Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ursinus College has instituted a policy for the Spring 2020 semester which allows students to opt into an S/U grading scheme for any or all courses they are currently enrolled in.
Under this policy, students may opt in without adviser approval; however, we strongly encourage students to discuss their decision with advisers and instructors. Included below are frequently asked questions regarding the new S/U policy.
We expect that the stress and dislocation of the COVID-19 pandemic will make it impossible for many students to complete their academic work at the same level they might have if they were on campus. The S/U option is to allow students who are experiencing major disruptions to their living situation, health, or family livelihood to complete the semester without worrying about wrecking their GPA. The S/U option only applies to Ursinus courses you are registered in during the Spring 2020 semester.
You can choose the S/U option for any or all courses that you’re currently enrolled in. If you do, you will receive a grade of S (Satisfactory) for any work that would have normally earned a passing grade (D- or above), and a U (Unsatisfactory) for work that would normally have earned an F. An S will not affect your GPA all, but you will earn full credit for the course. A U will affect your GPA exactly the same as an F (as a zero), and you will not earn credit for the course.
Starting April 13, an online form will be available to allow students to choose the S/U option. You can use this form to choose the S/U option for multiple courses at once.
The deadline for opting in is April 29, 2020.
If you do not opt in before the deadline, you will receive a standard letter grade.
No. It is entirely your decision. However, we encourage you to talk to your adviser about the best choice for your situation. You should also be in contact with your professor so that you know exactly where you stand in the class.
You have until April 29 to make a final decision. After this deadline, no new opt-ins or opt-outs will be accepted without a formal appeal to the Academic Standards and Discipline Committee. Until April 29, you can re-submit the opt-in form as many times as you like.
It’s impossible to know for sure, but probably not. Many colleges and universities around the U.S. have adopted a plan like ours for this semester, and some medical schools have already announced a policy of not penalizing students who take S/U grades during the pandemic. Ursinus plans to include a note with Spring 2020 transcripts explaining the policy. For most schools, an S is equivalent to a C or better, so Ursinus will also ask instructors to track whether students have met that standard so that this information can be included with transcripts if necessary. However, if you are choosing between taking the S/U option in a pre-med requirement class and in an elective, it’s probably smarter to use it for the elective.
First, find out – as accurately as you can – what grade you can expect in the class. If your grades are close to what you would have expected to earn in a normal semester, stick with a letter grade. However, if you think your ability to do your academic work has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and you expect your grades to go down significantly in one or more of your classes, consider choosing the S/U option. Talk it over with your adviser, and use an online GPA calculator (for example: gpacalculator.net) to get a sense of how this semester’s grades will affect your overall GPA. There’s no rush; you have till April 29 to decide.
If you’re taking any of the following courses:
ECON-101, 102, 150
CS-173, 174 or
MATH-110, 111, 112
and planning to continue in B & E, Finance, Math, or Computer Science, check the prerequisites for your higher-level classes. Some of them require that you get a C- or better in one or more or the classes listed here. If you plan to take the S/U option for one of these classes, check with your adviser about how this will affect your ability to move on to higher-level classes in your area.
Similarly, as noted above, if you’re taking a course that’s required for medical school admission or another graduate program, discuss with your adviser whether the S/U option makes sense for your situation.
Instructors will see what option their students have chosen when they enter final grades. We encourage you to discuss it with your professor before making your decision, but you aren’t required to.
If you think your grades this semester will be high enough to get you off Academic Probation, then choose normal letter grading. Otherwise, the same principles apply to you as discussed above. To get off Ac Pro, you need to bring both your cumulative and your semester GPA above 2.0. Use an online GPA calculator to figure out what grades you’ll need for that.