Weekly Thoughts With Westminster Wendy: When to use Pass/Fail

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Dear Westminster Wendy,

How should I decide when to use my pass/fails? I feel like I’m too anal about my grades to even handle taking a class pass/fail?

Thanks Wendy!
-Too Studious Sally


Dear Too Studious Sally,

My advice for you and anyone when it comes to pass/fail classes is to use them sparingly and as a last resort.  Pass/fail classes are a great resource, if used in the correct way.  From my own experience, I can say that I used a pass/fail for a class that was a tier requirement and not towards my major or minor.  It was hard at first to take a class pass/fail, but it allowed me to focus on my major and minor courses, and not to worry about the tier requirement course as much.  However, I will warn you: It can be tricky. A few times for me, it was easy to fall behind in the class or to get the mindset of  “Oh, it is just my pass/fail class so it doesn’t matter.” Do NOT let this happen because if it does, you will end up failing the class.  The option of pass/fail is to relieve stress for students.  It is not a way to ensure a good grade, or a way to allow for slacking off in a class.  When it comes to choosing when to use a pass/fail, it is up to you.  I would suggest using one during a busier or more rigorous semester because it will just ease the academic load.  My last piece of advice is to remember that just because you registered to take the class pass/fail does not mean that you cannot still work hard and do well.  If academics are as important to you as I believe they are from your question, then taking a class pass/fail will not be a lot different than taking it like a normal class.  I hope this helped you Sally and good luck with your classes.

Send me your questions and thoughts Westminster, I’ll be here weekly

~ Westminster Wendy

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