5 Reasons to Audit a Class

5 Reasons to Audit a Class

You may be wondering, “What is auditing a class?” Auditing classes gives you the chance to sit in on a class. You can learn from a professor without actually receiving a grade in that class. You’ll still complete the same assignments. You will even take the same tests. You can learn more about an interesting topic without worrying about the grade the teacher gives you in the end. There are some great reasons why many students opt to audit at least one class while in college. Many colleges allow this option.

Before Declaring a Major

Before you declare major or change majors while in school, ask if you can audit a class in that major. Even taking lower-level introductory courses will let you learn more about the topic. You can pick up some of the skills you might need in higher-level courses within that major. While auditing classes, you’ll also have the chance to see if that major fits with your interests and career goals. When you audit introductory courses, it’s easier to take one class ahead of time than to switch majors again in the future.

You Need Help in Another Class

USA Today College recommends that students audit a course when they need help in another college course. You can audit course meaning that if you take a college course on abnormal psychology and are have problems keeping up with your peers, you might take an introduction to psychology course before trying to take abnormal psychology again. This teaches you the basic principles of psychology and gives you more knowledge about topics like:

  • measurements
  • assessments
  • evaluations

Not all colleges require that you take introductory college courses that give you a solid foundation before taking those more advanced classes.

Take a Break

A common reason why students audit courses in college is because they want to take a break. Full-time students usually take a minimum of 12 credit hours of classes. Some full-time students take 18 or more credits every semester. Those courses will require that you:

  • research different topics
  • prepare for exams
  • do homework
  • complete group projects with other students

Auditing a class lets you take a break from your studies. You can learn more about a new subject. As you do not receive a grade at the end of the term, you can focus less on that class.

Go Outside Your Major

Some college students focus more on the classes required of their majors without thinking about their own interests. When you audit a class, you have the chance to go outside of your major and learn about a related subject or a completely different topic. As a science or engineering major, you might enjoy taking a ceramics or a performing arts class that lets you express your creative side. You can also take classes that will help supplement your major like a drama major who takes classes on creative writing.

Gain More Knowledge

Gain More Knowledge

Why should I audit a class? One of the best reasons to audit a class is because it lets you gain more knowledge. College is your chance to learn more about subjects you never heard of while in high school and subjects your textbooks only glossed over. Instead of cramming in decades of history in a few months, you can take classes on specific areas or types of history such as:

  • women in the United States
  • architectural history
  • art history
  • World War II

Auditing courses can help you graduate as a more well-rounded student.

How To Audit Classes

You may be asking yourself how to audit a class. Having covered the primary reasons that most people audited college courses today, we can now take a look at the actual process of auditing those courses. How exactly does one audit a course? How is the audit initially setup? What are some key tips to keep in mind in order to get the most from an audit while also making it as stress-free as possible? The following information covers the important “how-tos” of auditing today.

Research Audit Policies, Plan Accordingly

One of the most important things to realize right up front is the fact that not all schools have universal audit policies. Some schools have no audit policies whatsoever. In most schools, though, the decision to allow or disallow course audits, as well as the aligns of their parameters, if allowed, goes to the professor who may teach the audited class. They can then decide what they are comfortable with in terms of an audit.

Most professors are excellent stewards of their corresponding, taught subjects and their schools and will thus happily allow for audits to take place in their classes. On occasion, a professor may not be okay with an audit. This can be for a variety of justifiable reasons. One of the chief reasons for a professor not allowing audits is that of the concern for classroom distraction.

Make Contact With Professor

If the prospective auditing student finds out through administration that both the school and a professor of the desired audit subject are okay with an audit, the next step is typically to then reach out to that professor personally. The purpose of this initial contact is multi-pronged. It usually takes place via email or telephone call. Regardless of the method, the chief goal here is to arrange a time and date for the audit as well as to establish acceptable ground-rules for what can and cannot take place during the audit.

In general, these ground-rules should simply establish some basic aligns such as avoidance of distraction, if and how the auditor can ask questions and otherwise participate, and how many class sessions they will be allowed to participate in with the engagement expected. You can also find out if you need any course materials. In all arranged parameters, the inquiring auditor should be respectful of the professor. When able, always yield the advantage of an undecided factor to the professor for the final say. Presenting stress, disrespect, or another difficulty to the professor at this point can jeopardize the entire process.

Follow Administrative Checklist

Provided that the professor and the auditing student have now agreed to the terms of the audit visit or visits, the next and final step of the process before the actual audit usually entails the auditing student following up with any administrative tasks they must now complete. In many cases, this involves the completion of some basic paperwork. This is standard on many campuses for security and other reasons. The exact aligns of that paperwork and other administrative tasks can differ greatly from one professor or school to the next, though a final check-in verifying attendance shortly before the class is a usual and recommended courtesy in all cases.

The Online Course Auditing Process

For those interested in auditing an online class, the process for arranging such an audit isn’t altogether very different from that of a traditional, brick-and-mortar audit. In some cases, however, arranging an audit online can take longer due to the need for the creation of temporary digital student accounts, security allowances, and all other, related, digital actionables. In many instances, one advantage to the online audit over the in-person audit is the limited amount of distraction a visitor might provide versus being in-person. This, in turn, may loosen any professor hesitancy otherwise.

Additional Tips, Resources, Summary

When it comes to auditing college courses, as mentioned above, always remember to be respectful and courteous. It is the prospective auditor who is, after all, requesting something of the school and a professor therein, and not the other way around. It’s also helpful to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get setup for an audit. One should not expect to simply make the initial request and be in class the next day or even in the next few days. Setting up an audit takes at least a few weeks, if not longer, in most cases. Be sure to give yourself as much time as possible to get it set up. This is a great learning experience for planning ahead as well.

The prospective auditor should also come to class highly prepared, as this may be their only shot at an audit in this particular setting. This means learning as much about the course and its associated learning materials as possible beforehand. Having a list of questions at the ready at this point is a good idea also.

Finally, there are a number of great resources with which potential student auditors might become even better prepared for the entire process of auditing courses. The following represent a few of the best options for student auditors to keep abreast of this information.

US News & World Report

Over the years, US News & World Report has become a certain authority in ranking US-based schools and their various offerings. Each year, the organization’s “Best Colleges” list also helps countless visitors to make a much more informed school choice.

US Department of Education

Perhaps the absolute most authoritative resource on all things involving education in the US is the US Department of Education. Right from the department website’s home page, one can springboard into all sorts of topics including:

  • student loans
  • accredited school info
  • education laws
  • special education applications

Association For Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education

The Association For Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education is another great resource to inquire with regarding auditing and other educational discovery efforts. Anything involving individuals seeking to better their academic futures is a subject area embraced by this organization.


There are many valid reasons for a college student to audit a course. It is a low risk way to learn more about a career choice. It can be a very rewarding experience. It is an opportunity for academic exploration of diverse academic disciplines. College students do not always take classes just to earn credit that counts towards graduation. Some audit classes and learn the same things as other students without worrying about their grades. A few reasons students might prefer auditing a class includes:

  • taking a break
  • learning outside of their majors
  • getting help choosing a major

Now that you understand, “What does auditing a class mean,” you may have the option of auditing classes in your future. Most universities will make this an option.

Related Resources: