Auditing classes allows lifelong learners to continue their academic journeys
Full-time Rutgers students and members of the New Brunswick community can participate in not-for-credit audit classes to learn about their favorite topics without the stress of grades.
Auditing a class is a low-cost way of getting important and interesting information that you would not get through other activities, said Ross Baker, a professor in the Department of Political Science who teaches two upper-level courses, both of which touch upon some degree of World War II.
"I have to say that in most instances the people who have come to audit have been retired people, whose presence by the way is enormously valuable," Baker said.
Baker said that it was nice to have somebody with living memory of World War II to be there to either vouch for what he says, correct him or just simply add some interesting little note of personal importance.
The Senior Citizen Audit Program was created by the Rutgers University Board of Governors to permit retired New Jersey residents, age 62 or older, to attend courses on a space-available, noncredit basis with no tuition costs, according to the site.
Only courses during the fall and spring semesters are offered for senior citizens to audit.
“With retired people, I think that they are allowed to do it. I don’t think any of the senior citizens that took my course were Rutgers students," Baker said. "They just came to me and said they read the catalog saw my course and they were interested and I simply said yes and they’ve just always been great additions to the class."
Students may audit a course without registration by obtaining permission from the course instructor and are subject to space limitations. No academic credit is earned by auditing a class, and audited courses do not appear on the student's transcript, according to the Rutgers course catalog website.
“I had one student audit my class this year in my upper division U.S. Congress class and I believe he really would have been one of the best students in the class but for one reason or the other, I think he came to three sessions and stopped coming. And I think that’s the problem," Baker said. "I think that when stakes are so low and there is no grade involved and at the same time you have obligations that do carry grades I think the tendency is to blow off the auditing and stick with the credit courses."
Not many students are aware that they are allowed to audit certain courses.
“It is such a cool concept but not many students know about it,” said Megan Finucane, a Rutgers Business School sophomore.
Some courses are only offered to specific majors, she said.
“One of the classes I would like to audit is the Artificial Intelligence class but it is only offered to engineer majors,” Finucane said. “I feel like it should be opened to more students just because it covers I.T. as well as engineering so if someone’s interested in it, they should be able to audit it.”
Students prioritizing credit courses is an issue, Baker said. Auditing is a great way to experience and participate in a valuable and intellectual experience.
"You're now coming to class and just listening without the pressure of knowing you have to get a grade, I think in some way makes the learning easier,” he said.