Taking pass-fail course gives students an option

Rachel Abbey

With the vast amount of classes offered at Kent State, it’s natural that students may be interested in a subject not relevant to their major. One option they can take is the pass-fail option.

“You can take a class you may be interested in but do not have to focus all of your energies in,” said E. Timothy Moore, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The pass-fail option allows students to get credit for taking a course without having it affect their GPA. Professors give grades as the traditional A-F grades, but passing grades of A, B, C and D will be converted to the passing grade, Y, and failing grades will be given a Z. Professors do not know when a student has registered to take a course with the pass-fail option, Moore said.

LER requirements or any classes required for a student’s major or minor cannot be taken using the pass-fail option, Moore said. However, this option does allow students to take courses they might not usually consider, he said.

For example, a student who had a childhood fascination in sea creatures could take a course in oceanography without worrying about his or her capability in the field, Moore said. Students could simply expand their knowledge .

“That’s the beauty of the option,” Moore said.

According to the Kent State handbook, there is a total 12-hour limit, with only one pass-fail course allowed each semester. Moore said the university does not let students “go crazy.”

Another reason students may choose to take a pass-fail course is to gain skills in a subject before moving on to the next level without jeopardizing their GPA, academic adviser Barbara Miller said. For example, if a non-traditional student has been out of school for an extended period of time, he or she may want to review without receiving a normal grade. A student in that position may also choose to audit a course, taking it without receiving a grade or credit hours, Miller said.

Students can register for either of these options through Web for Students under the Change Section Options link, by using the Voice Response Information System to register for a class or by requesting the alternative grading option at the Office of the University Registrar.

Some courses are inherently pass-fail and require no extra step while registering. and don’t count toward the 12-hour limit, Moore said.

Freshman sports management major Mike Bissler has to take three physical education courses for his major, which are only offered as pass-fail. Last semester, Bissler took basketball, and this semester, he’s taking racquetball.

He said coursework for pass-fail courses tends to be easier than for traditional classes.

“Attendance is the biggest thing,” he said.

Despite its easiness, Bissler said he would not take a non-required pass-fail class. If a student works hard and earns an A, the grade on his or her transcript appears as the same passing grade as the “slacker” who received a C, he said.

“If you work harder than other kids, it doesn’t matter,” Bissler said. “It’s kind of pointless.”

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].