A case for audits: More class time can be time well spent

By: Katherine Colborn

Audit: to attend (a class) informally, not for academic credit. Auditing, it would seem, is one of the lesser-known delights available from a liberal arts college experience. It wasn’t until my senior year that I was let in on this glorious secret: the chance to audit is a blessing.

As a double major, I’ve taken 18-credit course loads nearly every semester since I began here. The intention to graduate in four years has prevented me from truly exploring elective courses, but I was lucky enough this semester to cap the number of my required courses at five, leaving me with the space to audit one more.

For the first time since I stepped foot on campus, I was able to attend a class regularly, enjoy the information and the discussion, but was relieved from any of the expected homework or grade anxiety. Isn’t that every college kid’s dream?

There are down sides to auditing, to be sure. You don’t get the credit on your transcript (other than an indication that you audited a class), no matter how much you learn, and there’s no boost to your GPA.

But those “down sides” might not be quite so bad. In fact, depending on how you see it, they might be the best part of auditing.

Most of us as students feel pressured to reach a certain standard while we work to complete our studies. We expect ourselves (and are expected by others) to earn certain letter grades, or read a certain number of books or type up a certain number of lab reports. Although goals like these motivate and inspire us to constantly challenge and exert ourselves, it is important to remember why we’re here.

We came to college for, first and foremost, an education. Despite what some might argue, colleges exist to teach, and students exist to learn. I argue that one of the best ways to recall our purpose and intentions is by auditing.

Auditing allows you the freedom to enjoy learning for learning’s sake. Forget about the tests and the papers; go to a class because you’re interested in the subject, not because you’re afraid of failing a quiz. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

If you’re a full-time student (that is to say, you are taking more than 12 credit hours in a semester), this is a reminder: you are paying for 18 credits, regardless of your current schedule. Get the most for your money. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to tap dance, or perhaps you’ve harbored an interest in clay-modeling, and want to take a sculpture or ceramics class. Maybe you’d like to know more about sustainable living or personal finance.

If you’re interested in something but don’t feel like you have the time to do all the work for another class, consider auditing at least one class in your college career, simply for the experience. No, you won’t get credit for it, and no, it won’t really add much to your transcript. But it will provide you the time and opportunity to learn something. If you’re taking 15 credit hours, and have three hours a week to dedicate to learning something just because you’re interested in it, consider auditing an extra course. Step outside the utilitarian mindset for three hours a week at least once in your four years at Xavier and allow yourself to enjoy the reason you are here.

Katherine Colborn is a senior from Cleveland. She is the Managing Editor of the Newswire and is majoring in English and art.