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.