There are a number of factors that go into making your final decision as to which college you attend. Financial aid is a huge one these days. However, once that has been considered it is key to look at what classes the school offers, especially ones that are helpful to your major. However, even the most staunch academic advisor will suggest taking at least one or two “fun” courses to prevent burn out. After all, while you may be there to get a degree so you can get a good job, there is no reason you can’t have some fun along the way.
The courses offered were big factors in my decision making process when it came to choosing colleges. At that point I was torn between Bethel University and University of Northwestern-St. Paul (formerly Bethel College and Seminary and Northwestern College). Both schools were small, private four year schools in Minnesota. I had been accepted into both, and it was a hard choice as I had wanted to go to either school since I was in fifth grade. But as they say in The Highlander, “there can be only one”.
Back then, I intended to become a high school English teacher, so a good education department and a strong literature program was key. Not only did Bethel have an accredited Education Department, but the English Curriculum had courses that impressed an uncle of mine as I was studying topics he didn’t cover until graduate school. There were classes on Milton, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Arthurian Legends and world literature.
However one class out of all of them, had caught my eye. The class was called “Modern Mythmakers In Film and Fiction”.
The course description read:
“Consideration for how writers and filmmakers appropriate mythic structures and archetypes to create meaningful narratives of the human experience. Mythmakers may include J.R.R. Tolkien, George Lucas, Madeline L’Engle, Steven Spielberg, C.S. Lewis and others.”
My eyes bugged out of my head and I gasped when I read that description. Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Spielberg, and Lucas were some of my all time favorite writers and filmmakers. This school had a class where I could read and discuss the fantasy and science fiction books and movies I like without being made fun of? I was sold.
After looking into a few more programs at Bethel, I determined that it would be the right fit for me. And in the immortal words of the old Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade….
While I couldn’t take that class my first year ( it was a level 300 course) I had managed to get plugged into another course taught by that same professor, this one on American Autobiographies. There was something fitting about that placement, especially when one of the first books read in that class was Thoreau’s Walden. It just fits perfectly with fall, and serves as an excellent introduction to college life, especially since it talks about the importance of not only living but living deliberately.
Little did I know that I would hit it off very well with the professor, largely because I had his class at 7:45 in the morning when most of the rest of the class was still asleep. It’s very easy to build a good rapport with a professor when you’re one of the only ones awake and alert for class discussion. So much so that one time he joked that he and I should go get some coffee and continue our chat while the rest of the class napped.
I would get to take his Modern Mythmakers class the following year, and as it turns out it is actually the most popular English class offered at Bethel. There is even a waiting list for it, and thankfully I got in first. There were even times I did such a good job in class discussions that my professor would invited me up to the front of the class, saying, “ You want to teach this class for me? You’re doing a great job!”
I would end up taking every single class he offered; in no small part due to the fact most of them were required for graduation. Even if they weren’t I still would have taken them. My professor went on to be a trusted friend, mentor and spiritual counselor. He would even help me fine tune my skills as a writer and was even the one urged me to start blogging.
And by the way, after graduation I would finally take him up on that offer to help teach the class with him, not once but five times on the topic of comic book superheroes. In fact I’ll be going back tomorrow, and next month I’ll be facilitating one on Star Wars for the first time. It’s been some of the best work I’ve done. And it never would have happened had I not noticed that course offered in the catalogue.