What Does it Mean to Audit a Class?

Auditing classes is a great way to gain some knowledge and develop some new skills without worrying about what grade you get in that class. While the college will still require that you attend all classes, complete all assignments and even take tests and quizzes, you do not get a letter grade at the end of the semester. Many students audit because they want to see what some professors are like or because they want to get a feel for the class ahead of time. Make sure that you understand how auditing works and the benefits of auditing before signing up.

What Classes Can You Take?

Most colleges do not limit the number or type of classes you can audit. The exception is with classes that have prerequisites in place. Before taking a class on experimental psychology, the school may require that students take a class on statistics and an introduction to psychology class. You’ll still need to complete those prerequisites before auditing that class. Some schools will also let you audit shorter classes that do not run for a complete semester such as classes on careers in a certain field or a job hunting class that only meets for a few weeks.

How Does Auditing Work?

With auditing, you agree to do the same amount of work that you would as a fully enrolled student but without receiving a grade at the end of the semester. Though some schools offer pass-fail classes that let you either pass or fail at the end of the semester, those classes will still give you course credit. With auditing, you do not get any credit for the work that you do. You must do all assignments, take the same tests and quizzes and put in the same level of work.

Will It Cost?

The cost of auditing classes depends on how the college you choose operates its program. Some schools let students audit classes for free, but others charge fees for taking up space in the classroom and for the professor to process your work. Other colleges charge a higher amount that is half or more of what the full class would cost. Even if your school charges no fees or nominal fees for auditing students, you’ll still need to pay for the textbooks that the professor uses and for any supplies you’ll use in that class.

Why Audit a Class?

As you do not get any course credit or even a grade for the classes that you audit, you might wonder why you should audit any class. Auditing a class lets you see if you can handle the advanced work required in that class and learn more about the professor before you take the full class. USA Today College points out that these classes are also helpful for those who want to change majors and those who want to gain knowledge they can use in other courses. Auditing an introductory course before changing your major can help you see if you have a real interest in that subject.

Many colleges have programs that allow students to audit courses for free or for a small amount of money. While auditing classes won’t give you course credit, those courses can help you decide whether to change majors, introduce you to new professors and help you get a handle on advanced subjects.

See also: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit