Eight Extraordinary Courses Every Champlain College Student Should Take Regardless of Their Major

Champlain College Classroom

It's easy to go by the "My Ed Plan" in WebAdvisor and take all the classes required for your major in order semester after semester. It makes it easier for your advisors, and you know that there won't be any slip-ups in course requirements leading up to graduation.

However, college is all about discovering what you are passionate about and exploring new ideas. Looking back, semesters slip away so quickly; before you know it students realize that they never got to do a lot of things they may have intended to in their time at college.

Each semester, instead of being bogged down with required courses, utilize some elective requirements to take something of interest. During my sophomore year, along with my schedule of business courses, I took introduction to drawing with Geebo Church and Media & Society with Rob Williams. Both courses changed my perspective on what college courses should be, and my preferred methods of being taught.

Give yourself a chance to widen your lens and check out course offerings in other programs. There are two things you should look for in an elective: applied studies and entertainment. You want to make sure you'll use what you learn, and hopefully the class will allow you to apply the material to your life immediately in class projects or everyday life. Valuable life skill classes will provide you with skills for the workplace and improve your employability. They could include public speaking, accounting and finance, law, and many other disciplines. General electives also give you a chance to explore things you may enjoy: arts, sciences, history, or foreign language. These studies related to your interests give you a unique competitive edge.

Here are some courses, recommended as electives by Champlain College seniors, in which you should consider registering for this week:

Art course1. Drawing, Introductory (ART-110)

The lowdown:  This introduction to drawing course is offered every semester to students in all divisions. Geebo Church makes it the most entertaining course offered at Champlain by integrating unique stories and trying his best to remember your name. This studio course emphasizes a creative discovery of two-dimensional forms using pencil, pen and ink, watercolors, charcoal, and more. Students will consider the nature and importance of light, values and graphic composition in selectively seeing and recording a visual world.

Says who?:  Senior social work major Hannah Andersen assured, "Geebo's class is awesome! He is a truly unique individual that teaches with an exciting flare. He helps you develop your skills in a short time."

When I took Geebo's class as an elective my freshman year, he explained that drawing perfect lines takes a few tries, and usually the third time's a charm - he demonstrated this by throwing chalk board erasers across the room into a garbage can, where naturally, he sank it on the third try. "See! Third time's a charm!" he yelled. Three years later, he still says hi and asks about my art and my campus job each time we pass on campus; even though he calls me "Kaylie" instead of Kayla half the time, I really appreciate his enthusiasm and kindness.

CCPI2. Publishing in the 21st Century (WRT-346)

The lowdown:  Professors Tim Brookes and Kimberly MacQueen each teach a section of this course each semester to bring together students from all majors to learn about and apply skills to the publishing industry. This internship-style course is ideal for professional writing, marketing, graphic design, public relations, sonic arts, broadcasting, communications, and filmmaking majors, just to name a few. The course takes advantage of the Champlain College Publishing Initiative and gives groups a hands-on working experience in all aspects of publication: writing, editing, copy-editing, research, illustration, layout/design, cover art, promotion, publicity, event management, marketing, web design and usage, sound recording, business and legal issues, and more. Contemporary developments in publication are also studied and discussed, and when possible incorporated into publishing strategies.

Says who?:  "I look at the class almost as another internship," said junior professional writing major Shea Leading. "It's great being able to work with clients and build a project from the ground up. The midterm and final are allowing me to explore uncharted territory in the world of publishing, which is perfect because that's where I want to end up after graduation." Read students' final papers from past semesters at the course website: http://www.cp21c.com/?page_id=1477.

3. Public Speaking (COM-110)

The lowdown:  For many people, the idea of speaking in front of people is terrifying, but no matter what career field you are going into, the ability to clearly and effectively communicate ideas to your bosses and colleagues is essential. Public Speaking students will learn to prepare and deliver informative and persuasive speeches, with an emphasis on researching topics, determining purposes and goals, and organizing content. They will also learn to construct well-reasoned persuasive arguments, and how to improve aspects of delivery such as controlling nervousness and developing use of vocal variety. This course will most certainly boost your value in the workplace.

Says who?:  "I'm a pretty introverted guy and I felt that it would be good for me to get used to speaking publicly," explained senior game design major Scott Ethington. "The class is fairly easy-going and not intimidating. We had a mock elevator pitch assignment, where my friend Brian pitched an idea for a ‘Teleporting Cake-caddy' that would safely teleport your cake to where it needed to go, and he got an A on that. The speeches can get ridiculous, but they're all helpful."

Students in class4. Business Law I (BLW-140)

The lowdown:  Business Law provides an overview of the entire legal system, with an emphasis on contract rights. The essential elements of a contract, the breach of contracts and the remedies for breach are discussed. Not only is Business Law I with Professor James Fry engaging and chock full of story-telling, but it teaches valuable personal and business legal matters you may come in contact with in your future. This class, covering business and consumer laws, including white-collar crime, landlord-tenant rights, real property interests and administrative law, has made a number of students consider pursuing law school after graduation.

Says who?:  "One of the best parts of Champlain is its attention to real world situations. Some of my most valuable classes have been Business Law and Legal Issues in Communication," noted senior marketing major Adam Rowe. "Taught by two of the most fascinating lawyers, they introduce real life problems and provide great information for small legal issues one may encounter throughout life. The classes would not be the same without James Fry or Cindy Hill and it is their life experiences and stories that contribute to their success as professors and legal mentors."

Onward!:  If you are interested in law or have ever considered doing freelance or contract work (in graphic design, film, or other forms of art or publication), MCM-360 Legal Issues in Communication with Cindy Hill is another important course you should opt to take as an elective.

5. Financial Accounting (ACC-130)

The lowdown:  Accounting is the language of business. This course introduces students to accounting from a point of view of the user of financial reports and is appropriate (and important!) for personal as well as business applications. Students explore the impact of transactions on the financial position and profitability of a business, and analyze financial reports of real-world corporations. The only downfall, the book costs a lot, but the pros of taking this course outweigh that con.

Says who?:  "Professor Thane Butt truly cares about her students and wants us to succeed," said senior marketing major Chloe Cartularo. "I knew going into the class in the fall of my senior year that I was going to have difficulties, but Thane made sure to answer all of my questions in every way possible for me to understand it clearly. She gave me confidence by telling me I knew more than I give myself credit for. She made herself available to me as much as she could, even at 11:30 at night, as I called her crying and freaking out about an assignment. She calmed me down and walked me through the assignment with care and love. I truly learned so much about accounting, which has helped me in my life in general in terms of planning expenses. Thane is such a wonderful teacher that I am so lucky to have had, and one that I hope to keep in touch with after school. I could go on and on about how helpful she was to me and how lucky students are to have her."

Onward!:  Once you complete this as a prerequisite, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take MGT-300 Investments Finance with Professor Pat Patel to learn how to wisely invest your money during college and in the future, and establish a hypothetical investment portfolio. For more finance courses, visit http://www.champlain.edu/academics/undergraduate-academics/majors-and-minors/finance-minor

Cuba6. Any course with a travel component.

The lowdown:  Although not offered every semester, travel courses are usually integrated into the third year of Core. If your education plan doesn't permit an entire semester spent abroad, a 10-day cultural immersion trip is a great alternative. Some courses are just that—a quick dip into a nation's or region's culture—while others are human rights courses focused on the indigenous peoples of a nation. In recent years, adjunct Rob Williams has taken four classes to China, and when the third-year core curriculum changed to Middle Eastern studies, one class traveled to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. These courses are called "[Insert country here] MOJO" for MObile JOurnalism. Students choose their own topic to study and reflect on upon returning to Burlington post-trip. Students have also traveled with Core Professor Miriam Horne to Nicaragua and Cuba as a component of her COR-320 Human Rights courses.

Says who?:  "As a senior who did not study abroad, I wanted to travel somewhere...anywhere," admitted accounting major Linda Jean Mallo, who took advantage of Miriam Horne's COR-320 Human Rights course with the travel component to Cuba. "This class was just the ticket because I was only going to be away for a week and I could experience a new culture. Cuba was one of the best times of my life. I will never forget the memories I made and the culture that I experienced. COR-320 has been my favorite class as a senior because it has changed how I view myself and my future goals in life."

7. WRT-110 Literary Magazine I

The lowdown:  Jim Ellefson, professional writing professor and garlic gardener, instructs this one-credit course each semester. The class meets only once a week, and comes together with Lit Mag II on Thursday evenings. Lit Mag provides a setting where students can experience the practical elements of assembling a magazine devoted to publishing poetry, fiction, creative essays, plays, photography, and visual art. Students love this course so much that many take it twice during their time at Champlain.

Says who?:  "Lit mag is less of a formal class setting and more of a passionate literary discussion," explained senior communications major Andrea Drag. "We read submissions aloud and craft our opinions, verbalizing if we believe a piece should be considered for the magazine and pitching for our favorites. Sometimes the conversations get heated—editors have proclaimed their love for a submission so fiercely that they express a wish to get it tattooed on something—giving some insight into how enthusiastic our members are. But don't let that intimidate you! Everyone is welcome to join lit mag and the atmosphere is very respectful of differencing opinions. What's interesting is that only a handful of members are actually enrolled to get credit for the class; the rest are there because they like being involved, reading submissions, voicing their opinions, and adding the experience to their resumes. I advise anyone interested in taking the class to stop by and sit in on a meeting on Thursday nights this semester—we'd be happy to have you!"

Lochlan's photo8. ART-115 Introduction to Photography

The lowdown:  How cool is it to get behind a camera and actually know what to do when you take it off automatic settings—am I right? In this Intro to Photography class, students will learn the components of the 35mm camera; the interrelationship of ASA, aperture, and shutter speed; and film types and their applications. Elements of composition, light and aesthetic values are covered. The darkroom and printing process are included in the course format. With all the construction on campus this spring, they even furnished a new darkroom, as the old one in Hauke will not be accessible next fall semester. Practical and professional applications of photography are examined. The only thing that may hold you back - you must provide your own 35mm SLR camera. Although, it is a good investment.

Says who?:  "With only a limited understanding of film photography, I dove into the photography class thinking it would be a breeze," admitted senior marketing major Lochlan Dougherty. "Little did I know, there is a seemingly limitless amount of information to take in, and I soon found the class to be tougher than I first expected, yet extremely rewarding. In a matter of weeks I found myself putting together well composed shots that I never would have imagined possible. Be wary this class will require some serious personal insight and extra cash for supplies, but the experience is well worth the expense. Initially I underestimated the time and dedication film photography required. The skills, knowledge, and competence that Intro to Photography has taught me have given me the confidence to get out and snap the perfect shot." Check out Lochlan's photography at http://lochlandougherty.wordpress.com/photography/.


Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2014 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.