Indiana State has recently added the option of “S/U” grading in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This option is available to all students from April 6 until the May 1 deadline.

“You will have the chance to choose if you would like a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade at the end of the Spring semester or letter grades, it is up to you,” said ISU president Deborah Curtis in the March 27 announcement to students.

S/U grading allows students to change their class grading from the standard A through F grading to “Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory.” At the end of the semester if the class is “satisfactory,” then the student will get credit for the class taken, but the grade received will not be factored into the student’s grade point average. On the other hand, if the class is “unsatisfactory,” then the student received a failing grade and will still have to retake the class, but the grade itself will not be factored into the student’s grade point average.

In an email addressed to the College of Health and Human Services, it was stated, “This option comes as a result of the change from face-to-face to all-online classes.  ISU recognizes that for many students this has been a stressful transition on top of other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Indiana State University had their students in mind when coming up with this decision. James Gustafson, Associate Professor in the Department of History, said it’s the students that really influenced this idea.

“This actually came from students in the way that there were a lot of anxieties and things that were expressed to faculty about moving online, and the faculty then took those concerns of students to the administration, and we were able to work this out with him to try and find a solution that was good for everyone,” said Gustafson.

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unforeseen event that affected both student and staff situations. “Midway through the semester something happened and it was shocking for faculty, it was shocking for students and people had to try to adjust and we didn't want to be penalizing students for a situation that was completely out of their control and that they really had it signed up for,” said Gustafson.

The goal of the online class transition was to make it as easy and painless as possible for the students. “For students who are doing really well in their classes throughout the semester and they're able to hold up through this transition, we don't want to penalize those students so we don't want that earned grade to go away,” Gustafson said. “At the same time, there's also a lot of students who are doing pretty well in the B or C range and they're holding on, but all of a sudden they're back home and they're helping take care of things with their family. Or maybe they're working to try to make ends meet or pay rent because they've been kicked out of the dorms or whatever might be going on, we don't want to derail those students.”

There are some exceptions to this policy. This S/U grading can be applied to all classes, even ones that are necessary to complete for credit towards a student’s major or those that students need to attain a certain grade to get credit for it. Students should consult with their advisor about specific classes.

“No classes are exempt; however, students need to understand the implications of selecting the S/U grading option… Students should not choose the S/U grading option for courses that require an A-F letter grade. For example, nursing students need letter grades in all courses because the nursing department determines admission based on a calculation of all grades earned,” said Inclusive Excellence Coordinator of University College Hope Williams.

Certain majors and programs have different requirements.

“With nursing, for instance, there's a lot of classes that you have to have at least get a C in for it to count towards your program. So, for students who are taking courses that require certain grades, then they should not have those courses as unsatisfactory satisfactory grading,” said Gustafson.

To find out which classes this policy can be applied to, it’s advised by president Curtis that students contact their advisor for individual cases.

“Of course, your greatest resource for making the decision about your grade is your advisors. Get in touch with your advisor and talk through what makes sense for you. We want you to finish strong this spring and we think that this is a great opportunity for you to make those decisions,” said Curtis.

Students’ advisors are the ones who will help students decide if they should switch classes to the new grading system. There are many reasons why students may choose to make the switch.

“Any student who is improving their grade in a specific course but is concerned about passing that particular course [may want to choose this option]. They should speak with their advisor and instructor before selecting S/U grading,” said Williams.

There seems to be some confusion throughout the student body about the policy but those who have done some research tend to favor the idea.

“It’s definitely going to help those who are struggling in their classes to keep and stay on track for graduating,” said sophomore Computer Engineering Technology major, Jalen Mallory.

However, students still have to choose to change their classes to the new S/U grading and can do so by getting in touch with their advisor.

“Really, this is about making sure that we're taking care of our students in a challenging moment. We don't want something like this to hold them back,” said Gustafson.

For additional questions and information, go to the Indiana State University webpage: https://www.indstate.edu/academic-affairs