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Destler Dodge

RIT is weird. This fact has become established as part of our school’s reputation. We have eclectic students who span a wide variety of majors in the arts and sciences. Some of our programs, like Packaging Science, are so rare that there are few others like them in the country. We were ranked the Geekiest Campus in America by ThinkGeek in 2014. Weird is basically our norm.

But in all that is weird and wonderful at RIT, some things can go overlooked. How does one find unique classes to help fuel the weirdness in the vast sea of courses offered?

What doobscure classes look like?

At RIT, students are admitted and placed directly into classes for their major. These majors are varied and odd in themselves — a conglomeration of humanities, technologies and arts. To get a reading on the unusual classes within your own major, it is recommended that you talk to your advisor, or even older students within your program.

If you look on a campus-wide level, however, there are general education, perspective and activity courses that students can take. These can even be paired up in a way to create a unique immersion or minor (for example, you can do your immersion in Social Inequalities).

Often, when you search for prospective classes on the Student Information System (SIS), you will receive a message that says “Your search will return over 50 classes, would you like to continue?” with a foreboding question mark to deter unsuspecting students. These are the types of classes that are not generally recommended by your major. They are not required; they may not even be regularly offered. These are the classes that you need to actively search for, while staying attuned to all of the weirdness that RIT offers.

Leah Bockhahn, a fourth year Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety (ESHS) major, offered some words of wisdom on the subject: “I came across Intro to Wilderness Survival and jumped on the opportunity to participate. I've always loved the outdoors and thought it would be a great way to gain some valuable, interesting and unique skills.”

How do I find one of these classes?

A group of RIT students recently developed Tiger Center, which is intended to take the place of the Student Information System (SIS). SIS is still available for students; it just comes down to personal preference on which site you choose to search for classes.

During her second year, Bockhahn took Introduction to Wilderness Survival with only about eight other students that had also discovered the class. She found the class after combing through SIS and then using the Computer Science House’s Schedule Maker to find that it fit with her schedule.

To find a strange class that can fulfill a perspective requirement, you can enter the perspective you are trying to fill into Tiger Center's advanced search. Comb through the classes to find one that piques your interest. Congratulations, you're now enrolled in Harmonica & the Blues.

Why should I take an obscure class?

While the general classes you take for your major are important, indulging in some of RIT’s uniqueness will make the college experience more interesting, and will help break up anything potentially mundane.

“[Introduction to Wilderness Survival] gave me a break from the everyday," Bockhan said. "You get into this rhythm of class, work, homework, class and repeat. Having a unique course like Wilderness Survival kept me on my toes, and gave me something to really look forward to each week.”

Every field offers something useful, and expanding your horizons will help you see how to apply a variety of skills to what you truly want to do within your major. It offers the opportunity to be social with other people outside of your major, and get a greater view of how other people perceive different subjects. Applying what you learn within your major to other areas of concentration helps to build a greater understanding.

“I felt like I could apply skills from my past, as well as my academic work to the course. That course definitely made that semester rank as one of my favorites thus far,” Bockhahn reflected.

What kinds of class should I take?

There is so much of the weird and wonderful at RIT, so discovering what may be the best fit for you will require some searching to learn more. Thinking about how it relates to classes that could apply to your major is also important. Bockhahn's major has a strong focus on creating a more environmentally responsible world, so for her, Introduction to Wilderness Survival was very important.

"We were taught to respect the forest, about medicinal and edible plants and different survival skills for different weather conditions,” she said.

For example, if you are a student in the College of Computing, taking a class such as Dangerous Texts would expand your knowledge of censorship and free speech, and you could apply those lessons learned to the digital age. Or, if you need to brush up on your handyman skills as an Engineering student, taking a class such as Welding and Fabrication could be extremely helpful. If you are new to the area and just want to learn more about Rochester, take The City in History (Rochester). Or maybe you are any student from any major just looking to live out a lifelong fantasy, and decide to take Ninja Training to help fulfill that dream.

Whatever you decide, there are a plethora of classes you can take in order to make your experience at RIT truly memorable.