Auditing Classes: 21st Century Tips

Students have always been able to audit classes they had of interest in and many students in these courses weren’t even enrolled in the college but simply showed up to gain some knowledge with the professors permission. However, in the 21st-century there are so many different types of courses and new tools for education where students can take advantage of the good old fashion auditing experience in order to gain knowledge they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to (READ: “Success for Independent Learners: Getting Out of College Faster”).


1. Auditing a class on campus

Students can still audit classes on campus in pretty much any field of study they choose (as long as they have the professor’s permission, and there’s room in the class). This is a great way for students to try out a new subject matter and material they are interested in but don’t wish to complete all assignments or take exams. There are hundreds of courses offered on campus that are extremely interesting but may not benefit the student to spend time on studying and assignment completion if they have several other courses in their major. It’s important for students to know they will not receive credit for an audited course.

2. Preparing for a difficult course

Students who are concerned about getting that one extremely difficult math class out of the way, for example, may choose to audit Intro to Calculus in the fall semester so they can learn the material without the pressure of receiving a low-grade. This way, when they have to take Calculus for Non-majors in the spring they will be familiar with the concepts and assignments (READ: “Tips From an Irvine College Admissions Consultant: Choosing a Major in College”).

3. Getting to know professors

Many students choose non-required courses based on the professor rather than the subject matter. This is a popular choice because a good professor is invaluable, and they impart knowledge well outside of what is listed on the syllabus. However, students often don’t know who the ideal professors are until they have taken a few courses. Students can audit classes from a few well-known professors and see which personality clicks with them.

4. New technology

In 2015, students are no longer limited to auditing classes on campus. Forums such as iTunes University and Khan Academy, allow students free and low-cost access to valuable knowledge. Perhaps a student wants to learn Spanish so they can communicate more effectively during a study abroad experience but don’t want to audit a full course on campus. They can take advantage of these free online courses (essentially an audit) to improve their language skills (READ: “Success for Independent Learners”).

5. Practicalities

Students are encouraged to consider the practicalities of auditing a course whether online or on campus. Students who audit will receive a great deal of knowledge without the pressure of exams and assignments. They will also receive access to the mind of a highly educated professor, assuming a live person teaches the course. However, these courses never result in credit and cannot raise (or lower) a student’s grade. Students who are looking for courses that are interesting but can raise their overall GPA are encouraged to take courses they have extensive knowledge in and ones they can take for a letter grade. On the downside, students who audit courses may take longer to finish college and will have less time to work at their part-time job. With students struggling to get out of college in four to five years as it is, auditing a course may not be as practical as first thought.

Bottom line

Students will have different feelings about the practicalities of education and whether it should lead them directly to a paying job or if they should experience education for education’s sake. Students who wish to get in and out of their university experience as soon as possible may find that auditing a course is only practical if it helps them pass an extremely difficult but required course while students who have enough time to focus on exploring different avenues of knowledge, may see auditing as a fantastic way to learn about new material without taking on the pressure of tests and exams.

Need additional help choosing classes in college? Talk to one of our Orange County private college consultants.

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