by Shawna Graves, Office of Public Relations

Many courses at Sul Ross State University are open to community members who wish to audit a lecture-based class or use the No Grade option to enroll in a participatory class, like art, music or drama.

Most semesters Lecturer Matt Walter has a nondegree seeking student in one of his history classes. “I often have students audit, especially my Texas history class,” he said. Many times these students are new to Texas and want to learn about their new home, he added.

Professors usually welcome the addition of nontraditional students to class.

“I love it. It adds diversity,” Walter said.

Carol Fairlie, Professor of Art, agrees. “Community members always get a kick out of working alongside students. Plus, they bring the level of work up in a class because they take it so seriously,” she said.

If the course is lecture-based, a student may request to audit. This option only costs $50 but comes with limitations. Auditors are not permitted to participate, but enroll to listen and observe only, and may only audit if the class did not fill to capacity by the first day.

Permission to audit must be obtained from the instructor for the course, the chair of the department and the registrar.

For students looking for a more involved class experience, or for those wishing to enroll in lab and activity-based courses, there is a No Grade option. Under this category, a student pays full tuition and fees and is allowed to participate at the same level as a degree seeking student. This option offers all the fun of learning without the worry over degree status.

Senior students, ages 65 and up, have the added benefit of tuition exemption for classes.

“Those 65 and over can take a participatory class and just pay fees. Then they can elect a No Grade option or apply through Apply Texas if they wish to enroll for college credit,” Registrar Pamela Pipes said.

Seniors receive up to six hours of free tuition each semester and paying only fees reduces the cost.

Fairlie compared taking a Sul Ross class to taking an out-of-area workshop.

“If you pay for a weeklong watercolor workshop in Houston, it may cost $500 and you have to drive to Houston and pay for a hotel for the week. At Sul Ross, one class is about $800, and you get six hours of class each week for 16 weeks. It’s a good deal. And seniors pay less,” she said.

Paperwork for both options is found by navigating to the University website to the Registrar tab. From there, choose Forms for Students and Faculty, then click on Forms for Students, and scroll down to “Permission to Audit” and “Request for No Grade Option.”

Classes for each semester are listed under “Class Schedule” found under the Quick Links tab at Contact the professor directly to inquire about enrolling as a nondegree seeking student and to begin the paperwork process.