10 classes to take before you graduate


by Michelle Woodward

Still looking for one more class to fill your schedule? Want to take a class outside of your major, but not sure where to start? We have you covered with 10 fun and interesting classes you may not know are offered right here at UMass Amherst.

1: Basic Scuba (NRC 120)

The only prerequisite to this course is being able to swim and enjoy being in the water. The class is offered Monday through Thursday nights, 7 to 10 p.m. Half of this time is spent in the classroom, and half of it is actually spent learning hands-on scuba diving techniques in the Curry Hicks pool. At the end of the semester, students will have earned certification and have the option of participating in either the New Years or Spring Break extra credit scuba diving trip to Florida. If you love adventure and exploration, you’ll love this class!

“It’s a little bit like flying,” says instructor David Stillman, “It’s a beautiful place to be.”

Although the class costs $150 and requires you to buy some basic equipment, it’s much less than taking scuba diving lessons elsewhere and it earns you two credits at UMass.

2: Creative Arts Young Children (EDUC 497D)

Spire describes this course as one that, “examines the relationship of art and music to aspects of teaching and learning in other areas.  There will be opportunities for students to use basic art media, including paint, clay, collage, and wood.” Let me do a translation for you here: arts and crafts. It may be a 400 level course, but its really just about learning fun and creative things to do if you teach kindergarten. If you love construction paper, crayons and scotch tape, this three credit class is for you!


3. Beverage Management (HT-MGT 356)

Who wouldn’t love a class where you take field trips to local breweries and give presentations on the origins of tequila? Beverage management is an introductory class where you learn about the food and beverage industry and study six beverage categories: water, coffee, tea, beer, wine, distilled spirits and alcoholic alternatives.

“It’s very interactive and hands-on,” says senior Hannah Robinson, “For example we got to do a wine tasting when learning about red wine.”

You must be 21 or older take the class, and unfortunately it’s only available to Hospitality and Tourism Management majors. But if you meet these requirements, it’s an excellent choice because you not only earn three credits at UMass, but you’ll also graduate from the course having passed the internationally recognized Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) program.

4. Modern Dance I (DANCE 113)

Modern dance is a great class for students to get on their feet if they need a break between long boring lectures. It’s fun and interactive, and although its a beginner level course they do suggest some prior knowledge of dance techniques before enrolling. The class is taught by senior dance majors who will instruct you on aspects of dance such as alignment, suspension, isolation, breath, recovery and rebound. Although it says you must be a dance major to enroll online, other majors are often able to get into this and other dance classes at UMass through instructor permission. But if you’re interested in the course you need to be sure to act fast, because the spots fill up very quickly!

5. Comic Art in North America (COMP-LIT 335)

If you weren’t already a comic book nerd, you will be after this class. Comic Art in North America is a course that studies the history of comic art, from newspaper comic strips through comic books graphic novels. It’s a four credit class that satisfies your general education art (but don’t worry, you won’t have to draw a thing!) and United States diversity requirements.


Classes in the Five-College system


6. Beginner Golf (Smith College 925, Mount Holyoke College 137)

Did you know we have not one but two golf courses offered in the five college system? Golf 1 at Smith College is an introduction to the game of golf that teaching from “green to tee.” There is no additional cost for the class and equipment is provided! At Mount Holyoke you can enroll in Beginning Golf, a class much like the one at Smith that covers the fundamentals, from swing techniques to golf course etiquette and golf rules. This class meets at Orchards golf course and requires a $25 fee for the second half of the semester course.

7. American Sign Language (Hampshire College 0123)

Hampshire College is the only five college institution to go beyond common language classes like Latin, French and Spanish to offer American Sign Language. The four credit class will give you an overview of the language and culture of the deaf community and you’ll even have to give a skit in sign language! They also offer a second course for those who complete the first and would like to learn more.


8. Outdoor Skill: Whitewater Canoe (Smith College 940)

It’s time to take advantage of the beautiful rivers around you in western Massachusetts with this outdoor skill class. This one credit course gets you outside and teaches you the fundamentals of solo and tandem whitewater canoeing. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to go out in the snow because this class only meets the last six weeks of the semester. Just make sure you are a comfortable and able swimmer before enrolling, because you might get a little wet.


9. Hip Hop (Amherst College THDA 122H)

At UMass we have Modern Dance, Ballet and Jazz. But what if you’re a little less likely to be able to stand on your toes and little more likely to drop it low? Hip Hop at Amherst College might be the right choice for you. The course description says, “from the old school ‘bronx’ style to commercial hip hop, [you] learn a wide range of hip-hop vocabulary in a course emphasizing group choreography, floor work and partner work.” The best part? Unlike at UMass, this class emphasizes that there in fact is no previous dance experience necessary before enrolling!

10.Thru Hiking (Hampshire College 144)

If you’re an earthy outdoorsy type, this class is for you! Students learn how to select gear and equipment and prepare meal plans for long distance hiking. Throughout the semester the class goes on numerous hikes through sections of the Robert Frost Trail, and at the end will plan a seven day thru-hike where students will travel a long-distance trail from end-to-end. The course will prepare you with everything you need, but there is a $150 lab fee that covers transportation, equipment, food, camping fees and maps.


Michelle Woodward can be reached at [email protected]

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