Given the normally rigorous and demanding academic life K students undertake each quarter, it might seem foolish to want to add any more possible stress into the equation by taking on another class. But for students who are interested in taking on an extra class, auditing is an experience some K-students are using as a way to advance their studies in different ways while at K.
“People are interested in so many things, you shouldn’t be tied down to your major,” said Sarah Baehr’15. Last quarter, Baehr was interested in auditing the course, Energy and Environmental Policy. The class’s topic and its infrequent offering pushed Baehr to audit the course.
“It was about current events and I think that, especially being here, current events are something that people don’t keep as up to date with,” said Baehr. “I thought this class would be a good way to keep myself accountable and knowledgeable in the subject area.”
Auditing a course provides a less formal approach to studying at K, and can minimize the academic stress so many students become overwhelmed with during a quarter. Auditing a course relieves the stress over grades, said Baehr.
“I think it takes off the pressure,” Baehr said. “It makes it feel less like a class because you aren’t being graded. You are taking the class to learn the material as opposed to taking the class to learn the material but also being graded on your ability to use the material.”
Indigo McCollum’15 feels a similar stress regarding grades in K courses.
“I feel like a lot of the times you get caught up in ‘what’s going to be on the test’, ‘what’s going to be on the paper’, ‘what do I have to know for this’, and so I could focus on what I found interesting and what’s important for my development and my future,” said McCollum.
McCollum looked into auditing Animal Psychology with Lab last quarter as a way to take a course she desired to study since Freshman year. “Especially with K when it’s really difficult to get into classes, it gave me the opportunity to learn the material and do the labs without having to take the class.”
Auditing courses can also assist students who need to get ahead or become more familiar in a subject to prepare for an upcoming test, such as the GRE. In preparation for the GRE, Maggie Clevenger’15 is auditing Advances Genetics to better learn the required material.
“There is a GRE test that is a subject test that is about one third genetics,” said Clevenger. “It’s a huge stress off your back to be able to go to class and take notes and process it without having to worry about cramming, so it is a different experience in the classroom,”
After Clevenger’s experience auditing she regrets not taking advantage of the option earlier in her Kalamazoo College career.
“If I had audited psychology classes or business classes or philosophy I would probably have a lot more people who would be willing to write letters of recommendation or had advised to go to different conferences,” said Clevenger.
As a way to branch out and take to heart K’s liberal arts structure, auditing can allow students to move more fluidly between subjects and interests said Baehr.
“Aristotle would be impressed, its human flourishing.”