15 Cal Poly classes you should take before you graduate

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The age-old and often dreaded end-of-day question of our childhood asks, “What did you learn in school today?” But what if we expand that question to “What did you learn during your time at college?”  Reflect on the skills you gained and topics you discussed. Then, fast forward 10 years from now and consider what you will still remember.

While your classes may have made you a desirable candidate for your dream job, did they also make you a well-rounded, interesting and thought-provoking person? Here is a list of classes that will not only spark late night conversations, but also make you an intriguing cocktail guest and provide a lifetime of skills you never thought you needed.

1.AG 243 Theory and Practice of Rodeo – 2 units, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Credit/No Credit grading

AG 243 is the perfect example of Learn by Doing. Not one class is spent in the classroom. This two-unit course is focused on providing an introduction to the history and evolution of rodeo. Impress your friends with knowing how to saddle bronc, bareback and bull ride. Get your hands dirty goat tying and barrel racing!

Learn more here.

2. PSY/CD 254 Family Psychology – 4 units, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP
Prerequisite: PSY 201 or PSY 202 – Potential to email for permission number

Family Psychology will make you question who you are, why you believe what you believe and ultimately the person you want to become. With an emphasis on family roles, love, mate selection, marital quality, parenting, gender, household work, divorce and managing relationships, this class will revolutionize the way you view the world. Learn to appreciate and not fear aging by interviewing an elder. Take a breath of fresh air and connect with those around you with the Technology Fast. Learn how each member in your family has shaped who you are today, good or bad, by creating a family genogram.

Recommended professor: Elizabeth Barrett

3. BIO 123 Biology of Sex – 4 units, GE Area B2, Term Typically Offered: W
As the great American band Salt-N-Pepa once said, “Let’s talk about sex baby!” Learn about why a human male’s penis size is so much larger than that of other mammals. Read a book by a woman who questions the social constructs around sexuality and takes the next step in attempting to debunk sexual myths. This class shatters sexual education as a taboo and breaks down the reality and truths of our human nature.

Recommended Professor: Emily Taylor

4. WGS 201 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies in the United States – 4 units, GE Area D1; USCP, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Much of what we hear about the plight of the American women is false. This course introduces how all genders and sexualities are shaped throughout history and institutional formation. With a discussion-based approach, learn about the patriarchy, intersectionality, waves of the feminist movements and eventually debunk the feminism myths and stereotypes.

Recommended Professor: Gail Linsenbard

5. RELS 344 Approaches to Religion – 4 units GE Area D5, Term Typically Offered: TBD
Prerequisite: Junior standing; completion of GE Area A with a grade of C- or better; and GE Area D3 or D4

Many of the most discussed and pertinent questions about today’s world revolve around religion: How can religion simultaneously motivate an immense amount of hate and violence but also inspire genuine love and healing? Does religion cause more harm than good? Are all religions the same, or is it possible that one is so different that it should not be called a religion? Are religions the ‘opiate of the masses’ or reflections of eternal truths? What is the relationship between religion and politics? And perhaps most importantly, how do you choose a religion? This course strives to answer all these questions and provide students with a more nuanced and robust understanding of the myriad roles that religion plays.

Recommended Professor: Stephen Lloyd-Moffett

6. BIO 114 Plant Diversity and Ecology – 4 units GE Area B2; GE Area B4, Term Typically Offered: W, SP

Imagine hiking with your friends and being able to identify every plant along the way. This class fulfills two GE requirements and involves a weekly hike! Whether it be you local Poly Canyon backyard or driving out to the private Los Osos Dunes, every week you will take your notebook and have an opportunity to sketch, touch, learn about and even eat all different types of plants. Simultaneously explore San Luis Obispo’s hidden gems while learning about natural splendors.

Recommended Professor: Matt Ritter or James Kelley

7. FSN 121 Fundamentals of Food – 4 units, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP

Ever want to branch out from frozen meals or wonder what real pad thai taste like when its not from Trader Joes? This class will not only teach you how to make homemade meals, but also how to make them nutritionally beneficial. Learn to make your own  noodles, bread and gluten-free or vegan options. Let’s be real, we are all broke college students, so why not enjoy a free meal with your tuition?

Recommended Professor: Arlene Grant-Holcomb

8. PSY/CD 304. Intergroup Dialogues – 4 units- GE, Area D5, Term Typically Offered: SP

Ever wonder how two people can reach agreement when they have differing viewpoints? This class facilities weekly meetings between students from two distinct, self-defined identity groups, with trained peer facilitators, readings, experiential activities, informed dialogue and reflective writing. Students will learn to integrate as a means of encouraging self and group awareness and exploring ways to promote a community across differences. Undoubtedly learn to accept individual biases and accept differences.

Recommended professor: Laura Freberg

9. ANT 107 Magic, Witchcraft and Religion – 4 units, Foothill online, Fulfills Cal Poly C1, C2 or C5

Why is there a universal belief across all religions of the supernatural? This course is a cross-cultural study of beliefs, practices and issues related to varied forms of the supernatural. Example topics include: reality of magic, impact of witchcraft, exorcism and forms of ritual and symbolism.

Recommended Professor: Dependent on who is offered

10. BUS 489 Negotiation – 4 units, Term Typically Offered: F, W
Prerequisite: BUS 387

If you have ever regretted not saying something after an argument or avoided an issue because you didn’t want to have an awkward conversation, then this course will challenge you to overcome these difficult situations. “Negotiation takes place all of the time, both formally and informally, at work and at home, and over a wide range of both monetary and non-monetary issues. Negotiating well is a learned skill that most people have to study and practice. This course is designed to help you develop negotiation skills and to analyze negotiation scenarios using theoretical frameworks.” Through negotiations like equity splits, job offer salaries and even determining the terms of a vacation with friends, this class teaches skills useful in any profession.

Recommended Professor: Taryn Stanko

11. Athletic classes:


  • Bowling – KINE 109 (1 unit, CR/NC, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP)
  • Volleyball – KINE 214 (1 unit, CR/NC, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP)
  • Golf – KINE 208  (1 unit, Term Typically Offered: TBD)

The gym is getting old and you miss having an end goal to working out. Imagine an IM but getting free elective credits! Cal Poly provides a wide variety of athletic courses. Easy credits, easy As and a way to show off your high school skills, build upon the skills that you never knew existed or even just to bond with a friend you don’t get to see often.

Suggested Professors: Dependent on chosen course

12. AEPS 215 – Floral Design I – 3 units, Term Typically Offered: F, W

Have you ever considered the thought and precision floristry requires? Through taking this class, you’ll make a weekly present for your roommates—whether a wreath, table decor or a bouquet to spruce up your living room. This class is a fun necessity that may even come in handy to impress your significant other!

13. AEPS 175. Beekeeping – 3 units, Term Typically Offered: F, SP

A call to all budding – or should we say buzzing – young naturalists! This course studies and provides exercises in the handling of European honey bees with special reference to pollination of commercial crops. Get hands-on experience through honey processing and marketing! You’ll learn about jive inspection and disease detection. Who knows, maybe you will even prevent bees from extinction. That is, if you don’t mind sacrificing a sting or two!

14. RELS/POLS 380: Religion and Politics of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict – 4 units Term Typically Offered: TBD

Two opposite ends of the spectrum: one professor demonstrating a political frame and the other a religious frame. Is there a way to find a balance? Professor Anika Leithner and Lloyd Moffett co-teach this class, working coercively to create a foundation for an academic debate of Israeli-Palestinian issues and keeping an open mind. This course focuses specifically on the unique way that religion and politics must interplay in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the end of the quarter, students are provided a hands-on learning experience to view critical issues from opposing views. Later, students engage in a mock Senate Hearing and debate their views to find a plausible solution to the conflict. In doing so, you are able to explore the proponents of religion and politics on both the Jewish and the Palestinian sides.

Prerequisite: Completion of GE Area A with a grade of C- or better.

Recommended Professor: Anika Leithner and Stephen Lloyd Moffett

15. GRC 377 – Web and Print Publishing – 4 units, GE Area F, Term Typically Offered: F, W, SP
If you do not consider yourself knowledgeable about Adobe programs but always wanted to learn, this course will be an interesting and helpful addition to your course load. Design a brand by making a logo, brochure and website. Dip your toes into the world of Adobe with softwares such as InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and DreamWeaver.

Prerequisite: Junior standing and completion of Area B.

College is not just a resume builder, it is a time of self discovery and risk. Take a leap of faith and dive into the unknown. Maybe then you will have a more exciting and compelling answer to tell your mom when she asks what you learned in school. Plus, taking these courses might blossom into conversations and interests that will last beyond your four years at Cal Poly.

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