of how fun and involved my instructors were I ended up learning and retaining quite a bit of knowledge of the language, so how come Spanish I & II ended up in this list? Because my university forced some retarded standards on the class that brought down how enjoyable it was. Learning about accents via the instructor’s mascot “Dieresis the Rattlesnake” was fun but practicing our Spanish in the campus language lab was total bullshit.

The language lab was a room that could best be described as looking exactly like the call center for an international technical support company serving Mexico. There were computers and headsets everywhere and people were busily sitting at their machines typing every once in a while and taking breaks to say a few lines in Spanish and repeat them several times like the person on the other end was either deaf or stupid. The assignments from the language lab were required, worth 10% of our final grades, and were present in both Spanish I & II.

I have a bit of an impediment with speaking aloud. It tends to get worse the closer I am to a telephone or a device that serves the same purpose as one. It’s a bizarre and strange phobia, but welcome to my life. In the language lab I was wholly capable of answering the simple test questions on the computer screen, but when it came time to recite things verbally that’s when it fell apart; the software was simply programmed like hell. When it orders you to recite a phrase it will beep without warning and give you barely enough time to speak until it beeps again when you inevitably screw up and the timer starts over. There’s no pause, it just keeps beeping until you say it and say it the right way.

This didn’t sit well with me, as wearing what amounts to a phone headset and being instructed to speak puts me in a weird position. The microscopic window of speech time didn’t make it any better, either. For an assignment that was only supposed to take 20 minutes I ended up sitting in the language lab like a moron for almost an hour. It was easily the most embarrassing thing that I’ve ever done. I abandoned the assignment mid-way through and never returned to do another lab project for either semester.

 

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This is it, and I don’t mean that phrase in the context of being the final tour of a deceased pop star, this was the worst and most worthless class I ever enrolled in. Everything about this course from enrollment to completion was a play-by-play journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy except this was a caricature of Hell comprised entirely of outdated copies of Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.

It all began with a simple roster conflict; to start us off I believe this course had the handbook number “ARTS1301” or something to that extent. The actual number doesn’t matter but the assignment pattern here does; a class ending with “01” was naturally the first in its category. When I was accepted into the university I was accepted under the stipends of the 2006 class handbook where “01” signified “Graphic Design I”. As per my degree plan I was required to take “ARTS1301” as one of my degree-specific courses. Graphic Design II was one of the last classes I ever enrolled in and during the five years it took me to get around to completing it the college restructured their class codes. “ARTS1301” was no longer the first graphic design class; “ARTS1301” was now Graphic Design II. (“00” was now used for the first class.)

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No, really. Y U NO HAS?

I immediately brought this to the attention of my degree counselor and in summary what happened was that they could have overridden the mistakes… if it weren’t for the fact that all the level 1 classes were full. Since this was a computer lab class it’s not like there was an extra chair I could take, I was stuck with the advanced class. However I had graphic design experience so I figured there’d be some catching up but it wouldn’t be killer. Big mistake.

Our instructor was, without a doubt, the most unprofessional person I will ever meet. She was such a hypocritical bitch it’s not even funny. It all began with our first assignment: creating a logo and new advertising package for a local company. This was a real assignment, as in this company would eventually use the “best” logo on their stationery and all of that crap. The company she picked was some construction business whose existing logo, I shit you not, was designed in fucking Jokerman font. Before we ever met these people and were handed business cards with their existing logo I honestly thought I was being fucked with and that this was just a hypothetical exercise and there couldn’t possibly be someone retarded enough to think Jokerman was a suitable font for anything other than a kindergarten fiesta.

The owners of this company just did not give a fuck, they were late to every single class meeting they were supposed to attend which I guess is to be expected when you’re talking about someone stupid enough to use a super-serif typeface on their goddamn stationery. On the day of our final presentation to these dickheads we were sitting in a comfortable office meeting room at the university and I asked to go first because I had a photography appointment at the local aquarium; I was to be taking pictures of dolphins for my photography class and I was psyched. Were the owners of the construction company late? You bet your ass they were. I couldn’t stay for the whole class but I stayed in the office room for a goddamn hour and they were still no shows. I said “screw it” and walked out of the classroom. I had better shit to do, and by “better shit” I mean fucking dolphins.

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Miss THIS for some stupid second-rate construction company? No fuckin’ way. Blow it out your ass.

The people from the construction company could have at least acted like they wanted a free fucking logo. Unprofessional, and pathetically so.

Perhaps the construction mishap wasn’t directly the instructor’s fault, but then again she’s the one who found these jerk offs. This person was the worst teacher ever, she never demonstrated or explained what she was doing, she just assumed we knew everything and I realize this was an advanced class but more people than just me were lost in her “instructions”. After wading through the bullshit of Retarded Construction Incorporated our next assignment was to create a brochure for a local business of our choosing. This was just an exercise, they weren’t going to use it, so we were free to be creative (no Jokerman). She gave us almost seven weeks to make this brochure before giving us our second assignment. Care to know what that was? A complete 14-piece advertising package (billboards, flash ads, banner ads, business cards, etc) for a local business of her choosing.

By the time we “finished” the brochure we had two weeks left in the class… to make fourteen fucking pieces of advertising. If the brochure took seven weeks to make this project, by her timeline, would have theoretically taken almost two years to complete. Mercifully this was a group assignment and we were able to skate by with making two samples and drawing the rest by hand and explaining the design ideas because not learning how to use InDesign was totally the point of this class.

This “professional” graphic designer was adamant about us being to class on time yet she herself was upwards of thirty minutes late on numerous occasions (sometimes just not showing up altogether), and at one point even brought her loudmouth crotchdropping to class with her. What the fuck? Fine. I understand you might have things to take care of in your graphic design job, which I’m sure is just totally fucking busy and time-consuming because it takes hours to place white Helvetica text on a solid color bar, but if you can’t have your shit together to leave at the door when you go into “teacher mode” then get the fuck out of the classroom. You don’t belong here. 

I’m normally a nice guy, and despite how much I hated the first five classes of this article I was soft when it came time for the anonymous semester evaluations for each of our classes, but when this class showed up? I blasted the hell out of it. My “comments regarding the class” was basically everything you just read in this entry. I hope this “teacher” read it, and I hope it made her miserable. Good riddance.

 

I’m summary? College might seem like a waste of time, and for all I know it probably is, but the moral of the story is this: “pursue your dreams no matter what they are, and just because somoene’s name is suffixed with ‘PhD’ that isn’t always a synonym for intelligence”. Also, dolphins.

– Dracophile