Continue Your Education With One of These Fascinating College Courses at Pennsylvania Schools

Continue Your Education With One of These Fascinating College Courses at Pennsylvania Schools

Photo courtesy of Anirvan

By Kalena Thomhave

August 15, 2023

Audit courses at Pennsylvania colleges offer community members a chance to learn about ice cream, Sherlock Holmes, the connection between hip hop artists and philosophers, and more.

Pennsylvania is dotted with higher education institutions, and many of these colleges and universities allow community members to audit courses so that you can continue your education even when not formally enrolled at the school. While some colleges and universities might charge high tuition fees even for auditors, others may charge as little as $50 per course.

We’re highlighting six interesting classes offered at Pennsylvania schools that you can take as audit courses. Check a nearby college’s list of available courses to find classes that look right for you. By going “back” to school, you just might learn something new and interesting.

Ice Cream 101: Introduction to Frozen Desserts – Pennsylvania State University (State College)

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a hankering for some cold treats, you might be interested in Ice Cream 101: Introduction to Frozen Desserts, a short, three-day course offered within Penn State’s Department of Food Science. Inspired by the department’s popular Ice Cream Short Course for ice cream professionals, this class is a shorter version intended for anyone interested in ice cream—whether you enjoy making your own ice cream or you just enjoy eating it. Lectures and hands-on activities will focus on ensuring ice cream quality in small-scale processing.

Registration is still open for the 2024 installment of Ice Cream 101, which runs from Jan. 26-28.

Are We Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe – Point Park University (Pittsburgh)

Point Park University, located in downtown Pittsburgh, allows members of the community to audit most courses for just $50. To audit a class, you just need to show up and participate in discussion; you don’t need to complete coursework or take tests. To start auditing a course at Point Park, you must first enroll in the university as a part-time, non-degree student and then get permission from the class instructor to audit a course. If the instructor agrees and there are seats available in your chosen course, you’re likely in.

And if you were following the recent congressional hearing on UFOs, perhaps you’d be interested in this natural science course: Are We Alone? The Search for Life in the Universe. This class will draw from different fields including astronomy, biology, and chemistry to explore whether life exists outside of our planet. According to the course description: “Ultimately, students will make their own evidence-based conclusions about whether life exists elsewhere in the cosmos, where we might find it, and what it might mean if we don’t.”

Introduction to American Cinema – Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Johnstown)

Watching movies while in school—who wouldn’t be interested? Pennsylvania Highlands Community College’s Introduction to American Cinema is an introductory film course that examines the history, trends, and significance of cinema in the United States. Students learn about US films and their meanings through group discussion and by viewing the movies.

At Penn Highlands, the current price to audit a course is $50 per credit (most courses, including the film course, are three credits).

Interested community members near Penn Highlands will need to enroll in the community college and then complete a form requesting permission to audit. If there is space in the course and the instructor approves your participation, it is likely that you can take the class.

Investigating Sherlock Holmes – Bucknell University (Lewisburg)

Bucknell University is home to a program known as the Bucknell Lifelong Learning Institute (BILL), which offers course opportunities for adults who don’t want to stop learning just because they’re out of school. Many universities across the state offer similar programs, but usually they’re reserved for seniors. BILL, while geared toward seniors, has no such requirement. You can currently become a member to participate in BILL courses for $65 a year, though sometimes prospective members can try out a membership as part of a free trial. Individual course tuition is $60.

One course that’s being offered in fall 2023 is Investigating Sherlock Holmes, which will look at Arthur Conan Doyle’s character both within the original stories as well as the different ways that Holmes has been reimagined. There are even planned “field trips” to view recreations of the famous Holmes sitting room of 221B Baker Street.

Hip Hop Music, Spoken Word, and Philosophy – Moravian University (Bethlehem)

You can audit a course at Moravian University for just $100 per class. Only approved courses can be audited, and you cannot audit certain courses like music lessons, science labs, or writing classes, but many other course options are possible.

So if you’ve ever wondered how Nas may have been influenced by Neitzche, you can find out in Moravian’s “Hip Hop Music, Spoken Word, and Philosophy,” an introductory philosophy course that pairs discussion of hip hop and spoken word poetry with an exploration of classic philosophical ideas. You can check out other courses at Moravian to see what else you might like to audit.

Pirates, Travelers, and Natural Historians: 1492-1750 – Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr)

Bryn Mawr College, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, allows eligible community members to audit many different fascinating courses for approximately half the cost of a course taken for credit (which is, admittedly, still pretty pricey). In order to audit a class as a continuing education student, individuals must apply (the application has its own $50 application fee), ensure they’ve completed any prerequisite courses, and get permission from the course instructor.

If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge of early colonial history, Pirates, Travelers, and Natural Historians: 1492-1750 is a history course that looks at the writings of pirates and other travelers to explore the colonization of the Americas. These “natural historians” were not typically considered when official records were constructed, meaning that the class is likely to challenge your existing knowledge of how the New World originated.


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