Change in Withdrawal from Class Policy for Fall 2020
This has been a very difficult semester for our students, many of whom are struggling with issues relating to the pandemic while trying to succeed in unfamiliar course modalities. In light of these concerns, the deadline to withdraw has been extended to the last day of class for Fall 2020. If you are a financial aid student, please check with financial aid to understand the possible implications of withdrawal. Please note that the deadline for receiving a refund has passed and no refunds will be issued.
The emergency P/NC policy will NOT be extended beyond Spring 2020 semester.
It is important for everyone to understand why this decision was made, so here are some questions and answers that might help to explain.
Q: Fall 2020 has been a difficult semester for everyone. Why can’t we extend the P/NC policy?
A: Courses with P/NC grades, as opposed to traditional letter grades, will not transfer. There is no doubt that this semester has been far from normal, but it would be a disservice to the many students who plan to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to assign grades that will render their courses useless. Since the majority of our students are transfer-bound, switching to a P/NC system would be detrimental to their future success.
Q: Some four-year colleges and universities have extended their P/F or P/NC policies. If they can do it, why can’t we?
A: Institutions that expect their students to complete their four-year degrees with them have much more flexibility in their grading systems. If their students do not normally transfer, they only have to worry about accepting their own credits, which of course they do. For RVCC, and almost all other community colleges, the need to offer courses (and grades) that transfer is central to our mission. In fact, relatively few four-year colleges have extended their P/F or P/NC grading policies, and none of our top transfer partners have done so.
Q: If it was okay to use P/NC in the spring, why is it not okay now? The pandemic is still going on, and the new modalities are difficult for many students and faculty.
A: The decision of many, many institutions to offer P/F or P/NC in the spring—and to accept those grades in transfer for that semester—was based primarily on the need for the mid-semester change in modality from on-campus classes to remote or online classes. Everyone recognized that students were suddenly forced to learn in a format that was not of their choosing and that many faculty had never taught in the new formats. Fall 2020 is different in that faculty were able to prepare for the new modalities in advance and students knew that they were registering for remote or online courses. The situation is still not ideal, but it is not the kind of emergency we were confronting last spring.
Q: Even if P/NC grades won’t transfer, why can’t they be a choice for those who don’t care about transfer?
A: There are many reasons we can’t have a split system: Some students may not care about transfer, but would have to pay back financial aid if they earned an NC grade. Other students will change their minds in the future about wanting to transfer, and it’s important that all of their courses are eligible. Offering P/NC in the fall was a strain on our technical systems, as modifications had to be made in order to make these new grades an option, and tracking who wanted what grading plan was far from simple. Finally, when the pandemic is over, we want the GPAs that appear on RVCC student transcripts to reflect the same standards we have always had, as this builds trust with our transfer partners that our students are well-prepared and worthy of admission.
My deep appreciation goes out to all students, faculty, and staff who have worked so hard this semester to continue learning, teaching, and growing. If it were possible to extend the P/NC without ultimately hurting the students we are trying help, we would not hesitate. Since it is not possible, please know that we are here to support our students through advising, counseling, tutoring, and other avenues of virtual engagement.