Rushing to turn in pass/fail forms to the Registrar’s Office on Monday before the 5 p.m. deadline, students came and went from the fourth floor of the Smith Campus Center, which hummed with activity.
Monday, the start of the 5th week of the spring semester, marked the final day students could switch their grading preferences from letter graded to pass/fail or vice versa. It was also the last day students could choose to add or drop courses from their schedules.
Students offered a variety of reasons for waiting until the very end of the period to change their grading preferences. Joseph G. Lanzillo ’16 offered no contrived excuse.
“I’m indecisive,” Lanzillo said. “I don’t have a good reason.”
Others, however, said they were strategic in their waiting until just before the deadline to switch to pass/fail. Ricky Li ’19 said he waited until the last chance to determine whether he could balance his coursework with his new responsibilities in the Harvard Financial Analysts Club.
“I needed two weeks to test if I can actually handle this schedule, and after two weeks, right before the deadline, I feel like I cannot handle this schedule anymore,” Li said.
You-Myeong Kim ’17 said he used the extra time to his advantage, in his case, to determine whether he could handle the rigors of a class for which he did not meet some of the prerequisites. He will now take his course pass/fail as well.
“I just wanted to see how the material was until I made the decision,” Kim said. “I waited until the last possible moment to see.”
Some students who were adding and dropping classes also said they waited in order to use the add/drop period as a kind of extended shopping week.
“I didn’t think shopping week was enough to decide which classes I wanted to take,” Henry J. Kline ’19, who dropped one of his classes, said. “I couldn’t really get a good sense of a lot of the classes I was shopping, so I picked my top five… [and] figured out what the work was going to be like.”
Both adding and dropping courses and switching grading preferences require consultation with one’s academic adviser. For Raylin F. Xu ’19, who waited until the early hours of Monday morning to begin the process of dropping a course, having an understanding adviser was a must.
“I texted my adviser at like 4:45 this morning to tell her I wanted to drop,” Xu said. The adviser, she said, responded at 6 a.m.