Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 19, 2020

How to deal with the end of covered grades

By GILLIAN LELCHUK | January 29, 2015

Ah, spring! When the snow melts, the trees grow back their green, and freshmen learn to be accountable for their academic successes and failures: no more covered grades.

As spring semester gets underway, the pressure builds because we are no longer the privileged new students. We are no longer the University’s brightest and most competitive class yet — that title falls into the hands of the fetuses in the class of 2019. So then, who are we now, the class of 2018?

We’re just like all the other kids now, but with none of the perks of being an upperclassman. We’re still branded with the eternally condescending term of our grade, and now we have to worry about our GPAs, too?

That’s not to say that plenty of freshmen didn’t work hard this fall. Plenty of freshmen found their homes amidst the stacks on D Level, or gazing out the stained glass windows in the Hut, or hunched over their desks in their dorm rooms. Plenty of freshmen wondered if their grades could be uncovered because they might even inflate their GPAs. These are not the people who need to worry about the spring.

The people who should worry are those who slept through their 9 a.m. classes everyday, some days even their 10 a.m.’s. The people who should worry are those who celebrated Thirsty Thursday like it was a religious holiday, those who shouted “hashtag covered grades” into the night, those who played FIFA instead of reading up on chemistry or history or biology or whatever it was you procrastinated on last semester.

Hopefully, you took advantage of covered grades while you had the chance. Maybe they truly saved you, or maybe they just gave you the confidence to take a class you never would have before. Maybe they were a nice blanket around your shoulders, a reminder that it was okay if you didn’t quite meet your goals. Or maybe you’re just a brilliant, hard-working individual who knew exactly which classes to take, and now you’re actually kind of pissed that the fall semester won’t be included in your GPA.

Well, now the playing field is leveled. As we disembark the ship of covered grades and head onto dry land where our fellow Hopkins students wait, we see our futures, dependent on our performance during our remaining time at this school.

Hard work and better study habits will be our tools for survival now that we’ve left the comfort and safety of the vessel. Maybe we’ll even find a better metaphor. Covered grades truly are a luxury. For many of us, the first semester was definitely a transition period. We worked hard in high school, sure — how else would we have gotten here? But high school is different. High school is tedious, it’s repetitive, and it doesn’t always require the level of thinking that is a staple at Hopkins. At Hopkins, no one is going to hold your hand.

So now, we’re just like everyone else. Our grades matter. We have to study, do our homework and go to class. While we all wish that covered grades could last just one more semester, maybe it’s better that they don’t. If covered grades spanned the entire freshman year, we would all grow far too comfortable with our pass/fail transcripts.

Maybe it’s a good thing that covered grades are fleeting. Without them, we’re thrust into the real world — well, as close to the real world as you can get here in the Hopkins bubble. Having covered grades afforded us the opportunity to learn how to work in college, how to fail, how to excel, how to manage our schedules without the calendars our parents kept on their refrigerators. And now, not having covered grades will teach us how to work for ourselves. We’ll learn which subjects we’re just really not good at and which ones we could succeed in if we put in the effort.

Really, freshmen, we should all be grateful for the little bit of wiggle room covered grades afforded us. While we’re sad to see them go, we know it’s time. We know we can’t let them cradle us forever. And we should feel pretty special, since we’re the last ones to have them, right

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