Welcome to Back to School Week


Even though it feels like summer just arrived, back-to-school season has officially begun. Between seeing all the school supplies everywhere I go, spotting Etsy’s first back-to-school inspired Etsy Finds, and all the Undeclared my husband and I have been watching lately, I feel inspired to dedicate a week to the topic of school.

I’m heading into my second year at PSU at the end of September, but this isn’t my first stint in college. Between 2003 and 2006, I went to community college and earned my Associates of Art degree.

Back then, I was budding writer studying journalism, with dreams of writing for a newspaper. Before I get too ahead of myself and my tale of how I went from being a writer to a designer, I want to talk about my first year or so in college, where I spent a lot of time taking general education courses.

Sometimes those required core classes and random electives can surprise you, you know? When I think back on my earliest college days, these classes stand out as my favorites:

Basic Camera. This class was an art elective that was meant to help students learn to use their cameras and take better photos. It was the catalyst that made me start using a “real” camera (instead of just a point-and-shoot), and made me fall in love with using an old Pentax Pro Spec that my parents gave me.

It was also in this class that I learned the #1 rule of taking better photos—pay attention to what’s in the background! It’s just as important as the subject of your photo, and needs to be considered a part of the overall composition.

The Novel. It was the professor who taught this english elective class that made it one of the most memorable courses from junior college. The instructor was this brassy old man who loved to curse and tell amazing stories from his life. He had us read and discuss Ella Price’s Journal, which I devoured and loved. And he told me and this other shy girl in my class, “You two need to speak up more and voice your opinions, because when you do talk in class, you have really smart things to say.” I remember leaving all of those classes feeling really inspired.

Freshwater Fish of the PNW. I never thought a science requirement could be so fun until I took this class. I got to dissect fish, learn about native fish species to the area, and visit the fish hatchery where I saw how big, freaky, and awesome sturgeon really are. I also got to see a group of salmon spawning in a little steam along the Columbia River Gorge, which was an oddly moving experience I’m grateful to have as one of my favorite memories from community college.

What were some of your favorite college classes, and what made them so memorable?


4 Responses to Welcome to Back to School Week

  1. Stephanie says:

    I can’t say that I made it to any of the interesting classes when I was in college…though Design was pretty fun. I do love the classes that I am taking now for the naturalist course and leave feeling ready to teach everyone what I learned (ask my husband) and make our world better for all living creatures. I just had a course on Saturday on Habitat Improvement. Half was on planting native species for the creatures of the forest and the other half was on bees. I always learn so many little things that I never knew. The class you took on Freshwater Fish of the PNW sounds amazing!

  2. Cory says:

    I know my favorite Clark College course was Creative Writing (sounds like the same teacher you had for The Novel.) It really caused me to take a much closer look at my writing from a different perspective. While it made me realize most of my writing was indeed crap, the ideas that were behind them were not, and the class taught me how to expand upon what works and to take a chainsaw to what doesn’t. Difficult, yes, but I feel like I learned so much from it back in (gulp!) 1996.

    • flappergirlcreations says:

      I liked my Creative Writing class at Clark, too. My teacher was a woman named Gail. I can’t remember her last name. I think my favorite part was our writing exercises we did using prompts. Most of what I wrote in there was crap, but I did get one really great personal essay out of that class.

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