P/NP for Fall Quarter 2020 Explained

On Dec. 8, 2020, the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) of UC San Diego Associated Students sent out an email that offers undergraduate students a one-time-only option to retroactively change grading options from Letter to Pass/Not Pass (P/NP) for Fall 2020. The option will be accessible to undergraduate students from Jan. 4 to Jan. 29. 

The registrar sent a message to all UC San Diego students on Jan. 4, linking to a special form built for the purpose. This form will be submitted directly to the Student Senate and Registrar and will not involve departments, programs, or colleges. Additionally, it will not require signatures.

The update from the EPC hasn’t affected many of the available options for the completion of UC San Diego’s most popular majors, though certain departments are still verifying the decision. For example, the Department of Economics has yet to confirm the allowance of P/NP courses in the Fall 2020 quarter but aims to notify all Economics majors by Jan. 4, 2021.

Though the accessibility of the P/NP courses has been drastically improved, many students have already opted to take them for various reasons. The UCSD Guardian interviewed two currently-enrolled students who took P/NP courses last quarter.

Brentney Reynolds, a freshman at Thurgood Marshall College, stated in an interview with TheGuardian that swapping her grading method was the best way to ensure her grades stay sharp.

“I changed my math class to P/NP because I thought that I would get a bad grade based on how the first few weeks were going. Math is not really my strong suit, so I decided to change it to P/NP instead of dropping it completely,” she said.

Echoing this sentiment, Amanda Martilla, another first-year student at Marshall stated that P/NP was the only grading option for first-year discussion seminars. She was pleased to participate in the seminar as it was a low stakes way to get to know her peers.

“I wanted to participate in this seminar because I was interested in the topic; plus, it was a low stakes way to interact with a smaller group of students (only about 18),” Martilla said.

Before deciding to submit their request, students will have to consider multiple factors in their decision. Firstly, students hold all of the responsibility to determine which courses will be accepted towards their major, minor, and/or college general education requirements. Certain courses are always eligible to be P/NP while others that are offered only for letter grades will require waivers to allow Pass grades. The individual departments, programs, and colleges thereof will determine the request’s eligibility after requests are made.

Secondly, opting for the alternative grading option may affect more individual aspects of a student’s profile. To qualify for a Pass, course work must be equivalent to C- or better. A change from a D grade to No Pass will result in a loss of units and thereby allow for a repeat of the course? Increasing Fall 2020 P/NP courses will count toward the 25 percent maximum permitted by UCSD as a whole. Financial Aid packages are also expected to be affected by NP grades.

Artwork courtesy of Angela Liang for The UCSD Guardian.

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