GV students, professors audit classes
For many Grand Valley State University students, playing hookey and slacking on assignments can become a frequent problems. Class is a chore — an undesirable albeit necessary step to receiving the long-awaited diploma.
But GVSU Junior Nick Macksood has a different mentality. The French and Classics major attends every Theories of Communication class, does the assigned readings and participates in discussion — for absolutely no academic credit.
Macksood opted to audit the course and learn for learning’s sake, not to receive a mark on the transcript to satisfy future employers.
“A couple friends had the class, and I heard the professor, Corey Anton, was fantastic,” he said of his decision to set aside time for the course. Had the option to audit not been available, Macksood said he wouldn’t have been able to schedule it in.
Betty Schaner, director of the CLAS Academic Advising Center, said any student can audit a course after expressing their interest to the GVSU Registrar’s Office.
Schaner said the rules about auditing courses are similar to those of credit/no credit courses; students can decide within the first five days of a course whether they’d like to audit the class and cannot take more than 10 credit hours of credit/no credit or audited courses per semester.
The main difference between the two course types is that students don’t receive credit for audited courses like they do with credit/no credit classes.
Furthermore, auditing students aren’t held responsible to complete exams or assignments like they would be with other registration forms.
In Macksood’s case, the professor provides all the material, but the amount of work he puts into it the course entirely up to him.
“I don’t do as much as others because I’m not being tested, but I can get as deep as I want,” he said. “I could take test if I wanted.”
While no credit is received for taking audited courses, the opportunity still has its advantages.
Macksood said the class has opened his mind about his future plans.
“It’s one of a handful of classes (I’ve taken) that has meant something to me,” he said. “Whether it be grad school, (or something else), it’s opened me up to an entire new world of academia.”
Students like Macksood aren’t the only ones able to participate in auditing courses. Robert Robins, an affiliate professor in GVSU’s hospitality and tourism management department, is currently enrolled in the photography course, Color Printing.
“Photography has always been a hobby of mine,” Robins said. “I wanted to improve my own skills by learning from these artists. I started taking a class here and there at first, then got really into it.”
While Robins has enrolled in other photography courses for a grade, he admits that students react differently to having a professor in class as a fellow student.
“Many times on the first day of class they think I’m the instructor, which is always fun,” he said. “The photography students are really focused on their craft and so many have such real talent, I am learning as much from them as they get from my life’s experience.”
While attending the photography courses, Robins is still teaching in his discipline of hospitality and tourism management, but he said his relationship with the students in his photography classes is somewhat altered.
“I try to stay low key as much as possible,” he said. “I have to, at times, remind myself that while I may know the answer to a question or have an opinion to share, I have the advantage of age and experience but I have to let the other students work through it.”
Robins said his communication with the course professor also changes due to his position as an educator.
“I usually talk it over with the professor beforehand and say, ‘If you want an answer, call on me, otherwise I’ll hang back,’” he said.
Robins explained that in his experience, some professors deal with his presence better than others.
“It has to be a bit of a challenge at times to have a ‘peer’ sitting in their classroom (and) I suppose it could be intimidating to some,” he said.
When making decisions about whether to audit classes, Schaner said there are benefits and disadvantages to consider.
“(When auditing a class), students can attend the course but typically aren’t responsible for all assignments and tests, unless the professor deems otherwise,” Schaner said. “It can give a student a chance to ‘brush up’ on material if it’s been awhile since taking a course (or) if they have been away from college for some time.”
The chance to bypass tests and quizzes may appeal to some students, but Schaner warns that auditing a course doesn’t mean they will not be responsible for the knowledge.
“Professors expect all students to participate fully in classes,” she said. “It can be difficult to form study or work groups and expectations are different.”
Questions about auditing classes can be directed to academic advisers.
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