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Comparing Penn State’s Late Drop System To New Spring 2020 Grading Options

Penn State’s alternative grading option has been discussed and praised frequently by administrators and students alike since it was introduced.

The new system allows students to selectively modify their grades at the end of the semester, replacing letter grades with one of three alternative grades — satisfactory (SAT), pass (V), or no grade (Z) depending on their actual score in the course. The policy was introduced to help students handle the challenges of adjusting to Penn State’s remote learning period.

Some students may be wondering about the difference between using the new designation and just late dropping the class, the deadline for which is Friday, April 10 at midnight.

When students late drop a class, it appears as a withdrawal on a student’s transcript/record. Students don’t receive credit for the course, but it will not be factored into GPA calculations. Students must also pay a fee of $6 when they late drop a class.

Under the new grading system, students can wait until the end of the semester to decide whether to switch from letter grading to this year’s additional options and will have approximately one week after final letter grades are posted to decide whether to make the switch. Students will still receive credit for SAT and V grades, and their semester standing won’t be affected. A Z grade, which replaces a failing grade in a course, will be treated as a late-dropped course. SAT, V, and Z grades will also not impact students’ GPA.

Sarah Root, a professor and an advisor in the College of Engineering, said that students should consider dropping courses they know they aren’t going to pass.

“If you know you are not going to pass, you should use the Late Drop. It will free up a lot of mental space in a time where stress is at an all-time high,” Root said. “If you are unsure about if you could raise the grade, or if you feel like you could with a little more work, give it a shot. It doesn’t hurt you either way.”

Late dropping, therefore, allows students to take a course they know they aren’t going to pass off an already jumbled schedule. If the class is potentially passable, students can stick it out and make use of the new grading options if necessary at the end of the semester.

More information on Penn State’s late-drop policy and how to late drop a course can be found here.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a senior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in secondary education and minoring in social justice in education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor", and yes mom, actually doing school work. If you would like to talk about sports or "Survivor", the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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