In a new provision to grading options for spring quarter, UC Santa Barbara students may now opt for a pass/no pass grade up to the final day of instruction and, depending on the decision of each academic department, may bypass the usual limits on the number of units a student can take pass/not pass that count toward major requirements.
The new policy, which was detailed in an email sent to students on Wednesday, was created to mitigate the impact that the coronavirus could have on academic performance and reduce anxiety among students due to the various devastating impacts of the virus, according to Henning Bohn, divisional chair of UCSB’s Academic Senate.
A pass/no pass (P/NP) grade does not impact a student’s GPA, and if a department opts in to the grading change by April 17, students can take certain courses as P/NP that previously they could take only for letter grades.
Students normally have to decide to have their classes graded P/NP by week seven but can now make the switch anytime up until June 5, the last day of spring quarter instruction.
Students on academic probation cannot take classes P/NP, and veterans using the GI bill may have to repay money to Veteran’s Affairs if they receive an NP grade, the email continued.
In an interview, Bohn expressed concern that students could overlook possible disadvantages that sometimes come with the P/NP grading option.
“I have very, very mixed feelings. Pass/no pass is something that students should only take when it is to their advantage,” Bohn said.
“[Students] should probably talk to an academic advisor first to make sure that it’s a wise choice,” he added, citing the possible repercussions students could face when applying to graduate schools.
Law schools will recalculate NP grades to an “F” letter grade, according to the email, and many graduate schools could hold unfavorable views on P/NP marks.
Graduate schools have a variety of opinions and standards regarding P/NP grades, according to Claudio Campagnari, chair of UCSB’s Department of Physics.
“I think that anybody looking at graduate applications would understand that spring 2020 is a weird time, but who knows?” Campagnari said.
Campagnari is optimistic that the new P/NP policies will help students through the tumultuous changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic but acknowledges that the quarter will likely continue to see more obstacles.
“It’s really going to be a weird quarter,” Campagnari said.
Alli Adam, internal vice president of Associated Students, said she hopes that the new P/NP policy will work to alleviate some of the academic burden placed on students, especially those with tenuous access to the internet.
“Students have been put in unfair situations and I would hate to see it negatively affect anybody’s GPA because they don’t have the proper resources now that remote classes are happening,” Adam said.