College of Charleston: surfing for college credit | Photo: College of Charleston

There are only two universities on the entire US East Coast that offer surfing for college credit. One of them is the College of Charleston.

The "Beginning Surfing" class teaches the science of surfing - how are waves formed, what is wind, the importance of tides, surfboard hydrodynamics, human kinesthetics, and everything that involves the ocean and the weather systems.

"The mission of the College is to pursue and share knowledge through study, inquiry and creation in order to empower the individual and enrich society. Our introduction to surfing course really does all of that," explains Tom Carroll, senior surf instructor at the College of Charleston.

In addition, he says, the course curriculum is also aligned with the College's core values, which include an emphasis on educational excellence, a student-focused community, and use of the history, traditions and environment of Charleston and the Lowcountry.

"This 'Beginning Surfing' course addresses all three of the College's core values, and it's especially effective at addressing the third one. Students in this class learn to be good stewards of the local environment and the surrounding community. We’re fortunate that the College is situated in such an ideal locale with regards to water and air temperature. By way of this class, students have a unique opportunity to understand and appreciate this special environment," adds Carroll.

Kai Dilling, alumnus and surf instructor at the College of Charleston, has been teaching surfing for nearly 25 years. He is the man working with the students on a daily basis. At the end of the course, they have to pass a final exam that is given both on paper and on the water.

"Surfing is a really great thing for any aged person. It helps develop confidence, they learn problem-solving, they learn the camaraderie that comes with surfing, living in the moment and the stoke that surfing brings," notes Dilling.

This course is one that students have been requesting for decades. In the last three months, 30 pupils have improved their skills or learned how to surf with Kai Dilling, who graduated in 1993.

The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) also offers a "Surf Engineering Analysis" course to their students on the East Coast.

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