I am currently a graduating senior. The course in question is within my department, but will count as an elective (since I have already met the requirements, I just took this class for the experience). This class ended up being way harder than I anticipated, and online learning turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected. My current overall gpa is a 3.8, and my departmental gpa is a 3.96. I anticipate getting a B in the class, a C+ at the lowest. However, a B or C+ would prevent me from getting cum laude (which I would get otherwise), and would tank my departmental gpa. My question is, will taking this class S/NS be a disaster for PhD program admissions, especially since it is within my department, or will exceptions be made for Spring 2020 given current events? I am weighing the benefits of graduating with cum laude and a high gpa against the damage of having an S/NS grade.

More details as requested:

  • I have to register for S/NS now but can switch back to a letter grade later if I wish. I have access to all my scores so if I end up doing much better than I anticipated I could take the letter grade.
  • The class is only made up of 3 test scores (which are hard and difficult to gauge my performance before getting graded) so my fear is that one of them will tank my average.
  • S/NS means satisfactory / not satisfactory.
  • Do you have to decide now? Maybe you do, but if possible I'd recommend first seeing what grade you actually earned. In my experience, students' guesses are not always reliable. – academic May 15 at 18:11
  • @academic You can't choose S/NS after knowing your grade, since it would be kinda counterproductive. Of course, schools vary in how far into the semester you can pick (especially now), so one might have a better guess later. – Azor Ahai -- he him May 15 at 18:20
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    At my university (a large state university in the US), the policy is explicitly that you are allowed to choose after the end of the semester. This isn't usual policy, just this semester because of Covid-19. (Whether the same is true of OP's university I don't know.) – academic May 15 at 18:31
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    Your country? And what is S/NS? – user111388 May 15 at 18:40
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    Please add a country tag. – Tommi May 18 at 7:51

No one can predict how it will play out as the world of academia, as elsewhere, is in a bit of chaos now. I expect, however, that most people will be understanding of such things. They will need to be, in general, since a few universities are only "grading" students on that basis for now.

But, I doubt that it matters very much which way you jump. Your description of the course indicates it would not be a major determinant of anything in your future. If you take the grade and are asked in the future, I think your description here would be fine, especially if you are doing well in other, more important, courses.

That said, cum laude will be nice to think on thirty years from now.

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  • As you seem to understand the question: Is S/NS the same as fail/pass? – user111388 Jun 19 at 18:21

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