What is pass/fail?
Just what it sounds like – instead of receiving an A, B, C, D, or F, with points associated with each letter grade to calculate a numerical GPA – a student receives either a P for pass or an F for fail in a class.
Since there are no numerical points associated with a P or an F, classes that are taken pass/fail are NOT calculated/included in the overall GPA, but a student DOES receive commensurate hourly credit for the course taken – provided they pass the class.
When to take a course pass/fail:
When NOT to elect for pass/fail:
It is understandable in these times of extreme, unprecedented stress and uncertainty to want to take the easy route. We can easily rationalize the “I deserve a break” mentality in these trying times.
And we can also easily turn that mentality into a habit.
But the times won’t be trying forever. Take care of yourself in the present, but keep an eye on the future – it’s out there, I promise!
Focus not so much on letter grades earned, but on material learned. Consider how you are developing and demonstrating your academic character when you constantly look for the shortcut. “All I have to do is exert 60% of the effort and I can take the P and still get credit and my GPA isn’t harmed.” (Or is it, really?)
Think about it – would you want your brain surgeon to have exerted only 60% effort in school? How about your lawyer when you’re in a pickle? What if your teacher is only correct 60% of the time?
Stick-with-it-ness still counts as a reflection of character, even in a pandemic. Taking a course pass/fail should be done only as a positive elective option for students, not taken as a license to coast.