Assistant Dean for Academic Advising Jessie Martin sent reminders to the student body regarding grading policy and online learning resources for the fall semester in an email on August 28.
As previously announced on the University website, the default grading for the fall will be satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) with the choice to opt-in letter grades. However, the deadline to opt-in for letter grades is now Jan. 10, which has been extended from the initial Dec. 7 deadline.
“This means that students will be able to see their grades and then choose whether or not they want to keep those grades or to change them to S/U grades. Students will get to make individual choices for each individual grade,” Martin wrote in her email.
The University is currently setting up a database of Zoom links from professors, which is to be released on the first day of classes, in order to facilitate the add/drop period. The last day to add and drop courses are on Sept. 11 and Oct. 11, respectively.
Junior Ryan O’Connor, a First-Generation, Limited-Income (FLI) student, stated that he anticipates challenges with online learning and supports the University’s chosen grading policy for the fall.
“I was happy to see them announce it because I honestly thought they would just have normal grading. Since it starts as S/U, I don't have the pressure of having to switch to it if my grades start to suffer from online learning, but in case I do exceptionally well in any of the classes, I have the option to switch later,” O’Connor said.
However, junior Abigail Flores, member of the I’m First student organization, noted that she feels more pressured now to opt-in for letter grades since the option is present.
“Pass/Fail worked last semester and the pressure of grades was not there, allowing for more flexibility and self-care from all of us,” Flores wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “However, I’m glad that I will be able to see my grades before choosing whether to opt in or not.”
In her email, Martin also announced that, while the Krieger Computer Labs will be closed, the University is offering a one-time grant or loan of up to $2,000 for students to purchase a new computer.
Senior Alice Yang, an FLI student, noted that while the computer aid offered may help students obtain a computer, students will still face additional issues associated with online learning, including disparities in internet connection, time zones and other technical problems.
“If students’ internets don’t have the necessary bandwidth, it can not only make synchronous lectures, office hours and discussion sections with peers difficult but also make asynchronous lectures inaccessible too,” Yang wrote. “The FAQ site only states that financial aid is available but does not guarantee how much is available for each student.”
Flores said that she anticipates differing time zones to complicate not only her schoolwork but also club meetings and other extracurricular responsibilities.
“It’s not the ideal situation not being back on campus, but we all have to take up the challenges presented so we can all be back together safely soon,” Flores wrote.
The Office of Academic Advising will be hosting virtual drop-in meetings throughout the fall semester for students to ask questions related to any academic concerns. The meetings will be available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the first two weeks of the semester. From Sept. 14 onward, the virtual drop-in meetings will remain available every Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Students in need of additional financial aid resources can appeal through the Budget Revision Form.