Why I Took A Class for Pass/Fail

By Maryam Masood July 14, 2020
two people looking at a computer screen

A week or two into the winter 2020 semester, I decided to opt out of receiving a letter grade for the introductory Python course I was taking at the time (SI 106), and instead opt for P/F (pass/fail). (Of course looking back now, it wouldn’t have really mattered if I changed it then given the new grading policies in response to COVID-19.)

At the time, I had been struggling with whether or not it was worth it to take a class for P/F. What if I opted for P/F but ended up with a GPA-boosting grade? What if I decided to take another SI (School of Information) course in the future? I was uneasy with the idea of closing the door to either of these two possibilities, but I had to be honest with myself: the class probably wasn’t going to be an easy A and I wasn’t planning on applying to the major.

It was a little difficult to reconcile with the idea of taking a class for a purpose other than receiving a grade, but looking back, it was the right choice for my schedule at the time. Opting for P/F not only relieved unnecessary stress, but also allowed me to allocate my time more wisely across my classes rather than put all of my efforts into what had been my most challenging course of the semester while half-heartedly approaching the others.

In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with taking a class or two for P/F. Different colleges at U-M allow a varying number of credits that you are allowed to take P/F (for example, LSA allows up to 30, COE up to 14, etc.) And of course, you should always check with your advisor if you are unsure about how this will look on your transcript. But if you're taking a class out of interest with a less-than-satisfactory grade distribution, and no correlation to your major, opting for P/F might be the right decision for you.

edit   change

If you’ve decided to switch one of your classes to P/F, it’s a super simple process. (Again, the timeline for when you can do so varies by the college you’re in.) Just go to your Class Schedule on Wolverine Access and click “Edit.” Once you’ve chosen the class you want to take for P/F, click on the dropdown menu and change “Graded” to “Optional Pass/Fail.” The next page should tell you if your change was approved. And that’s it – you’re officially on your way to...a passing grade!

Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood is a junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies with a minor in Spanish. During the year, she keeps busy as a student employee for CommonGround and Treasurer for the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program. Outside of class and work, she enjoys to travel, procrastinating at the CCRB, and is most likely watching Kim's Convenience or Criminal Minds on Netflix.