Monday, January 23, 2012

Weird College Majors

"You have a degree in that??"

Author: Brooke Windsor

Most people associate college or university with the pursuit of certain standards of academics and the attainment of prestigious degrees that aid their owners in getting special jobs or careers that they will love for a lifetime and have pretty decent starting salaries in comparison to someone who just finishes high school or secondary school but goes no further. However, with the growth in random areas of expertise and incredible amounts of detailed specialization in already established subject matter, several institutions of higher education have had to spread the base curriculum in order to allow their students to compete in a world of new areas of study and unique fields of interest. Even though they may not openly promote or publish these very different majors of study in their colleges or universities, degrees are still there for the taking for people who look closely enough. Do you think that higher education is limited to normal things like English, physics, or psychology? Perhaps it’s time to think again and take a look into all the new and weird offerings of college and university institutions.

1. Comic Book Art
Everybody has a weakness for comics - whether they are in the form of complex graphic novels or simple doodles in the funny pages of the newspaper. However, a great deal of time and effort (from the artists and the writers) is put into these items that we may brush off as passing fancies. Just think of how many movies have been made recently that get their ideas, characters, and premises from the hidden shelves at your local comic book store. The Minneapolis College of Art and Design takes comic book art seriously enough to have it as a singular, special major even if not everyone going through the program is going to be the next Stan Lee in the realm of the graphic novel.

2. Bakery Science
Many culinary schools have a special focus in baked items with several classes that show students how to incorporate breads and sweets into unique menus which can be used to spice up a restaurant that wants a new taste. However, most of the people who work specifically in bakeries tend to be part of a family business where they are trained in running a bakery (and only a bakery) after years of apprenticeship on the job. Kansas State (and several other reputable colleges) have taken the traditional hands on approach to running a bakery a step farther to establish a fixed curriculum where students learn to operate a bakery and encourage their flare for baking in general without having to focus on other areas of the culinary arts.

3. Golf Course Management
Ever since Tiger Woods pulled golf into the main stream and showed that it wasn’t necessarily just a sport for over the hill white guys, the general public has started to develop a soft spot for it. What does that mean? It signifies that more people want to play golf and need more access to courses. To meet this need, several colleges throughout the U.S. (such as Queen’s University of Charlotte and the University of Central Florida) have developed undergraduate programs that focus on golf course management where the students learn how to build and design golf courses and then how to manage them and turn them into destination resorts of their own where visitors can relax in a specialty spa after taking in a few holes on the green.

4. Adventure Recreation
Adventure sports like scuba diving, snowboarding, white water rafting, and bungee jumping are big business. People are wanting controlled ways to break out of their normal nine-to-five office life and these sports on fun mini-breaks and vacations are the perfect release. Who is going to supply these cubicle monkeys with their fun though? If you have a passion for adventure sports and enough experience to train others, you might want to look in the undergraduate programs at Green Mountain College in Vermont that aim at helping people like you in establishing their own businesses in the area of adventure recreation where they can train newcomers to the sports and just show people a fun, exciting time that is a bit out of the norm.

5. Professional Nanny
Many programs exist where high school students and even people in their early twenties can get certified as babysitters. These classes are usually just the span of a few nights over a week or two where they learn the basics of establishing trust with the parents of children, fundamental child care, and of course first aid. What if you want to make a career of this former after school or summer job? The Sullivan University in Kentucky offers a curriculum aimed specifically at those who wish to be professional child care givers - whether in a private residence, day care center, pediatric wards of hospitals, or any other variety of corporate child care offerings.

6. Astrobiology
Aliens are a huge area of fascination in our modern society. Science fiction in books and movies is huge business, but some people are wanting to reach out further. What if E.T. really is out there? In the United Kingdom the University of Glamorgan acutally offers a degree in astrobiology - the study of finding life and biological organisms beyond the planet Earth in the multitude of solar systems that exist out there. These students learn the complexities of life in addition to searching techniques to be used when investigating outer space. If you want to be a real, legitimate alien hunter, getting a degree in astrobiology is certainly a good start.

7. Retail Floristry
Even though the majority of jobs at your local flower shop does not require much education past that of high school or its equivalency, having a college degree in retail floristry can certainly come in handy if you are wanting to start your own shop. Rather than running the cash register or cleaning out the expired merchandise, students are trained the art of floral design showcases, special event gardening, and the business behind the flower petals. You can find this program at Mississippi State University, and most students get salaried positions right after graduation if they don’t go through the laborious and long process of starting their own floral business upon program completion.

8. Master Ranching
While the word “ranch” can simply conjure ideas of rough and tumble cowboys or just a creamy white salad dressing, ranch management has become a huge business. Developments in biological engineering, livestock management, and goods transportation have turned this generation to generation training into something that could certainly use the help or extensive training provided by a degree in the specialized sciences or even an MBA if one wants to break into the business or move up the professional ladder within it. Texas AM University in Kingsville actually offers a master’s degree program in ranch management. Several other colleges in places with a firm foot hold in ranching or multiple ranches in the nearby area have started to offer this special curriculum, but Texas AM is currently the only place offering a graduate program. Do not think that just because these people trudge around campus in worn out jeans and work boots means they are taking a vow of poverty in their profession either. Graduates of the master’s degree program can expect a salary of $50,000 to $75,000 annually.

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