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Oklahoma Christian University begins offering Pass/No Pass

With online schooling becoming the new norm for students and professors, Oklahoma Christian University has decided to allow students to take their classes as pass/no pass, meaning there will be no letter grade assigned and it will not affect GPA. You either pass, or you do not.

The Talon interviewed Chief Academic Officer Scott LaMascus about this new grading system being offered.

What made the school go to pass fail?

Emergency times call for emergency measures, so we have opted to give students—online from New Zealand to Seattle, New York to Sao Paulo—the choice of P/NP grading course by course. I trust students and their faculty advisors to use this flexibility to do what works best.

So, in making this decision, we consulted with deans, faculty, Faculty Association and academic leaders from across the U.S. at other Christian universities in the CCCU. Universities from Harvard to major state campuses are using some form of an “asterisk term,” though each university’s policies differ.

(There is) guidance on OC’s COVID-19 page, which gives a much fuller context for the why of this asterisk semester at OC.

Will taking pass/fail hurt a student’s chances when applying to graduate school?

A “pass” in Spring 2020 on a transcript will be understood universally as a response to COVID-19—it is a global pandemic, not a local quarantine known only to a few. So, we’re putting the choice in the hands of students, who wisely will consult their OC faculty advisor.  Each of those advisors knows the implications for each profession—a P in a medical school prerequisite. I highly recommend against it and have heard my faculty colleagues are saying this, too.  And OC has advisors for NCAA eligibility for our scholar-athletes, a VA advisor for veterans and so on. Ask those great OC folks if you have questions.

 Would you recommend a student take pass/fail?  

I recommend every student press through to the strongest possible finish of every course this term. Stay in close communication with your faculty advisor about whether the P/NP choice is right for you on one or more courses. Frankly, that’s much like the advice I give every semester—don’t stop running before the finish line and talk to your faculty.

God hasn’t promised us that circumstances won’t change, sometimes even radically and unexpectedly, as we all are experiencing dizzying change in some ways. But many things have not changed during this COVID-19 response period, such as the genuine care and deep relationships at OC. And God’s promises do assure us that we will have the strength to do what we need. OC faculty are in great connectivity, so please reach out to them. And at OC, every student can count on a virtual office visit with a faculty member who truly knows them and cares for them.

Will taking pass/fail affect a student’s chances at receiving awards (cum laude, Honors etc.) at graduation?

GPA calculation rules at OC have not changed. Many students, probably including those who aimed at graduating with honors such as cum laude, will want to consider the impact of a P/NP choice. Again, talk to your faculty advisor.

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