Pass or Fail Photo Illustration

Photo Illustration by Jessica Benda / Daily Titan

After Cal State Fullerton offered the credit/no credit grading option for the spring 2020 semester during the transition to online learning, the choice will not be offered this fall semester, according to Provost Carolyn Thomas.

Only some classes offer a credit/no credit grading option which students must select by Dec. 11. This is different from the option that applied to every course in the spring 2020 semester. 

In an email to the Daily Titan, Thomas confirmed that the university wide credit/no credit grading option was off the table moving forward with virtual classes.

Thomas said the reason it was offered last semester was because the university was forced to go virtual in the middle of the semester, while faculty and students knew in May that this semester would be primarily virtual.

“This last spring, students were given increased flexibility to determine which classes they would like to take for a grade and which classes they would like to take for credit/no credit. The reason that this flexibility was provided was because classes shifted in March quite rapidly from being in-person to being virtual because of the pandemic,” Thomas said in the email. “There has been no mid-semester disruption as we saw in March.”

There was nearly no time for students and faculty to adjust to events going on when COVID-19 initially hit. Thomas said that the grading flexibility helped students deal with some of the difficulties they may have experienced, but continuing it this semester could hurt students' grades and benefits.

“Extending the credit/no credit option to this fall could have negative consequences for some students as it can impact financial aid, veterans benefits and athletics eligibility. And students who might want to go on for graduate study could be at a disadvantage were they not to receive letter grades for an extended period of time,” Thomas said.

But some students disagree with the provost’s assessment. AnnaKate Gibson, a second-year political science major, said that she did use the credit/no credit grading option last spring semester and thinks it should have been available again this semester.

“I think we probably should have done it just because times are very stressful right now,” Gibson said. “I am not really shocked that we are not doing it, but I think it would have been a beneficial idea to do it.”

Gibson took a math class last spring semester and did not receive her desired grade, so she used the credit option to keep her GPA up. She added that the expectations would have been different because signing up for online school is not what she signed up for in the first place and not everybody works well with the environment.

Caitlin Dempsey, a second-year communications major, is another CSUF student that used the credit/no credit grading option last spring semester and wishes they had restored it.

“I’d say I’m disappointed but not surprised. It probably would have helped my GPA or maybe change one class to credit/no credit like I did last semester,” Dempsey said. “I kind of expected that would happen since last semester was a more sudden change to online and we expected to be online this semester.”

Like Gibson, the credit/no credit option helped boost Dempsey’s GPA last semester, as it positively affected her.

The spring semester, which will be primarily virtual, will begin the first day of classes on Jan. 23.

This story was updated on Nov. 13 to state that some classes offer a credit/no credit grading option. 

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