When Should You Audit a College Course?

Choosing whether or not to audit a college course can initially seem perplexing. After all, why complete a class that will earn you no credit? However, there are a number of reasons to audit a college course, such as:

1. No cost for flat-fee students

For those students who pay a flat tuition fee per semester, auditing a class is typically free of charge (though fees may still apply). This means that the knowledge you gain from an audited college course costs only the low price of being present. Note that not all colleges and universities operate with a flat-fee system, and you must still enroll in enough credit-bearing classes to remain a full-time student. But if this scenario is an option for you, it can be a very good deal.

2. Risk-free education

College is a process of self-discovery. If you wish to complete a course outside your major, or to simply try something new, auditing a class allows you to enjoy the learning process without worrying about grades. While you may still be required to finish assignments, you can focus on understanding the material and engaging with unfamiliar concepts. Here is some great information on college majors.

3. Previewing a subject or teacher

Auditing is also the perfect opportunity to determine if a particular college course or path is right for you. Unlike a traditional class, where you would need to drop the course by a given deadline or risk a low mark on your transcript, audited classes are generally less formal. If you have been observing a course for three weeks and you dislike it, you can simply withdraw and factor those experiences into your future class planning. Auditing is also an excellent way to explore a major or a professor before you commit. You may also want to explore an on campus job that can help you explore college majors.

4. Lower stakes and higher rewards

Grades can add pressure to college courses. Include the stress of planning for a career or a future major, and classroom output is suddenly a new game of worry. Auditing, on the other hand, allows students to truly focus on exploring a subject. This can be helpful for those students who feel they do not have the time to intellectually pursue a passion, as well as those students who are nervous about stepping outside their comfort zones. Whatever your reasons for auditing a college course, many students routinely comment about how they learned more than they expected to during the process. This is also an ideal moment to forge connections for future research interests, as well as to meet new people on campus. 

Do not let the myths about auditing a college course fool you—auditing can be a great way to expand your education without the stress of another grade-bearing course. Here are some tips and tricks to make your final year of college less stressful. Ask your advisor or registrar for information about enrollment policies, such as who can audit which classes and how to sign up. Remember: if you audit a college course, you are still expected to complete certain readings and assignments. You may also be asked to contribute to class discussion. Therefore, if you are overwhelmed as it is, save your academic exploration for a different, future semester.