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I’m Auditing a Class!

Fátima’s experience not taking her favorite class.

Fátima’s experience not taking her favorite class.

This term, in addition to the customary three six-credit courses that make up most Carleton trimesters, I have the pleasure of auditing English 222 – The Art of Jane Austen. Taught by marvelous Professor Susan Jaret McKinstry, it has quickly become one of my favorite classes I have ever [not] taken at Carleton, and the auditing experience has only increased my enjoyment of it. Auditing, however, is not a common or well-known practice at Carleton. I have gotten a lot of questions about it, so I thought it would be a good idea to answer them here!

What is Auditing?

Auditing a class means that, even though you are not officially registered for it, you still attend class sessions, do the readings, and participate in discussions the same way a regular student would. This means that I don’t get any credit or a letter grade for this class, but it also means that I don’t have to do any of the assignments (unless I want to!).

A stack of Jane Austen books.
Five out of the six books that I am reading for class. Bonus points if you can tell me which one is missing.

Why Audit?

Because I am trying to complete three minors in addition to my major, my schedule is not very flexible, and almost all the classes I need to take until I graduate are already set in stone. Unfortunately, that meant that I couldn’t sacrifice any of the courses that I am officially registered for this term to take ENGL 222. Still, since I love Jane Austen and the English department, and I had heard stellar reviews about Susan, I knew I could not miss the opportunity to take the class with her before she retires. 

Luckily, none of my other classes happened to be scheduled for the same slot as ENGL 222. So, towards the end of the fall term, I reached out to Susan to express my profound interest in auditing her class, to which she generously agreed! Carleton has no official policy on auditing, so it is up to the professor to allow a student to audit, and I am extremely grateful to Susan for letting me do so.

My Experience

Words do not suffice to express how much I like ENGL 222. Susan’s passion for and knowledge of Jane Austen’s literature are pure and contagious, and she has a knack for engaging us in meaningful conversations about the author’s work and helping us unpack the social commentary, historical data, and literary genius underneath. 

My classmates are equally wonderful. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to bounce ideas off them, learn from their insightful commentary, and experience one of my favorite authors alongside them, some of whom are just discovering Jane Austen for the first time. 

Students look at printmaking books from the Library's special collections.
To complement our historical knowledge of Austen’s time, we visited the Gould Library’s special collections section! (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture so enjoy this one from another group instead).

To my pleasant surprise, keeping up with the readings for ENGL 222 has not been too challenging on top of my regular course load. Perhaps because I have already read some Jane Austen before, or perhaps because novels are a lot quicker to read than academic articles, I have been devouring each volume and anxiously awaiting the time I get to share my reactions to it with my peers. 

Above all else, auditing has taught me to appreciate the classroom experience in a whole new light. I feel privileged to have been welcomed into a class I am not “officially” a student of and, as a result, I feel much more motivated to actively participate and show my genuine interest in the subject matter. Similarly, because I do not have to deal with the pressure of a grade or the weight of assignments as I have done with some of my other classes, I feel like I am learning for the sake of learning, and [re]falling in love with it in the process!

As a junior, Fátima (she/her) is excited to continue her pursuit of a SOAN major and (hopefully!) Educational Studies, Latin American Studies, and Cross-cultural Studies minors. Outside class, she enjoys her leadership roles with Fellowship in Christ and the Undergraduate Journal for Humanistic Studies. In her free time, Fátima likes spending time with her mentee, poorly playing the piano, watching cartoons, and desperately missing her dog, Cosmo. Meet the other bloggers!