As the first week of classes draws to a close, and the workload inevitably starts piling up, students will begin the search for something to take their mind off calculus, physics and chemistry. Some will turn to partying, other to joining clubs and others still to staring mindlessly at the television for hours.
“One of the things [the Student Center does with the options program] is really try to complement Tech’s academic mission…Tech can have such an intense academic atmosphere that a lot of times students don’t take the time to pick up a hobby or learn something fun, but options classes provide you [that] opportunity,“ said Tasha Myers, Associate Program Director of the Student Center Programs Council (SCPC).
The class selection reflects this sentiment. Many perennial options classes focus around potential hobbies like art (with watercolors, drawing and pottery throwing), dance (from salsa, to swing and even the Lindy Hop), music (like violin, piano and guitar) and photography.
Another topic with several available options is learning a foreign language. According to Myers, the language options classes are less focused on the in-depth details of learning a language than the Institute classes but are popular among students trying to get a crash course.
“The class[es] are more for introductory level material. It’s more about learning it for leisure, but some people take advantage of it when they know they’re studying abroad, and they’re really just trying to pick up some of the basics, rather than an in-depth study,” Myers said.
This semester, students looking to learn a language can choose from French, Hebrew and two levels of Italian.
Not all classes are about hobbies and personal studies, however; a few classes are dedicated to developing useful skills for after graduation. Public speaking classes are fairly common, and this semester, a class on how to buy your first home is being offered.
“There’s something for everybody,” Myers said.
Aside from the subject matter, another thing that differentiates options classes from for-credit classes is the atmosphere. Rather than being taught solely by the faculty, options classes are typically taught by someone from the community, a campus organization or even by a student.
According to Myers, organizations like the GT Sailing Club and Tech Styles often work with SCPC on options classes, and many use them as fundraisers.
Sometimes classes are even taught by individual students, like one typically held in the spring where a student teaches how to use Excel.
Myers said that potential instructors interested in teaching a class need to fill out a proposal on the SCPC’s website.
“[We ask] what’s the purpose of the class, what they expect students to get out of it and what their qualifications are, and then we take all those applications and decide, ‘Is this something Tech students would find interesting?’” Myers said.
Time requirements for the options classes vary from topic to topic, and depend greatly on the amount of time students are willing to invest. The classes typically last one to one and a half hours per week, but students studying music or art can spend a great deal more time practicing if they so choose.
Students interested in the classes can find more information—as well as a complete list of class offerings—is available at the options website. Registration is open until Sept. 12, though students can sign up through the 18th by paying a late fee of $10. The prices vary, but all of them are designed to be affordable for college students.