[FUN_Mail] New P/F Options and Advice for Students Considering Grad School

Wee, Beth E bwee at tulane.edu
Mon Mar 30 12:43:14 EDT 2020

Our university (Tulane) has adopted a similar policy. However, our Registrar told me that the original letter grade will be kept permanently, so the student could get it to submit for graduate/med school, etc. applications.
Everyone will know that Spring 2020 is a weird semester, so I would hope that there is a bit of forgiveness for this semester grades. In the case you mentioned, I would suggest that the student take the Pass, and if the programs to which she is applying ask for the real letter grade, if your university has that, she could send it. Again, I would hope grad committees would not stress about one semester’s grades.

From: FUN_Mail [mailto:fun_mail-bounces at lists.funfaculty.org] On Behalf Of Korey, Christopher A
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2020 10:24 AM
To: Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Mailing List <fun_mail at lists.funfaculty.org>
Subject: [FUN_Mail] New P/F Options and Advice for Students Considering Grad School

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Dar Colleagues,

I hope this finds you all safe and healthy in these unusual times. I am sending this message to gather some advice about how to best advise students considering graduate school in the context of COVID-19 P/F policies for this semester. Our institution has created a policy that will allow students to choose a Pass (A to D-) or No Pass (F and WA – excessive absences) once grades have been posted for the semester. The student will receive course credit toward graduation and major requirements, but the grade is not factored into their GPA.

This is entirely the student’s choice and they can pick and choose individual courses. Faculty will grade their courses as they normally would and post letter grades.  There will also be a transcript notation for this semester highlighting the unusual nature of this semester so that there is a historical record.

I have had several students who are considering graduate school ask me how graduate admissions committees will view the choice to take a Pass rather than the letter grade. For example, a student is likely to earn a C in Cell Biology and is considering taking the Pass.  Should she do this? Will committees take into account the significant disruption to a student’s ability to learn in the current environment?

I would particularly like to hear from faculty that have schools that have PhD programs. Thanks for responding in this generally stressful and overwhelming time.


Christopher Korey, Ph.D.
Professor | Biology Department
Faculty Affiliate | Women’s and Gender Studies
Faculty Fellow | Center for Academic Performance and Persistence

College of Charleston
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