Name That Course: In Plain Language, Please

March 10, 2014

In a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, Rob Stephenson, an associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, lamented what he calls “the increasingly bizarre course names listed on transcripts” that he encounters when reviewing graduate school applications. “What, exactly, does someone learn in a course called Finding Myself,” he wonders, and what would a low grade mean in such a course?

He finds that most class names are self-explanatory (Organic Chemistry, Calculus) and the attached grades impart useful information about a student’s academic strengths or struggles. “But what if a student earned a B in Racism, what exactly did they study? And is getting a B in Racism a good or a bad thing?” Stephenson writes. “At least 20 percent of the transcripts I read have a course that leaves me scratching my head.”

Among the categories into which these courses fall include Vague One-Word Titles (example: Stupidity), and Too Clever to Be Useful (example: Those Sexy Victorians).

“Professors,” Stephenson pleads, “give your course a title indicative of its content. It can still be fun, but please spare me from guessing what the student who took Nuthin' but a "G" Thang may be expected to know.
To read the entire article and more examples of mysterious course names, click here.

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