With prerequisites, conflicts between course offerings, major requirements, labs and lectures, it’s often hard to know where to begin to plan your schedule, let alone fit in courses that just pique your interest. Although the idea of auditing is not widely advertised at most schools, it’s a phenomenon many students should strongly consider. Auditing gives you the chance to branch out and take a variety of classes in different fields of study.

Nearly every college and university has some established method in choosing to audit a course. USC and UCLA, as well as community colleges like Los Angeles City College and West Los Angeles College, have opportunities to audit that are available through the registrar’s office.

Typically, auditing a class involves attending all classes just like you would any other course. Some professors may want you to partake in discussions and/or small homework assignments, but traditionally it’s not mandatory. However, depending on the course, it is helpful to read or review the material to be discussed.

Without the usual stresses – worrying about grades, preparing for exams and writing papers – that accompany classes taken for credit, you can absorb information and acquire new skills and knowledge.

Ever wanted to take French but weren’t sure if all that parlez-vous-ing was up your alley? Well, you can audit it and see if the next level is worth taking for credit, or if the subject is interesting enough to major or minor.

Additionally, after auditing you may be able to take the next course level for credit or do sufficiently well on a placement test, thus bypassing the prerequisite requirement.

For underclassmen, auditing provides insight as to which direction to consider as far as major(s) or minor(s), and for seniors, it provides insight into avenues to explore after college, and it may even be helpful in supplementing skills acquired from your major(s). Either way, auditing is a way to continue with areas of study that are enjoyable, but may not always be practical or worthwhile to devote to a major.

With auditing, just as with any other course, you get as much out of it as you put in. The worst thing that could happen after auditing a course is that you discover you don’t like it, but then again, you realize this without wasting any precious credits or having to withdraw from the course and receive a “W.”

Ultimately, you never know what you’re capable of, or what you may want to do in the future, unless you try it.