Grading options available to students

Elizabeth Polsdofer

Surviving week one of any academic year is an accomplishment in itself. There are new classrooms in new buildings to find, new professors with intimidating rules about what you can and cannot do to pass their class, and awkward conversations to be had as everyone learns to make new friends in each of their classes.

While there are those at Iowa State who aspire to put Hermione Granger to shame this semester, others will struggle with their classes and will be at a loss of what options are available to them in terms of handling their academic woes.

Several students will disappointedly learn this that the last day to drop a class without consequence was last Friday. The information is available to students online if they know how to find it, said Ashlee Richardson, graduate assistant for the Academic Success Center based in Hixson-Lied.

“Without looking into it, I can say students wouldn’t know how to do it, but it’s pretty readily available information — you just have to kind of inquiry about it,” Richardson said. “That’s why students don’t know if they don’t do it before the end of the first week it won’t even be on their record, so it’s usually on their record because they don’t know any better. It’s especially hard for freshmen because I’m sure their orientation program says it, but whether or not they listening, I don’t know.”

“Every student has so many drops per their academic careers, as undergraduate students,” said Diane Rupp, associate registrar for the Office of Registrar. “[Friday] was the last day where you could drop a course and not have it go against that count.”

Students who enter as freshmen are allowed five class drops after the first week their classes start. The number of drops allowed varies by which college the student is attending and at which grade status they enter Iowa State.

If a class is needed and a student is unsure of whether or not they can pass it to their satisfaction, there are additional options they can pursue. Auditing is a way for a student to take a class but to not receive a grade.

Audited classes are factored into tuition, but they do not count toward the number of semester hours a student is taking. For example, a student at Iowa State can take 9 hours of classes that are graded and 3 hours of classes which are audited and not be considered a full-time student.

“An audited course is an individual who sits in on a class, they’re still paying their own tuition for a class, but … they aren’t receiving a grade. They may or may not take the test. It depends on how they want to do that. Normally it does not show up on their transcript that they sat in on the course unless they request it,” Rupp said. “Just to get additional educational background in an area. Some want it as a refresher. Some want it strictly for the educational purposes, but some don’t necessarily want the grade.”

The last day to switch from graded to audited is this Friday. 

Also this Friday is the last day to switch a class from graded to pass/not pass without it counting toward the number of allotted pass/not pass classes a student can take.

“Pass/not pass is a situation where the student voluntarily is electing to do pass/not pass,” Rupp said. “The instructor is not aware that the student has changed from a graded to pass/not pass. As long as they pass the course with a D- or better it would show as a pass on their permanent record.”

Rupp, however, said students should discuss their options with their adviser before making decisions about whether or not to switch their graded class to an audited class or pass/not pass class.

“I don’t ever make that determination,” Rupp said. “I really encourage students to visit with their advisers about what is best for them. … Certainly for some students that are transferring on or going into a graduate degree program needs to understand the effect of a pass/not pass versus a graded section.”

Rupp said starting with an adviser first is a good option for students wishing to change schedules, as adviser signatures are required for class schedule changes in the remainder of the semester.

“For the most part, adviser’s signatures are required so students might as well start out with their adviser, get their information down, and their adviser’s signature down and then go around and get their instructor’s signatures so that when they bring their slip in it’s fully filled out,” Rupp said. “We have a really great seasoned staff so they can get through here fairly quick. It’s making sure they understand what all the signatures are they need starting on Monday.”