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2011 Spring Issue 4 (April 29, 2011)

S/Cr/NC policy change not in students’ best interests

April 29, 2011
By Gracie Ogilby

To say that math has never been my strong suit is an understatement. Nevertheless, I decided to take Calculus II my freshman year. I pre-scrunched the class during the first week of the term.

The class went poorly.

However, my professor told me that if I did well on a test on the last day of classes, I would receive a decent grade for the term.  I studied hard for a week, leaving the library each night with the 1 AM bell. Despite my efforts, when I walked out of the CMC on the last day of classes I knew that I hadn’t done well on the test. I promptly walked over to the basement of Laird and activated the S/Cr/NC option for my Calc II class.

Under the new S/Cr/NC policy proposed by the ECC, students will no longer be able to do what I did in Calc II. Instead, before the end of 7th week, they must go to their professor who must sign a card in order to activate the S/Cr/NC.

Here’s a crucial flaw with this new policy: many students don’t know by the end of 7th week whether or not they want to scrunch a class because they receive so much important feedback during the 9th and 10th weeks of the term. Moving the S/Cr/NC deadline forward requires students to make their decisions with incomplete information. 

Few students activate a S/Cr/NC if they can help it because some graduate schools re-calculate your GPA with classes designated “S” as the lowest possible passing grade. Consequently, for the duration of a term students try their best to earn a grade that pleases them. If a student can’t get that grade, at the end of term he or she will activate the S/Cr/NC.

What would happen if students had to scrunch by 7th week? Let’s be honest- few students will spend a week studying for their Calc II final exam. For students who chose to scrunch, the 10-week term becomes less important than the 7-week S/Cr/NC period. In fact, by requiring students to activate a S/Cr/NC by 7th week, the new policy creates a disincentive in the final weeks of term for students to work as hard as they might otherwise. That doesn’t sound like encouraging the “exploration into unfamiliar, risky areas of the curriculum” that the S/Cr/NC policy is designed to promote.

Many members of Carleton’s faculty have voiced concerns with the current S/Cr/NC policy. These faculty members and members of the ECC have brought forth several excellent options for improving the S/Cr/NC policy, such as eliminating pre-scrunching. However, by changing the S/Cr/NC deadline to 7th week, the ECC is supporting a policy change that is not in Carleton students’ best interests.

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