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You're never too old for school: Two non-student auditors take class at UNC

Bill Prinack (left) and Fred Shectman are non-UNC auditors who attend Matt Andrews' Sport and American History class.
Bill Prinack (left) and Fred Shectman are non-UNC auditors who attend Matt Andrews' Sport and American History class.

Primack and Shectman have been in the class since the beginning of the semester. They are non-UNC auditors, which means they take classes on campus but aren’t UNC students.

“Anyone from the community that is interested in a class here (can audit), so it could be someone who is retired or just looking to audit a class to get additional information,” said Heather Duncan, assistant registrar for registration services.

Duncan said auditing comes with a $20 fee, and the auditor needs permission from the instructor and department head. Once approved, the auditor has access to Sakai and course documents but does not have to complete tests and assignments.

Auditing has historically been allowed on campus, but a 2010 change in policy required non-UNC auditors to register for classes rather than simply sitting in.

“There are four or five guys who are all retired who, some of them kind of follow me from class to class. Whatever I’m teaching they show up,” Andrews said.

“Last year I had a 92-year-old come to my class. It was great; we were talking about World War II and he was like, ‘Well let me tell you about...’ you know. So I think there’s a value to that, that I like.”

Some auditors have taken every one of Andrews’ classes, but this is the first of his classes both Primack and Shectman have taken. Primack said sports is a passion for him because he played varsity soccer in college.

“It’s interesting, and it’s running parallel with the other class I’m taking, which is religion in American history,” Primack said.

“So the two classes are kind of running from a chronological perspective in lockstep, so it’s interesting to see how the two interplay.”

Primack said he used to teach at the UNC School of Medicine and he had previous knowledge about auditing. Shectman said he found out about auditing through word of mouth.

“Someone told me that when you get to be an old geezer like me, you can audit classes and sit in on courses,” Shectman said.

“And I said, ‘oh, this is wonderful!’”

Shectman said he audited a class about the Holocaust three times with the same professor because he said the course holds special meaning for him.

“They are very respectful,” Andrews said.

“They always say ‘let me know when we are asking too many questions and we’re talking too much.”

Andrews said people audit the classes because they love history. And Andrews said sometimes auditors take him out to lunch to thank him for letting them sit in on his class.

“They could be at home watching TV, but instead they are here listening to a lecture,” Andrews said.

Andrews and Shectman both said auditing is about a love of learning.

Shectman and Primack are currently looking at classes to audit next semester.

“The first time I went through school, I had to make something of myself and make a living, but now I take classes for the sheer joy of learning,” Shectman said.

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“Also, sports are a passion of mine.”