Academic Policies

Academic Standards

Academic Standards

On certain occasions, you may be asked if you are in “good academic standing”. The answer is yes, unless you’re on academic probation. It’s a yes/no question about your overall GPA (2.0 or better) and your performance in the last term (any F’s?), and it’s significant only in certain specific contexts around campus. Falling out of “good standing” leads to academic probation, but could also result in more severe actions like suspension or dismissal. But it’s not the only standard that matters, nor a particularly high standard.

In Georgetown College, academic standards are about more than grades, standing, and pace in the degree. Academic standards create a context for scholarly work we do here together. Along with standards of conduct and integrity, academic standards form important expectations that we agree to hold ourselves and each other to when we join this community. Consequences for falling short are designed to help students turn their own studies in a positive direction, and to support the community’s ability to pursue academic work at our highest potential.

Dismissal

In the rare and dismaying event that a student’s academic performance falls far below our standards, academic dismissal may be called for. Academic dismissal is permanent separation from the university, ending a student’s time at Georgetown and halting all academic and co-curricular activity. The University Bulletin describes the academic trouble that can lead to dismissal.

Because academic dismissal is a permanent step, the College Deans attempt to intervene with students well in advance of such circumstances emerging. Students are responsible for their academic performance and for taking advantage of available support systems. Deans, faculty, and other campus partners assist where possible and aim to form a safety net, of which the students themselves are critical parts.

Dismissal is an outcome no one wants to see. Other forms of academic sanction, while forms of discipline themselves, are chiefly motivated to avoid the necessity of dismissal. However, in some cases we discover together that a different environment, a different set of academic options, or a different kind of institution may be a better fit. In cases when academic performance has simply been too low to responsibly encourage continuing enrollment, dismissal is the regrettable but appropriate outcome.

GPA

Georgetown uses a Quality Points Index (QPI), which is effectively a GPA weighted using the number of credits earned rather than simply classes taken. An A- in a four-credit class affects your average more than the same A- in a three-credit class. Though your Degree Audit calculates your major GPA, that figure is neither official nor public. The cumulative QPI is your only official grade average at Georgetown.

Your GPA is one (and only one) metric of your academic success at Georgetown. A grade marks how you did in a given course in a moment in time, and the GPA is the average of those marks. It’s an indicator of performance, not potential. You should pay attention to your grades for lots of reasons — grad school, med school, fellowships, honors, etc — but most important among those is what your grades say to you about your strengths, interests, and commitments.

Probation

Academic probation is an academic status assigned to any student who earns a grade of F, fails to complete a full-time course load more than once, or has a cumulative GPA below 2.0. Probation is not posted on your academic transcript, as it mainly serves as a signal to you and your academic dean that some additional help and caution may be needed to resume successful academic progress. After a student successfully meets the conditions set by the deans, probationary status is lifted.

Students should take academic probation seriously, but we do not view this status as a penalty. Consequences of being on probation are very few. You should view this as an opportunity to assess, regroup,  and reset your academic goals. Use this time to seek additional support in areas of study you find difficult, or consider if you are taking appropriate courses. We want you to work with your dean to make sure your academic record moves in an upward trajectory and not a further decline.

Suspension

Sometimes a student’s performance drops far enough to warrant a strong corrective response in the form of academic suspension. Academic suspension entails a semester or year away from coursework and away from Georgetown. Each student’s case is handled individually to determine the length of time necessary, but at the end of the required hiatus, the student may return to their studies by way of a brief letter petitioning the deans for readmission.

Suspension is a severe sanction, and we take the decision to suspend very seriously. We expect in turn that students take their suspension term seriously as well, and reflect deeply on what led to the academic difficulty in the first place. However, it is very important to remember that suspension is not dismissal. Suspension is a way to avoid permanent separation from the university by way of a temporary break, and we encourage students to spend that break in a way that is productive, restorative, therapeutic, and clarifying. Suspension is a difficult (and rare) occurrence, but one that is intended to help the student eventually graduate.

Advising

Academic Road Maps

The Academic Road Map (ARM) meeting is a one-on-one conversation between student and dean/advisor to discuss academic interests and goals, review degree requirements, and plot out a non-binding plan for their time at Georgetown. Students will receive an invitation to sign up for an Academic Road Map within their first few weeks at Georgetown.

A common misperception about these meetings is that students need to know exactly what they want to study before signing up. You don’t! Even (and perhaps especially) if you have no idea of what direction you want to head, sign up for an ARM. All new students are, at some level, unsure about what they are doing and where they are going — in the eyes of the College this as a wonderful, enviable condition. Students walk away from the ARM meeting with a non-binding sketch of eight semesters, factoring in possible majors, minors, study abroad experience, and a healthy dose of freedom.

Pre-Law

There is no official “pre-law” curriculum at Georgetown. Students preparing for law school should concentrate on courses that require analytical thinking and clear written expression. The flexibility of the College liberal arts curriculum gives all students ample opportunity to elect courses in areas that can prepare them well for law school. With the increasingly international and technological scope of legal practice today, students with majors in language, cultural studies, and science are often as well prepared for law school and legal careers as those who major in the humanities or social sciences.

Law school admissions focus heavily on grade point averages and LSAT scores. As a result, if you hope to go to law school, you should choose courses that you are interested in and enjoy, because students generally perform better in courses they enjoy.

Should you go to law school? That’s a harder question. Many students set their sights on law school because it provides a simple answer to the age-old question “what are you going to be/do?” And while it’s nice to have an answer to the question, do more than simply fill in the blank. Explore your reasons why you want to pursue law by talking to people, seeking experiences, and reading a lot.

Pre-Health

At Georgetown, pre-medical and pre-dental tracks are not majors, but a set of recommended courses that can be taken by any undergraduate student. This recommended curriculum is intended to satisfy the basic admission requirements for most medical schools and prepare the applicant for the MCAT exam. Medical school admissions focus heavily on GPA, MCAT scores, extracurricular activities (research, clinical, and service experiences), and letters of recommendation. The applications of all Georgetown students applying to medical/dental school are reviewed and rated by the Pre-Medical Recommendation Committee. Pre-medical and Pre-dental advising for all Georgetown undergraduates is located in the College. To learn more about requirements, advising, and related programs like the Early Assurance Program, see the Pre-Health program.

The pre-med track carries connotations of heavy time commitments, stressful exams, hard science, and a generalized angst about grades and performance. To an extent, this is to be expected: Medical schools are rigorous, so preparation for entry should be as well. But it is easy to get swept up in the stress current and lose sight of the important questions you should be asking, namely: Am I enjoying this?

In the College we don’t believe in any strictly pre-professional major. We believe students should be present during the undergraduate experience — not ignoring professional prospects, but taking in all that an undergraduate liberal arts education has to offer. We provide our students with ample opportunities to ensure they are prepared for medical school. But remember to dig deep into the academic opportunities available in the College as well.

Courses and Credits

AP and IB credit

Georgetown generally awards credit for scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams, and scores of 6 or 7 on Higher Level IB exams. However, policies may vary by department, so students should look at the AP/IB section of the Undergraduate Bulletin for the test-specific policies of your catalog (entering) year. You are held to the policies listed for the academic year in which you matriculated at Georgetown.

AP and IB credit count as credits toward your minimum degree requirements. In some cases, they can count toward core, major, or minor requirements. In this way, they can accelerate your degree progress, give you more room for exploration and free electives, or enable you to take a reduced course load in a particularly busy semester (for example, one in which you might be heavily involved in research, or starring in a show, or doing an internship). Students must still be full-time in all semesters (four courses, 12 credits minimum) except for senior spring, in which you can petition to be part-time.

Double-counting Courses

A single course may only count toward one major or minor. When a single course is eligible for two different programs (ex: American History I may count toward the American Studies major or toward a history minor), a student doing both may choose the program to which it will apply. They can then replace it in the other program with a major elective.

Similarly, a single course may only count toward one core requirement. However, core and major requirements overlap frequently, and this is fine. A theology major’s core THEO courses will count for both the core and the major, for example.

The potential for overlap among majors and minors is great, especially as your interests will often coalesce around programs that relate to each other. When these connections exist, good things happen. The “no double-counting” rule preserves flexibility (you choose where to place an overlapping course, and then choose which elective will take its place) while preventing shortcutting.

Electives

An elective is any course you take that doesn’t count toward your core or major. There is no required number of electives or elective credits in the degree. Because your major(s) and core will not occupy all of your degree, your electives help you reach the total number of credits (120) required. One person’s major course is another person’s elective.

Electives are the courses you choose just because they look interesting. Some students will choose to “save” their electives for the end of their degree, rewarding themselves for finishing off what is required. But a better use of your electives is to complement the core, helping you explore your many options right away. Taking electives early gives you the chance to discover a new interest and chart a new academic course while there’s still time to do so. Electives certainly can serve as rewards for seniors, but they’re also essential tools to encourage variety, curiosity, and for early discovery of a new plan.

Independent Study

Internships

The College does not directly award credit for participation in internships. However, we do award credit for courses that combine a student’s internship experience with intellectual reflection. Examples of credit-bearing internship related courses include IDST-315 and MGMT-311, each of which have distinct expectations for participation and for the award of credit. See those course descriptions for more information on conditions of participation.

Internships are opportunities to get exposure to the world of work outside of college. As an intern, you can see what certain industries and organizations are like firsthand, helping you envision what you want to do with your career after graduation. Internships vary wildly: Some are paid and some are volunteer; some are time-intensive and some are less so; some will keep the intern at an observer’s distance and some will involve the intern in work that is central and vital to the operation.

We enthusiastically support the integration of internship experiences into your life as an undergraduate, but we also know how easily the balance can be disrupted. Be cautious about time commitments, commute logistics, and your obligations as a student. Your academic commitments are important, requiring air and time for reflection and absorption. Just because you see 12 hours of space in your weekly calendar doesn’t mean you have 12 hours to intern. Maintain a good balance, which includes free time, study time, time to work, time to work an idea over with a friend, and time to reflect on classes and on careers alike.

Research

Independent research opportunities are available to every student in the College, and we want every student to indulge in the process of discovery and inquiry. Interested students can pursue research options in a number of ways, following some or all of these steps.

1) Students explore research methods through an introductory course to a field of knowledge.

2) Students join with faculty in a research project, serving as research assistants via GUROP.

3) Students propose their own original research projects, seeking summer fellowship funding with the help of faculty partners and the Dean’s Office.

4) Students bring back their summer research and develop this material into a thesis, capstone, or independent project in the senior year.

5) Students use their undergraduate research projects as stepping stones to further research, creative projects, jobs, graduate study, public service, etc.

6) Students continue to ask questions and pursue deeper knowing as key activities in their lives.

The purpose of the University is not the acquisition of knowledge, but the search for deeper knowing. Rather than imagine your education as downloading information or facts, reimagine your education as a process of seeking, questioning, probing, arguing, and creating. The primary responsibilities of faculty are to research, teach, and guide students. The primary responsibilities of students are to learn how to learn and to continue this quest for the rest of your lives. After engaging in research with faculty supervision, students may dream their own questions and create their own projects. In these ways, students chart their own paths toward original questions and deeper knowing,

Summer Courses Away

Students in Georgetown College are permitted to transfer up to 12 credits (usually 4 courses) of  Non-Georgetown summer school work total during their four years at Georgetown. In order to have their courses approved for transfer back to their Georgetown degrees, students must complete an Application for Non-Georgetown Summer School. The application can be found here.

Students may be interested in taking courses away from Georgetown during the summer for many reasons: to stay on track with their degree progress, to catch up on credits, for enrichment, or just to stay busy! It’s a good idea to meet with your academic counselor or dean early on in your summer course planning stages to make sure that the type of courses you’re considering will transfer back to your Georgetown degree.

We do have a set of policies regarding what we call “Non-Georgetown Summer School”. You should complete your Core at Georgetown, though we may approve some of those courses away from Georgetown in special circumstances. The same goes for major and minor requirements, although your major/minor department must be involved in approving of you taking any of those courses away from Georgetown. Non-Georgetown summer courses do not affect a student’s GPA, nor do grades appear on the transcript, but a grade of C or higher is required for the course to transfer.

Transfer Credit

Any credit applied toward the degree but not earned in Georgetown coursework is considered transfer credit (credit from other colleges in summers, prior to Georgetown, from study abroad, or AP, IB, and other advanced credit programs). A maximum of 60 transfer credits may be applied toward the Georgetown degree. Summer and study abroad credits are subject to their own maximums as well; consult those sections for specific information.

The max on transfer credit is really set to protect the minimum of credits one should earn at Georgetown to earn the Georgetown degree (half). Students (usually transfer students) who have more than 60 eligible transfer credits can work with their dean to determine the most “useful” 60 to transfer, based on their unique program.

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements

As a requirement for graduation, every student completes the Core Curriculum, outlined in the Undergraduate Bulletin and in the Degree Audit. Students are urged to start the work in the Core right away as first-years.

Our Core Curriculum is designed to introduce all students in the College to a variety of ways of thinking and asking questions about themselves and their world. By focusing on the Core early in one’s career, a student can encounter this variety prior to making choices about majors and minors, informing those decisions. The Core is also a shared experience, linking every graduate of the College — past, present, and future — to the centuries-old traditions of Jesuit education. Participation in the Core is more than just a set of obligations for graduation: It’s an invitation to join an ancient community of learning and scholarship.

Credits

Students in the College have to complete a minimum of 120 credits. 120 credits is industry standard for a semester-based bachelor’s degree.  In addition to this general requirement for your degree, the College requires that you take a minimum of 12 credits every semester to maintain full-time status. You will likely need to take 15 credits (typically five courses) or more for most semesters in order to graduate on time. Students meet graduation requirements in ways that are highly individualized, because much depends on AP/IB or other advanced credit, summer classes, study abroad, and whether they take courses that carry more than three credits. Not to worry: The Dean’s Office is here to help you decide how many credits and courses you specifically will need to take.

You can take a maximum of four courses each summer — at Georgetown or elsewhere — but a maximum of two summer classes may overlap or be held concurrently. Summer courses move quickly, and taking more than two courses at the same time at this speed hinders your ability to learn new material.

The credit minimum, and the amount of work that comprises a credit, is set by the faculty. The guiding principle is that a credit broadly represents a volume of work, engagement, and learning expected of a graduate of a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. The credit totals —  which exist beyond the Core, majors, and minors — represent rigorous academic preparation that will support you in both your profession and a fulfilling intellectual life.

Residency

Most students graduate after spending eight full-time semesters as Georgetown students. However, many students study abroad for a semester or a year, arrive with advanced credit, transfer to Georgetown College in sophomore or junior year from another Georgetown unit or from another university, and some students graduate early. The following minimums must still be met by all students:  

  • All students are required to complete at least 4 full-time semesters enrolled in the College, taking courses on Georgetown’s campus.
  • All students are also required to complete at least 6 full-time semesters of undergraduate work, regardless of advanced credit or accelerated pacing.

The College degree is immersive and intensive; it demands a student’s full presence and engagement. The education we aspire to deliver is inclusive of more than the 120 credits required for the degree; Credits are earned in a shared, immersive community This principle motivates our rules about residency

Exams and Grading

Conflict Exams

During final exams, certain scheduling conflicts can be corrected through administrative measures. This category of “unacceptable” exam conflicts is very limited.

(1) two final exams scheduled for the same time,

(2) three final exams scheduled for the same day, OR

(3) three final exams in successive time slots.

Many other exam arrangements will present challenges, but students must adhere to the exam schedule and do their best. Only in the extreme cases listed above can the dean’s office impose a rescheduled solution on the faculty. The conflict exam is administered on the last day of final exams. Be careful not to make travel arrangements until you know your final exam schedule. To request that one of your final exams be administered by the Dean’s office during the conflict exam period, complete the online conflict exam form.

The specific date and time of the College conflict exam is listed on the Registrar’s final exam schedule. Once the Dean’s Office has approved a conflict exam, the office will arrange to get the final exam from your professor and have it ready for you to take at the conflict exam. If an exam requires audio (such as a language class), the Dean’s Office can’t administer that exam during the conflict exam. If that’s the case, you can either choose the other conflicting exam to take during the conflict time or discuss alternative arrangements with your professor. It’s a good idea to look at your final exam schedule early in the semester. That way, you’ll have lots of time to make alternate arrangements if needed.

Failing a Course

When a student fails a single course in a given semester they will be placed on academic probation for the following semester. The grade of F is factored into the semester and cumulative GPA. If a student chooses to retake the course in which they failed, the new grade does not replace the failure, but the transcript will reflect that the student successfully completed the course in the given semester. If a student fails multiple courses in a given semester or fails a course while on probation, the student may be suspended or dismissed from the University.

We all face failure at different times in our lives. You will learn from it and move on. You will meet with your advisor to discuss what caused the failure and determine strategies for improvement.These meetings will continue throughout the following semester to discuss your academic progress in your current courses.  We also encourage students to take advantage of the Academic Resource Center to engage in conversations on time management, better test preparation, note taking, and other valuable study skills. Speaking to your professor will also prove to be helpful in determining what went wrong. At Georgetown, we want you to reflect on your academic experience both when things are going well and when there are challenges. Learn from the failure and turn it into a positive.

Final exams

Most courses at Georgetown culminate in a final assessment during the examination period. These take place after a period of designated study days following the end of classes during each semester. While this assessment can take different forms (in-person test, take-home exam or final paper/project), they must be offered according to the Registrar’s schedule. Please check this schedule as soon as your course schedule has been finalized so that you can plan out your study time. Do not make any travel plans until you have looked at this examination schedule, as professors will not move examinations for student travel purposes.

Exam periods, like midterms or finals, are challenging times. It is not uncommon nor unexpected for students to feel stress and strain. Managing that stress is an important skill to learn and practice, which includes turning certain kinds of pressure to your advantage. We also have measures to support you, including built-in study days at the end of the term in which all other academic and organized activity must cease, offices dedicated to coaching and counseling around undue levels of stress and anxiety, and administrative tools in the dean’s office to address emergencies.

N-Grades

An N-grade, also sometimes called an “Incomplete”, is a formal course extension approved by the dean’s office and professor when a conflict or emergency arises at the end of a semester. N-grades are typically granted in emergencies related to documented medical issues, family conflicts, or other unavoidable circumstances that make one unable to complete the final requirements of the course on time. An N-grade is not designed for the student looking for additional time to prepare for an exam or complete a written assignment. Requests for N-grades are considered case by case and are approved when supported with both appropriate documentation and evidence that course completion is in reach. Students must be in good academic standing to pursue an N-grade. If an N-grade is approved, the dean, faculty, and student mutually agree on a due date. The grade would need to be resolved before the start of the upcoming semester, but an earlier deadline can be imposed. Link to form.

The N-grade is a useful option when emergencies arise. The goal of the N-grade is to reduce the unfairness caused by that emergency, without creating yet more unfairness by granting extravagant extensions. As such requests for N-grades are scrutinized, and deadlines adjusted by N-grades are carefully negotiated.

Students should keep in mind that extensions are double-edged. They can provide much-needed relief in the immediate glare of a conflict or emergency. But they delay work that will still need to be done, and that means pushing work into a holiday, or into summer, or up against other work that may create yet another conflict. As such, students should weigh the benefits of the extension against the benefits of simply finishing on time with a compromised “product”. In some cases the decision will be obvious, and perhaps even necessary. But in others, it may be the case that just getting the work done is the better move.

Program Changes

Majors

Most students enter the College as “undeclared” students and choose a major during sophomore year. To declare a major or minor, take an Academic Program Change form to the major department for a faculty advisor assignment and return the signed form to the Dean’s Office.

You can pursue a total of three programs (majors, minors, and certificates), but no more than two majors.

Many voices will compete for your attention when trying to decide on your major. Choose your influences carefully. Your best choice of major may not be where your highest grades have been earned; it may not align with the career you’ve envisioned; it may not be something you had heard of before Georgetown. Our advice is to focus on the questions. How do these different disciplines approach the world? What kinds of questions are asked, and what kinds of evidence are required? Sociologists often study the same things as historians, but they ask their questions differently, and expect their results to look and feel different. We’d also ask: Do you prefer tests or papers? Do you prefer concrete answers or coffee-fueled arguments that don’t end? Don’t be afraid to talk it out —your deans want to help you make these decisions.

Intra-University Transfer

Following at least one full academic year of enrollment in the undergraduate school (College, SFS, MSB, or NHS) to which they were admitted, students are eligible to apply to transfer to one of the other three undergraduate schools. Internal transfer applications are available through each school’s Dean’s Office and are due on the last day of classes in a given semester. To begin the process, schedule a meeting with your academic advisor in your current school to discuss the pros and cons of an internal transfer and to make sure you understand policies and procedures. Link to form.

Students are motivated to apply for internal transfer for a variety of reasons. The best reasons include a genuine, perhaps newly developed or discovered curricular interest that can be best satisfied by the curriculum in a different undergraduate school. For example, a student in the MSB could stumble upon a strong interest in psychology while taking psychology electives as a first year student and could decide that she would be happier and more fulfilled majoring in psychology.

The not-so-great reasons involve fear of the unknown (“How will my degree program in my school lead to a job after graduation?”), insecurity over choice of major/courses (“I don’t know what courses to take, so I’ll transfer to a school with a more prescribed curriculum.”), avoidance of requirements (“I don’t want to complete the SFS’s language proficiency requirement, so I’ll transfer to the MSB.”), or a belief that the different schools hold different levels of prestige.

Georgetown doesn’t permit internal transfers until at least the end of a student’s first year. It gives students time and breathing room to think about their interests and goals carefully, consider their options, and do research into different academic paths. It protects students against making the leap to a new school before the decision has been fully considered. Academic counselors and deans are students’ best resource when navigating this process, from the decision-stage through the submission of an internal transfer application.

Registration and Status Changes

Add/Drop

During add/drop, students log into MyAccess and make live, immediate changes to their course schedules. This is a normal part of college life: You get to visit your classes (and other classes for which you are not registered) and make changes to your schedule based on your interests, your experiences in the courses, and course availability. Once add/drop ends, you cannot register for additional classes for the semester. You can leave a class, but this is considered a withdrawal after the end of add/drop.

Sometimes students try to “hunt for the perfect schedule” throughout add/drop. That’s a powerful lure, but you should try to finalize changes by the third or fourth day of classes. Add/drop offers time to explore and search, but keep in mind that most classes begin in earnest on day one. While you can make changes until the last day of the period, adding a new class at the very end usually means that you may have to catch up on essential class work. Sometimes you’ll have to do this, especially if you don’t have a full schedule until the end of the period, but try to avoid that. Finalize your schedule as early as you can — and dive in to your classes.

Leaves of Absence

Students may take a semester or a year off from their studies to work, intern, serve, or travel by taking a leave of absence. The request must come in writing to the student’s dean, and should describe the general plans and duration of the leave. When ready to return, the student simply writes the dean again, offering detail on the leave and requesting readmission. During the leave students may not earn academic credit at Georgetown or elsewhere.

In the case of a medical leave of absence, the Georgetown caregiver (CAPS, Student Health) must endorse the leave upon request, offer advice on the kinds of care one should pursue while away (usually in coordination with doctors or counselors at home), and support the return when reentry is sought.

We support the idea of taking time off if you have a good reason to do so — an intensive internship, a work opportunity, a special family circumstance, or simply a desire to change the scenery and recharge. The door does not close behind you; we are here when you want to return. A leave can be clarifying, inspiring, challenging, fun, relaxing, and an important change of pace. A leave can also sometimes be necessary, and when that necessity arises, we will help you find your way. Whatever the inspiration, if you are so inclined to consider time off, discuss the possibility with your dean.

Part-Time Status

Georgetown College requires all students to be full-time, enrolled in at least 12 credits each semester. Exceptions are made for students with specific, documented medical needs, and for seniors in their final semester. On occasion a student will begin a semester as a full-time student and, by withdrawing from a class, may finish with fewer than 12 credits. In these cases, students are permitted to continue in the semester, but will need to watch their pacing toward the degree, and should check with their supports in Student Financial Services and the Office of Global Services about implications to tuition, aid, visa, and possible scholarship rules, where relevant. When a student finishes two semesters with a part-time schedule, they are placed on academic probation in the next semester.

Full-time status is expected of all students because of the intellectual community we are always nurturing here. Georgetown is immersive and engaged. We encourage and make room for internships, part-time employment, and of course a flourishing social life. These aspects of student life are in fact nurtured by the full-time student experience, providing common ground and glue for the intellectual experience while you’re here. Part-time status is approved in exceptional circumstances only, for these reasons.

Pass/Fail

Starting during sophomore year, students can designate one course per semester as pass/fail. Pass/fail courses allow exploration of a discipline or a topic that interests you — but for which you don’t have a lot of background experience — without the pressure of graded evaluation. Pass/fail courses count toward your graduation requirements, but they cannot be used to fulfill core, major, minor, or certificate requirements. Note that unlike a letter-grade course, you need a “C” or better to pass a pass/fail course. Whether you pass or fail one of these courses, the “grade” will not affect your GPA — but a fail has the same consequences as failing a letter-grade course. Pass/fail requests must be made during add/drop using MyAccess.

Pass/fail exists to encourage intellectual risk-taking and to reduce the barriers to exploration outside one’s comfort zone. It is not intended to reduce one’s work load or to compromise one’s commitment or attention in a course. In this spirit, we don’t approve pass/fail arrangements when a student is taking more than 5 courses. But if you’re considering using the pass/fail option, it’s worth asking yourself the strategic question: What exactly am I afraid of? If you’re simply afraid of an A-, reconsider. It’s a bad bet. If you’re truly uncertain of what to expect in a class, and you want a simple way to reduce the stress associated with brand new content, then proceed with pass/fail.

Transcripts

The transcript is the official academic record which reflects all coursework attempted, grades and credits earned, and major and degree awarded. It will also reflect any academic honors based on semester GPA and cumulative GPA. Students needing official transcripts released from Georgetown will request them via the Registrar’s Office. Students may also view and print unofficial transcripts from MyAccess.

The transcript records and describes your academic history at Georgetown. It will display your coursework semester-by-semester, beginning with any credits transferred via AP, IB, International Examinations, etc. and concluding with your final semester of work prior to graduation. Graduate schools will ask to see your transcript, as will some employers. But in general, the transcript is viewed by very few outside of yourself and your advisors at Georgetown.

Your transcript may well be instrumental in admission for graduate or professional school. But even in that case, don’t lose sight of the big picture. Your transcript will tell a broader story than that blemish you’re obsessing over in sophomore fall, and anything you’re pursuing in the future will be about all of you — your accomplishments, your story, your mission, and your character, none of which is captured by the transcript. Your academic history is a vital record of the fabulous things that you undertake and learn here. But it’s worth keeping all of this in perspective.

Withdrawing from a Course

When you need to get out of a course after the add/drop period, you can withdraw from it. ‘W’ will appear on your transcript, but no indication of the date or of your performance to that point. To do so, in MyAccess select the “Withdraw from a Course” link. If the withdrawal will result in a part-time schedule (fewer than 12 credits), you will need special permission from your dean.

Don’t overthink the impact of a W on your transcript. We don’t want students to blithely withdraw from courses at the first challenge or difficulty, but there are many situations in which a withdrawal is the correct, advisable, brave decision, and should not affect options down the road.

The W is not punitive, nor is it clearly better or worse than some particular grade. It simply indicates that you started a course but did not finish, and there are many sound explanations for such a move. When Ws become a pattern on your transcript, they can become an issue, but one W can be easily explained.

If you feel your overall semester would be improved by withdrawing from a class in which you are struggling or stressed, then consider it. Try not to make the decision based on the single course by itself, or the single grade you’re avoiding. Instead, consider the whole of the semester, and how this W may or may not offer you the relief you’re seeking for a better semester experience.

Related topics: Add/drop, Course load by semester, Part-time status, Transcripts