Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 28, 2020
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EDA INCEKARA/PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Though summer courses will be online this year, they not be graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

In an email to the student body on Thursday, April 16, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Jessie Martin announced that all summer classes will take place online. Courses provided by the Whiting School of Engineering in the first and second summer terms will also be online, with the exception of Gateway Computing, for which a decision has yet to be made. 

The announcement followed a broadcast earlier in April, which cancelled all in-person events on campus through June 30 due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In her email, Martin assured students that faculty members will be trained by instructional designers on how to best utilize remote-learning resources and design effective online classes. Martin added, however, that summer courses will be graded according to the standard letter scale and, unlike the spring, will not adopt a S/U grading policy.

Freshman Emi Ochoa was disappointed by the thought of enrolling in online summer courses, specifically because she is not enjoying this semester’s remote-learning.  

“Online classes are much harder than I thought they would be,” Ochoa said in an interview with The News-Letter. “When Hopkins announced that it was going online for the spring semester, everyone thought that it would be really easy, like a total vacation. Now that we’re actually in it, no one likes it.” 

Senior Pavan Patel noted that the choice makes sense from a public health standpoint. He added that students may be more comfortable taking online classes because they have already experienced remote learning this semester.

“It’s definitely the right thing to do,” he said in an interview with The News-Letter. “Compared to the spring semester, an advantage that students have is the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not they will be able to master [online] material.”

Freshman Amy Mistri was not expecting summer courses to be offered in-person. The pandemic has already thwarted some of her other summer plans.

“I was also planning on getting some volunteering done or maybe finding research or shadowing positions while I was in Baltimore for classes,“ Mistri said. “Of course, that part of my summer plans changed.” 

Freshman Prianca Nadkarni was surprised that the University is offering online classes for the summer. She was initially expecting the administration to cancel them altogether. 

“I was still looking around trying to find things, but as a pre-med student, it was hard to find something that didn’t immediately tell me no because of the coronavirus,” Nadkarni said. “I was kind of worried about taking [Organic Chemistry] online because I’ve been told that [medical] schools don’t like it, but after talking to my academic advisor, I realized this whole period of time would be pandemic-labeled so it should be fine.”

Ochoa said she believes that a S/U grading policy would be preferable for summer courses. However, she said that she understands why the University chose to revert back to standard letter grading, given that there is much more notice for summer courses going online than for spring semester courses. 

Likewise, Mistri noted that students can choose whether or not to take advantage of the online course offerings, depending on their individual situations. 

“I thought universal pass/fail was a good option for this semester because of the sudden shift and not everyone was expecting that going into it. But for summer classes, we are all willingly signing up for them,” Mistri said. 

Nadkarni added that she was glad the University chose to use the letter grading scale because of her view of letter grades as an important aspect of a strong graduate school application. 

According to Martin’s email, tuition for online summer courses will be the same as it would have been for in-person summer classes. The University, however, extended the deadline to apply for financial aid to April 20. 

Ochoa argued that online classes should be offered at lower tuition costs, citing a lack of access to on-campus resources and what she believes to be a reduction in class quality.

Mistri explained that classes that include a lot of writing and problem solving, like Organic Chemistry, would be made more challenging without access to in-person office hours.

While Patel noted that the University must charge some level of tuition for online classes, he questioned whether tuition needed to remain at its full rate even throughout the coronavirus epidemic. 

“The University needs to have revenue coming in to pay its staff, but the question is: What percentage of tuition fees goes towards that?” he said.

Additionally, without in-person classes over the summer, Patel claimed that students would have a harder time subletting their off-campus apartments, which could create a sizable financial burden for some students.   

On the whole, however, Patel is glad that online courses have been moved to online rather than being cancelled altogether. 

“Certain students need to continue their education so they can stick to the timeline they have for their career,” he said. “I’m hopeful that the professors will continue to adapt, and I think that with more time the professors will get even better at remote instruction.” 

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