Pass/Fail Option Presents Positives and Negatives


Courtesy of One Blue

The pass/fail option was meant to accomodate the varied circumstances many students have been facing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UM-Flint has offered all students an opportunity to  switch any of their courses to pass/fail. By doing so, the university is providing an option to avoid being punished for any bad grades due to the outbreak. 

However, students may be unaware about what exactly a pass/fail option means for their class and whether or not they should elect for it or not.

A class that is elected for a pass/fail grade means all the student has to do is pass the class to get the credit hours for it. The default letter grade assigned will be a C- but it will not affect the student’s GPA and will show up in the transcript as an “S” grade (satisfactory).

While this option may sound enticing for many students, the positives and drawbacks should be weighed.

If you are currently in a class where your grade will allow you to pass but may cause your GPA to fall, opting for the pass/fail option may be for you. 

For example, if your GPA is 3.7 or higher but you are in a class where your final grade may finish at around a B, electing for a pass/fail grade may be a good option.

Students will be able to elect for the pass/fail option until Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m. However, students will not be able to reverse any of their decisions past midnight on Thursday, April 30. 

This means students will be able to see their final grades beforehand, giving them a chance to decide exactly which classes may be best to switch into a pass/fail grade, especially if a class turns out better than initially expected.  

“We think this option gives students more … flexibility,” said Shelby Newport, the associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies. “Some students need those letter grades for a whole variety of reasons.” 

Some of those reasons include graduate school, financial aid or for club requirements. 

Selecting the Pass/Fail option for one or more courses could have implications and may vary from student to student,” said Karen Arnould, director of the UM-Flint Registrar’s Office.

One of these implications may be when applying to graduate school. Although the pass/fail option may help your GPA by not affecting it negatively, individual graduate schools could evaluate an applicant differently if they were to see a “S” grade instead of a typical letter grade.

“Students who are applying to graduate school should contact the graduate school and ask if a Pass/Fail grade will impact their admissibility to their program,” said Arnould. Additionally, contacting your academic advisor can help with making your decision.

Other implications include impacts on financial aid, such as grade requirements on scholarships. Newport said she highly recommends students with any concerns contact the Office of Financial Aid for help and further clarifications.

Some schools and colleges around campus have also selected certain classes as being not eligible to switch to a pass/fail grade. If one of your classes is not listed on the panel where you request for the switch, that means the class is not eligible. 

As the semester comes to a close, the COVID-19 FAQ on the UM-Flint website will continually be updated with information regarding the pass/fail option and emails from various other administration officials can be expected.