University provides resources for pass/no credit information

Written By Jordyn Hronec

On Friday, March 20, students were first informed in an email from the Office of the President that a decision to “amend the academic grading policy temporarily” in response to having all classes be moved online would be made over the weekend and announced on Monday. On Monday, March 23, students were introduced via email to the new, optional “pass/no credit” option that they could opt-in to at the conclusion of the semester.

In the email correspondence from the Office of the President, the pass/no credit policy was described as “a temporary measure that reflects the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives, work and education.” 

Once faculty post letter grades at the end of the semester, students will have the option to change grades of A, B, C or D to a “pass” and grades of an F to “no credit.” The March 23 email stated that taking the pass or no credit option for a course or multiple courses would not affect students’ overall GPA.

However, according to both an informational YouTube video put together by Assistant Provost, Jonas Prida, as well as a webinar held on Monday, April 6 by Prida and Angelo Gargaro, a Center for Student Success coordinator, there are several pros and cons to weigh when considering when to opt-in for the pass or no credit option.

According to Prida, for students looking to boost their GPAs, taking a pass option would not positively affect grade point average. He also stated that for students looking to attend graduate school, a “pass” grade on a student’s transcript may be interpreted as a “C” grade by the prospective school. 

“Many graduate and professional schools, like law and medical schools, might calculate undergraduate GPA themselves, converting a grade of a ‘P’ to a 2.0, some do not,” Prida said in a YouTube video explaining the pass/no credit option. 

“The number grade, especially if it’s a C roughly, or higher, is always going to work out better for your GPA,” Prida said during the webinar. “A ‘pass’ has no real advantage for the grade point average, it simply means you pass the course and got the credits for it. So if you need a 2.0, for example, to remain eligible for a sport, or if you need a 3.0 for a scholarship, and you’re doing well, you’ve got A’s and B’s, then please take the A’s and B’s, or in the case of a 2.0, take a C.”

For students who are looking to opt-in to the pass/no credit option, Prida stressed that the first step would be to finish the semester. Then, after grades have been posted, students will have from May 1 to May 7 to fill out a form notifying both the Registrar’s Office and the Center for Student Success that they are converting one or more grades to pass or no credit. If students choose not to opt-in to these options, their earned letter grades will remain.

Students, so far, expressed their satisfaction with the communication from the university regarding this potential grading option.

“I think [the pass/no credit option] is very straightforward,” Kasey Newman, a junior education major, said. “However, I was told by another Point Park student that the Duquesne School of Education is not allowing their students to have pass/no credit because the Pennsylvania Department of Education said it doesn’t count for Teacher Certification, which I wonder if this is truly the case because students should be told. I personally am keeping my grades as they stand, and this policy of letting students decide is the fair way to go.”

Kate Griffith, a sophomore cinema production major, said that she believes that the school’s communication efforts would best be suited for answering other questions. 

“My main question is what is Point Park planning on doing to help the student body,” Griffith said. “I don’t really care about pass/fail. I want updates on proration of housing and to talk about why my tuition is still the same as if I was at school. As a student, I need answers, and if I’m not getting answers, at least give me a timeline to put me and the other students here at ease.”