How to Survey a College Course

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If you want to increase your knowledge about a topic or explore areas outside your major but do not want to worry about your grade, consider surveying or auditing a class. Auditing a class means you sit in on lectures and discussions but do not receive a grade. Although specific requirements vary, most schools make students get permission and fill out paperwork before surveying a class.

Get Permission

  • Since auditing a class takes up a seat, you likely need to gain permission from the course instructor. You may also need approval from your academic adviser and maybe even the dean of the college for the course you wish to survey. Surveying a course means you won't be awarded credits. Auditing a class interferes with the time you can spend on other courses that lead toward graduation, so you should understand the impact as well as the benefits of auditing.

Complete Paperwork

  • You usually need to fill out specific paperwork so the instructor and the records office know you want to survey a class. Schools with online registration, such as the University of Minnesota, may have options allowing you to indicate you want to audit when you enroll simply by selecting from a drop-down menu. Others, such as Colorado State University, require students to fill out an audit form and submit it before the add-or-drop deadline. Check your school's requirements carefully before enrolling. At Monroe Community College in New York, for instance, students cannot change regular enrollment status to audit status after signing up for credit and must complete a different process to audit.

Pay Fees

  • You will likely have to pay for a class you audit just as you would for one you take for credit. Schools typically charge tuition and fees on the same per-credit basis as they do for courses you take for credit. Some schools, such as the University of North Texas in Denton, offer special deals for older students. There, students at least 65 years old may audit courses without paying any tuition or fees if seats are available. The University of Florida in Gainesville offers similar waivers for Florida residents ages 60 or older, and Monroe Community College in New York also waives tuition for seniors.

Complete the Course

  • Students surveying a course sit in on lectures and may take part in class conversations and activities, but they do not generally take tests or turn in assignments. A course you audited will typically appear on your transcript but it won't have a grade. Instead, you will see a designation for the audit, such as University of Minnesota's "V" indicating "visitor" or "AU" from Colorado State University. Students auditing a course to obtain continuing education units, such as courses needed for teachers, health-care professionals and certified public accountants, should carefully evaluate the school's policy regarding CEUs. For example, at University of Florida, the course instructor determines if an auditing student receives CEUs, which do not appear on the school transcript.

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