Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic raging throughout the world, universities across North Carolina have begun to allow their students the option to make their classes pass/fail instead of having a typical letter grade. UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University have recently implemented this plan where students can choose whether or not they would like to change a specific course to pass/fail. A "pass" will not be reflected in a student’s GPA.
UNC Charlotte students received the news on March 26 from Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Joan F. Lorden. The method that UNC Charlotte is implementing allows for students to decide whether or not they would like to use the pass/fail option or stay with the normal grading system (A, B, C, D, F). Students will have until June 1, 2020 to decide whether or not they will go for the pass/fail option.
Many UNC Charlotte students signed a Change.org petition that was started on March 17 by Hunter Bailey and has since gained 10,593 signatories with an original goal of 10,000. The petition highlighted the fact that many students and faculty have found the online format difficult, especially as some students do not have access to a reliable internet connection. As stated in the petition, “Classes in which participation is weighed heavily would be difficult to grade just considering the first half of the semester.”
Different timezones can also complicate online classes for out of state students. If a student goes back home to California and has a lecture scheduled at 9 a.m. EST, then their class starts at 6 a.m. PST.
Many students have had to deal with major changes from COVID-19 in academics as well as in planning for their futures. When asked about the impact of the pass/fail option, Sidrah Marotti, President of the Model United Nations club and current senior stated, “Some of my classes are running just as smoothly as they did in person, while other professors still take 30 minutes of class time to unmute themselves. We really need flexibility. I am curious how the pass/fail designation will look to grad schools. If they see a few As and a few passes from this semester, will they look down on the passes or will they not even notice?”
The concern over graduate schools and their considerations for the pass/fail option has been on the minds of many students as such a scenario has never occurred before. There is currently not enough information on how graduate schools would perceive a pass but students are hoping they would take into consideration how difficult these times are.