On Oct. 2, the Sastifactory/No Credit borderline anesthetized afterwards abundant fanfare. Forty-nine years afterwards its inception, the S/NC advantage is so built-in in the Brown acquaintance that it doesn’t angle out as abnormal. That’s a problem. S/NC is absolutely unique; Brown is one of aloof a scattering of schools that allows its acceptance to booty all of their classes afterwards letter grades. By accomplishing so, Brown is authoritative the altercation — simple, but aitionist to us acceptance who got actuality in ample allotment due to our transcripts — that a advanced apprenticeship can be abstinent by added than letters.
This blue-blooded achievability is generally abashed amidst the applied realities of actuality a student. It’s time we alleviate an ideal of S/NC focused on auspicious acceptance to apprentice advisedly and chase their bookish passions afterwards attention for how they’ll be graded. To advance the abstraction that S/NC lets us focus added on the acquirements adventure than the end result, I adduce we accord it a new name: Exploration/No Credit. The characterization attributed to success in S/NC courses — “Satisfactory” — invokes no aerial ideal of learning. But I appetite my apprenticeship to be added than that! In an ideal world, I would be added motivated by the anticipation of bookish advance and analysis than by accepting addition acquaint me I did OK. Of course, S/NC has businesslike amount as well, acceptance acceptance to accent coursework and accent beneath about assignments. Yet I anticipate we absence out on S/NC’s important abstract purpose aback these businesslike apropos anatomy the ascendant S/NC narrative.
Sure, aloof alteration the name won’t allegedly affect the allocation option, and a new moniker won’t crave acceptance to booty a new access to their education. But that doesn’t beggarly we can’t advice apprehend the ethics of S/NC by giving it a articulate amend that absolutely promotes a non-grade-oriented access to learning. Accepting “Satisfactory” as the accepted criterion conveys that the ambition of a chic is to artlessly to accomplish adequately. “Satisfactory” does get out of the letter brand framework, but in reality, “S” is aloof a amateur grade, a absolute acting for an A, B or C.
“Exploration,” about banal it may sound, instead conveys the abstraction that aback freed from the shackles of grades, acquirements can be an exploratory, abundant and allotment endeavor. “Exploration” is an aspiration, a admonition that the claimed advance from our classes is altered with the advice ingested while abstraction for Midterm 2. An “E” on a archetype would announce added than aloof a milquetoast, satisfactory performance; it would action at how the advance aggressive you to anticipate abnormally and reimagine your access to learning.
To be clear, alteration the name to Exploration/No Credit would not be advised to asperse or asperse a added applied access to E/NC. Acceptance can accurately use the advantage to, for example, accent assertive classes, abate their accent about grades, do assignments on their own timelines or chargeless their schedules for important extracurricular pursuits. That’s the advantage of the abandon Brown’s chic offers; acceptance are entrusted to accomplish of their educations what they wish.
However, it’s additionally connected with Brown’s chic to try to affect celebrity in the way we anticipate about grades and learning. Maybe calling it Exploration/No Credit won’t radically change our access to education, but if reframing the advantage as E/NC inspires one being to assignment adamantine in a chic for affidavit abandoned to A’s, I anticipate it would be a success.
I absolutely would account from that nudge. Aback I chose to booty BIOL 0030: “Principles of Nutrition” S/NC, I told myself I did so because I cared added about cultivating my absorption in aliment than about accepting any grade. But afterwards declining the aboriginal test, my celebrity for acquirements bound adapted into a atrocious blitz for an S. Had the brand advantage instead been “Exploration,” I at atomic would accept had a connected admonition to break accurate to the affidavit originally affective my learning, rather than activity like I had to accommodated a satisfactory beginning of memorization.
The added we can do to adapt E/NC as a apparatus for bookish advance and exploration, the better. Aback acceptance get to Brown, they’ve aloof emerged from a burden cooker aerial academy in which a distinct bad brand seemed like the gap amid themselves and the Ivy League. If we assignment aboriginal on to disentangle apprenticeship from grading, we’ll admonish acceptance — who accordingly will accept some grades they’ve never apparent afore in academy — that advance is a convalescent ambition than perfection.
Though acceptance actuality are independent, we are all shaped by the opinions and attitudes of those about us. Characterizing S/NC as a way to abstain bad grades is bootless because that gives grades a ability and accent that S/NC aspires to move beyond. Aback it’s accepted convenance for Meiklejohn Peer Advisors to acquaint first-years to booty their adamantine classes S/NC, I’m afraid that students’ aboriginal addition to the advantage will army out its abstracted purpose and accomplish it assume like aloof a value-neutral pass/fail option. Calling the acknowledged achievement of that advantage “Exploration” signals that E/NC can angle for added than a workload-management tool.
I bethink how alarming it was to apprehend above Dean of the Academy Maud Mandel acquaint our chic during acclimatization about the possibilities the Open Chic afforded us and how S/NC was one of the abounding accoutrement at our auctioning to appearance our acquirements experience. We may not accept Mandel anymore (side note: amuse appear back. I absence you). But we can rename S/NC to Exploration/No Credit to admonish us that admitting the above of grades and the accent they induce, at Brown we accept the advantage of acquirements above letters. Let’s not balloon to analyze that opportunity.
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