Ah, pass/no pass (referred to as P/NP for the rest of this post). I’ll see if I can make this moderately understandable. Keep in mind that your soon-to-be-assigned academic advisor is an excellent resource when it comes to understanding P/NP.
P/NP is a grading option for classes. The simple version of what P/NP does it that it exempts the class in question from GPA calculations. If you pass the course, you will receive credit. If you do not pass, you will not receive credit. Either way, if you are taking a class P/NP, the course does not affect your GPA.
Things to consider about P/NP:
- You have to have your advisor sign off on a form for the courses you wish to P/NP, which means you’ll talk about your reasoning and where it fits into your academic best interest, too. Your professor will not know if you’re taking the course P/NP.
- If you take a class that is required for your major as P/NP, it usually doesn’t count. Something to chat with your major advisor about, though. When it comes to general graduation requirements, P/NP doesn’t affect your credits (unless you don’t pass).
- If you’re taking a class with regular grading, you can still pass a course with a D-. If taking a course P/NP, then you will have to get a C- or higher to pass. The former is obviously not great for your GPA (plus many majors require a grade above a certain cut-off; usually a C), so you can still technically pass a course without applying for P/NP but it might not be the greatest plan. Again, your advisor is an awesome resource in this situation.
Why folks use P/NP:
- Some courses at Oberlin are automatically P/NP. All ExCo courses fall into this category, and I believe there are some other courses that are always P/NP as well (rhetoric and composition courses come to mind, and I’m sure there are others).
- To quote a student, you may here a phrase like this used as an explanation for declaring P/NP for a course: “This semester I’m taking two tough classes in my major and doing independent research and teaching an ExCo, but I really want to take this awesome elective as well; I’m going to declare P/NP so I can enjoy that course and still stay committed to my other work.”
Hope this helps!
- Ma’ayan Plaut ‘10, Social Media Coordinator