Section: News

Pass/D/Fail deadline hits before classes reach midterms

Pass/D/Fail deadline hits before classes reach midterms

photo by Kristen Huffman

by Regan Hewitt

Since the start of spring semester, the Office of the Registrar has sent out at least five emails containing information about the Pass/D/Fail deadline. For anyone who might still be unaware, the deadline is tomorrow, Feb. 6, at 4:30 p.m.

According to the 2014-2015 course catalog, the Pass/D/Fail option is there “to encourage students to experiment with disciplines … they might not otherwise try.” Essentially, the Pass/D/Fail option allows students to take courses outside their major that will not hurt their academic standing or overall GPA — unless, of course, they fail the class.

If a student passes the class (a C- or higher), a “P” will show up on their transcript and earn them class credit, but it will not affect their GPA. Of the 16 credits required to graduate, students are only allowed to earn up to two credits through the Pass/D/Fail option.

Each individual instructor can determine whether their course will be offered as a Pass/D/Fail option. “Students should always consult with instructors early — it is student responsibility to find out whether the P/D/F option is allowed prior to the P/D/F deadline,” Dean of Academic Advising and Support Hoi Ning Ngai wrote in an email to the Collegian. Both the professor and the student’s advisor are obligated to sign the Pass/D/Fail in order for the student to use it.

The Committee on Academic Standing  determines the Pass/D/Fail deadline and the issue is still brought up from time to time. “[The faculty] have discussions about whether it should be changed,” Registrar Ellen Harbourt, who has worked at the College for 15 years and has never seen the deadline change, said. “However, it’s always four weeks from the beginning of the semester.”

Other colleges in Ohio do not have substantially different deadlines. At other schools, the deadline may depend on whether the college operates on quarters, semesters or trimesters. The College of Wooster allows students to choose a Pass/D/Fail option until six weeks into the semester (approximately Feb. 20 this semester). Oberlin College’s Pass/D/Fail deadline is March 2 for the first module courses, April 6 for full-semester courses and April 27 for second module. Modules, like semesters, block off academic time. Wittenberg University makes students decide in the third week of the semester.

However, bigger universities tend to have longer periods for Pass/D/Fail options. The University of Virginia allows students to consider the option until April 4. Tufts University allows upperclassmen to decide by Feb. 18 but allows freshmen to Pass/Fail classes until April 1. Michigan State University is one of the few schools with an earlier deadline than Kenyon’s, making its students decide “Credit/No Credit” by Jan. 16.

“[The Pass/D/Fail deadline] all depends on what that college’s policies are,” Harbourt said. “Other colleges allow for things that would never happen at Kenyon … but it’s all based on the philosophy of that school.” 

Not many students had complaints about Kenyon’s deadline compared to other schools. In fact, a lot of first years were not even aware that Pass/D/Fail was an option. The majority of Kenyon students never Pass/D/Fail a class, according to the Office of the Registrar. “Typically, it’s used on [quantitative reasoning classes],” Harbourt said.

“I’ve never had a problem with the deadline,” Katherine Goodwin ’15 said. “However, I think that if lots of students are having an issue … [the College] should add more time to add/drop week so that students can get out of classes that they’re not enjoying, rather than just having to pass/fail them.”

Christiana Binkley ’17 said, “If [the College] is going to give you that much time, you shouldn’t be allowed to pass/fail as many classes.”

Students who have a problem with the deadline may petition the College, but those petitions are generally not well-received. “It’s rare that [petitions] pass, except in extenuating circumstances like illness, concussions, etc.,” Harbourt said. “If you want an academic policy changed, you have to talk to faculty members about it because they are the people who make the policy.”


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