Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What I Learned: Part 3

This blog post is the third in a series where I go through my college transcripts, class-by-class, to determine what exactly it was that I spent six years learning. Come with me on this magical journey that might lead me to the promised land of employment and the American dream! (Part 1, Part 2.)

Spring 2004
Enter semester two of college. If you haven't kept up, click the two links above to get the story so far. Otherwise, let's continue the journey through college to see what I learned from each class.

Always remember, kids, Tom's advantage is in his nuts (click photo for larger image).

ECN 200 — Survey of Economics
Yes, believe it or not, economics was a required course for journalism majors at Marshall. I understood this somewhat, as journalists need to know a little bit about everything, and economics could come in handy if one lands a business beat. (Or really works in the news at all considering today's economic situation in the U.S.) I was pleasantly surprised with this class, as I had a little old man by the name of Nick who was sort of difficult to understand at times (I think he was Greek or something), but Nick taught us the principles of economics using wonderful examples such as growing bananas. Believe it or not, even with my dislike of math, I considered switching my major or minor to economics about halfway through this class. I'm sort of glad that I didn't, but I understood a little more about how the markets operate, and I developed my own opinions about how I would prefer them to do so. Two words: comparative advantage. (Did I mention I drive a Toyota?)

GLY 110 & GLY 210L — General Geology & Earth Materials Lab
OK, OK, I know, I opted for geology instead of a science that might have been considered more scientific, but I will say that (A) I was a journalism major, duh, and (B) I was required to have more science credits, which I ended up fulfilling with biology courses. I didn't really learn anything new in geology class that I hadn't heard in high school sciences courses, and I had collected gemstones and such as a kid, so the lab portion of the course was really easy too. In fact, the lab involved two things — map reading and identifying stones. I had known how to read a military-style USGS map for years because of my JROTC experience in high school, and most of the rocks I had to identify were things my nerdy little self had sitting at home in an old drawer. These two classes earned me four hours of credit and not much more.

HST 230 — American History to 1877
Let me just say this now — I am not a racist. And as Dane Cook so eloquently puts it on his new album, just because I voted for Barack Obama and now have a black president, that does not qualify me to say anything I want about black people. Nor does the fact that I have several black friends. I'll say this — slavery is perhaps the darkest blemish in America's history, and all men and women are indeed to receive equal treatment for equal action. However, I think it is pretty safe to say that more happened in America before 1877 than just slavery. But not if you ask the professor I had for this class. I will say that the professor was a very thought-provoking guy, and he was one of the best lecturers at Marshall. He just ignored everything and anything else that ever happened in America, and we spent the entire semester reading about slaves, talking about slaves and watching films such as Amistad. I felt ripped off after this course because I didn't get a full historical overview, but I'm guessing obviously not as ripped off as the professor felt for his ancestors.

JMC 102 — Info Gathering Research
I think just the title of this class is really unique. What sort of research is not info gathering, and if it is indeed info gathering research, shouldn't it be info-gathering (hyphenated) research? While the title of this course is obscure, the actual educational value thereof was not. This course reviewed things such as using the library and online databases to gather information, as well as conducting good interviews and polls. I wrote what was probably my first real research paper in this class, which if I remember correctly, was about the unification of America after Sept. 11 and the subsequent division of it at the beginning of the Iraq War. This was a simple, but valuable, course.

MS 102 & MS 102L — Basic Leadership & Military Science Leadership Lab
Basically, these two courses were a repeat of the previous semester's military science classes, and they just continued to water down stuff from basic training for freshman college students whom they were trying to persuade to contract with the military. For those of us already under military contract, this was a total bore of a class.

PSC 104 — American National Government & Politics
Not only was this course required for my major, but also it was the first class I ever took in my minor. Yes, the fact that so many political science hours were required for my major was basically the deciding factor in taking the one extra course to make it a minor. However, I've always been very interested in politics, and I think having this minor helped me out a lot as I moved on to graduate school in a very political communication-focused program.

If there's one thing I really can take away from this semester, it's probably how life seems to have a sense of humor. Or maybe things just turn out sort of ironically from time to time. What I mean is, did anyone (including the professor) realize that the U.S. would be in an economic recession just five or so years after I was in an economics course? I don't seem to remember much discussion about it. And who would've thought that I would end up in a graduate school communication program where politics was the cornerstone of most of the research being done there? Having a political science minor really didn't influence my choice in where I went to graduate school, but it's neat how things turned out. This all just goes to show that we should never take anything we learn or do for granted, as it may come in handy just a few years down the road.

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