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How Does Auditing a Course Work?

by Kori Morgan, studioD

Auditing is a practice that lets you sit in on college classes without earning a grade or credit. Rather than working toward the completion of a degree, people audit courses for personal enrichment, curiosity and gaining knowledge about certain topics. While auditing a college class can teach you a lot about a hobby or special area of interest, you'll be expected to complete a specific registration process and follow rules regarding your level of participation.

Seal of Approval

Auditing a class doesn't mean you can just show up on the first day of class and expect everyone to be OK with it. Before registering, talk to the professor teaching the course and explain your reasons for wanting to observe, such as wanting to expand your knowledge of specific topics and learn new skills. If the professor says no, it is likely because the class is already full or because the course involves specific skills or prerequisites. For example, medical classes and courses that use advanced technology are typically not open for auditing.

Sign Me Up

Even though you aren't taking the course for credit, you still need to complete the university's required registration process. The professor will usually give you a signed permission form, which you'll then present to the registrar. After registering, your name will appear on the class roster and you'll receive a grade of AU on your university transcript. Auditing students are still required to pay school tuition and fees for the class.

Proper Auditing Etiquette

As an auditor, you are present in class in an observatory capacity. You may listen and take notes, but are otherwise expected to keep your involvement to a minimum. You are, however, expected to attend class regularly, arrive on time and stay for the entire session. If the class is in a small room with limited seats, sit in the back to give prime seating to students taking it for credit. If you have a question or comment, speak with the instructor afterward rather than taking up class time.

Doing Your Homework

Just because you play a passive role in class doesn't mean you won't be asked to complete assignments. At the very least, you'll be expected to do assigned readings in order to follow lectures and discussions. The professor may also give you some written assignments; for example, if you're auditing a creative writing class, he may ask you to submit some poems for class critique. Because you aren't taking the class for credit, the assignments will exist as a means of participation rather than being graded. Generally, auditors also do not take tests or final examinations.

About the Author

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.

Photo Credits

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