Bowdoin’s Credit/D/Fail (Cr/D/F) policy, which has not been amended since 2009, is once again up for debate. Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) carries a proposal to push back the Cr/D/F deadline from the sixth to the ninth week of classes, and the Recording Committee is open to consideration of the matter.
The Office of the Registrar did not give the Orient exact data on how many students take advantage of the policy, but Bowdoin currently allows students to take four classes Cr/D/F throughout their Bowdoin career. Students have until the end of the sixth week of classes to decide whether or not to take the class for credit.
The policy was amended in 2004, when the grading of courses was changed from Credit/Fail to Credit/D/Fail, and again in 2009, when it was decided that students could not fulfill their distribution requirements with classes graded C/D/F.
“Credit/D/Fail is for exploration beyond those areas of the curriculum that we of the faculty have identified as crucial,” said Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd. She noted that giving students the opportunity to “explore an area and engage in it in a different way than they do in other courses” is one of the advantages of the option.
In pushing back the deadline, BSG hopes to give students more time to decide whether or not to take a course Cr/D/F.
“The biggest problem from students’ perspective was the deadline falling before students received meaningful feedback in a course,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Jordan Goldberg ’14.
BSG will be working with the Recording Committee as it moves forward on its exploration of the issue and decides whether a change to the current deadline is possible or prudent.
Goldberg argued that changing the deadline would be the best way to ensure that the policy is as effective as possible.
“I think there’s some dissatisfaction about the deadline not serving students as well as it could,” said Goldberg, “[But]I don’t think it’s a widespread thing. Most Bowdoin students are pretty happy with the current deadline.”
Although many Bowdoin students seem content with the current state of the Cr/D/F policy, some agree with Goldberg that a later deadline would be beneficial.
“For several of my classes this semester, I hadn’t gotten an assessment back by the time of the deadline,” said Katherine Churchill ’16.
Churchill had previously chosen to take a class Cr/D/F after she placed into a level that she was not comfortable with and was unable to switch into a lower-level class.
“I would totally do it again,” she said. “It really lightens your workload if it’s a class you don’t have to take for a requirement.”
Other students echoed the sentiment that taking a course with the simplified grading option helped them manage their time better. Pete Edmunds ’14 opted to take a class Cr/D/F for the first time this semester.
“I just wanted to do it so that I could have more time to focus on my other classes, finding a job and athletics,” he said.
Edmunds found that one of the benefits of the Cr/D/F policy is that it gives students the ability to “learn for the sake of learning.”
That said, for others the option is primarily used to preserve GPAs.
Some students also used the policy after receiving grades that they were unhappy with. Keith Chiarello ’16 decided to take a class Credit/D/Fail last semester after doing poorly on the first test.
“I didn’t feel the effort to bring my grade up to a respectable one was worth it,” he said. “I was happy with the decision because I was able to receive a credit with much less energy than I would have otherwise devoted.”
Chiarello also had a positive view of Bowdoin’s Cr/D/F policy, saying that it “allows [students] greater flexibility in classes they might otherwise have dropped.”
Correction, Friday, November 8, 10:08 a.m.: The article previously stated that the Recording Committee was working with BSG on a proposal; it has been updated to show that BSG has this proposal and the Committee is open to consideration of the policy.