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US Colleges Offer Unusual Classes

College students who are struggling through anthropology or biochemistry classes like to poke fun at the easy courses that are sometimes offered to athletes on campus. The jocks, as they're called, take all sorts of physical education classes — as if they weren't already in shape. In some places, football strategy is a course offering.

These are "easy-A" subjects, meaning it's a snap to get the top grade. Sometimes they're called "Mickey Mouse" courses because a child could pass them.

The classic is "underwater basket weaving," which most people think is a silly joke — a spoof of the genre of easy-to-pass courses. But underwater basket weaving really is a skill, and there are classes in it at three or four U.S. colleges.

And nowadays, athletes can point elsewhere on campus and say, "Look, we're not the only ones." At Green Mountain College in Vermont, students can major — meaning take a large number of their courses — in whitewater rafting. Saint Lawrence University in New York has a course in Neanderthals, as in prehistoric cavemen. Equestrian, or horse, science is an entire curriculum at Texas Christian University. You can get a degree in dance education at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.

And Middle Tennessee State University has a solid program called "concrete management" — concrete, as in the hard stuff you mix from cement, stones, and water.

Each of these schools can make an erudite case for the merits of such coursework. Construction companies need smart managers who can cure concrete, after all.

For sure, higher education has become a lot more pragmatic since the days when students squeaked through Latin. Why, before long, somebody will be offering a course in how to play computer video games!

Wait — we found one! — at Palomar College in California.