Geology equals "Wild card"

Kim Kastens
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published Sep 12, 2009
The Wall Street Journal has been running a column co-written by their San Francisco bureau chief (Steve Yoder) and his college age son (Isaac Yoder.) The weekly column has chronicled Isaac's college application process and now is following his adjustment to college, at an unnamed liberal arts college on the east coast. Recently the father/son pair wrote about choosing courses and a major. The son wrote:
So I think my best bet now is to sign up for some wild cards–classes that aren't in a field I would automatically consider, but sound intriguing. I'm not going to worry about a post-college career quite yet. I still have a full four years to worry about what major will show up on my job resume.

In the meantime, I'll be captivated this fall in my class about the geology of coral reefs.

In line with my earlier post advocating that economists and business reporters should have more exposure to geosciences, I'm glad that this prominent journalist's son is taking a geology course this fall. But how should I view the description of geology as a "wild card"?

Geology equals "Wild card" --Discussion  

A reader told me that "wild card" is an official term used in some liberal arts colleges for an interesting course that is outside the normal curriculum, or outside a student's main area of study. I googled the term and came up with a description on the American University website ( "fresh, topical classes reflective of a faculty-member's current scholarly interests," that count towards the university's general education requirements. I wasn't familiar with the term before, and I wonder how many Wall Street Journal readers were. In any case, I like the concept of wild card courses, whatever they're called. In my own college education, wild cards included "History of the Woven Textile" and "PreColumbian Art."


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