Auburn University’s option to allow for satisfactory or unsatisfactory grading is leaving students with mixed feelings. Provost Bill Hardgrave stated on March 20 that students may decide to leave their grades in the traditional format or switch to the alternate system.
Further announcements regarding this grading policy have continually been released, adding more distinctions to the pass/fail grading system. These distinctions provide two different forms of passing, SS and SP.
SP denotes grades that would have a received a C or higher in a class. SS denotes grades that would have received a D.
“The two different levels are to help students who must have a C or better to progress while still having the option of using pass/fail,” said Beth Yarborough, director of student services in the College of Science and Mathematics.
Advisors said SS and SP will not be distinguished from one another on students’ transcripts.
"There is always a legend on transcripts for interpretation of grades; however, both grades of SP/SS will be defined as satisfactory" said Janet Moore, director of advising in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "So there will be no distinction on the student’s transcript.”
Several students weighed in on how these policies have affected them.
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Kevin Ogden, senior in mechanical engineering, feels that class has become more difficult online. He stated that office hours are not the same and that it is difficult to collaborate while in different locations.
“The pass/fail system is necessary,” Ogden said. “I am glad that the school is making it optional.”
Many students are still performing their own research regarding how these additional policy modifications may affect their future.
Ogden believes that the policy has been clearly explained for the short term, but not for the long term.
Kristin Shearer, sophomore in biomedical science, said that she does not feel that it is incredibly beneficial for her as a pre-health major.
“If I decided to use SS on a major related class, I would have to retake it the next semester in order to get the credit for professional school,” Shearer said.
Shearer is glad the option is available for students who have had their learning environment disrupted, but she is approaching her coursework with as much effort as she was prior to these changes.
Universities across the country have adopted similar policies to Auburn’s system. Moore encourages students to seek guidance from institutions that they are interested in attending to determine how converting grades will affect their applications.
After students commit to using a pass/fail grade for a course, they will not be able to change the course grade back to a traditional letter grade.
Students must meet with their advisor at the completion of the semester to switch grades to pass/fail; however, students will still have the ultimate say in this decision. Students have until June 1 to determine whether they would like to convert grades to pass/fail. Graduating students must decide prior to degrees being conferred.
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