All around campus, there are students who are here to learn, but not to receive any diploma or accolades. Washburn University offers free tuition for Kansas residents age 60 or older to audit credit courses.
As long as there is space available after the enrollment of paying students according to the community and continuing education page of the university’s website, they can enroll
There are 231 of these auditing students enrolled through this program this semester according to the registrar’s office.
One of these auditors is Bob King, of Topeka. King has been auditing classes here for about five years.
“It started with one [Bob] Beatty class,” King said. “I’ve always been interested in politics, so I thought I would enjoy it.”
King is auditing four classes in history and political science this semester, which he says seems like too much even though he and other auditors don’t have any of the coursework due.
There is one department that is very popular with a lot of auditors, but you won’t find King there.
“I wouldn’t dare take an art class,” King said.
A fellow auditor with King is John Bartel. He has been auditing off and on since 2013, mostly taking classes in the history department. He is taking three such classes this semester.
“I’m in European Reformation, Remembering Vietnam, and Alexander Hamilton,” Bartel said.
It is a fairly strenuous process to enroll as an auditor. King and Bartel both spoke of how quickly it happens.
“There is one day, right at the beginning of the semester,” King said. “All of us have to physically go to Morgan and register there. We can’t do it online.”
The auditing program can be helpful for fellow students and even professors.
“I teach a lot of classes on 20th century US history,” said Rachel Goossen of the history department. “A lot of the auditors lived through what I teach.”
Goossen is teaching a class this semester on the Vietnam War.
“I was a small child during that time,” said Goossen. “I don’t really have any memories of what was going on and having people who are able to tell of their experiences is tremendous.”
Goossen has auditors in most of her classes. She usually has at least two but has had some classes where that number is much higher. There was one class that had as many as 16 auditors.
The auditors can also offer incredible insight into specific events in history being taught. Goosen had such an experience when she was covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the protests that occured.
“We had an auditor who was serving in the National Guard during the protests,” Goossen said. “I changed the schedule and we spent the next class period listening to him tell his experience with that.”
It is clear that the auditing program is beneficial to those who utilize it. Younger students can also gain a lot of knowledge from it.