5 Classes a Semester, 1 S/NC

<p>After going through the search engine a few times, I'm under the impression that it's a good idea to make 5 classes a semester the norm, as long as you take one class S/NC. It's a good idea to me because you will be able to maximize the amount of classes you will take at Brown without necessarily over-working you. Do a lot of people do this/think this way?</p>

<p>I was also wondering about taking classes with a heavy workload S/NC; when your workload for your graded classes take almost all of your time do you just neglect doing the homework of your S/NC class? Or is it common to simply not do your homework for S/NC?</p>

<p>If I had to guess, most students don't take 5 courses a term. A couple of the recent grads on this board definitely hold the opinion that 5 courses with 1 S/NC should be the norm, and some others believe that trying 5 courses and then eventually dropping 1 is best. I frankly think you should not take 5 courses freshman fall no matter what, and I have not taken anything S/NC despite taking 5 courses in 5 of my 6 semesters so far. All in all, it depends on the courses and the amount of rest/socializing you need.</p>

<p>Many people work as hard in their S/NC courses as they would if they were taking them for a grade. Others will back off on work/studying for S/NC courses. That's up to you. I wouldn't not do the homework for an S/NC course, though. In many courses, that'd make it pretty difficult to pass if the exams are based on the homework.</p>

<p>I don't think it is common for people to flat out not do homework for S/NC classes. You will most likely fail the class if you attempt to do so. On the other hand, when it comes to crunch time and you need to prioritize your homework doing, then the S/NC class would most likely fall to the end of the pecking order. I haven't personally taken a class S/NC as well, so this is just from general observation.</p>

<p>A number of people's thoughts and experiences are here: <a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/brown-university/1062827-s-nc-per-semester-pass-fail.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/brown-university/1062827-s-nc-per-semester-pass-fail.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>As Uroogla alluded to, there is some difference of opinion about course load and grading choices around here. My personal belief is that people should take classes S/NC as a matter of course -- I think it's part of the Brown experience.</p>

<p>I don't know what classes you're thinking about, but 5 is definitely not the norm. Taking a class S/NC does not have a significant effect on the workload - assignments are not insignificant worksheets that you can blow off (like in high school), they're papers/tests/presentations. You still have to complete them, and it still takes time.</p>

<p>Also, there is an incentive to get an S with distinction, since it counts as an A on your GPA.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Also, there is an incentive to get an S with distinction, since it counts as an A on your GPA.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>My impression is that, officially, there are no GPA's and that those calculated by employers and graduate/professional schools are based only on the grades appearing on the transcript, which I thought did not include marks of S with distinction since that merit was merely for internal consideration for Phi Beta Kappa.</p>

<p>I believe silverturtle is right</p>

<p>Yup S with distinction counts as an A for internal purposes only (GPA requirement for honors, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). Your self-calculated GPA would omit all classes taken S/NC.</p>

<p>Thanks for the responses! Helps a lot!</p>

<p>I have one more question then: I read that you can switch your grade option until the fourth week of the class. Has anyone done this? How are the grades converted from S/NC to ABC?</p>

<p>You do it on Banner. There is a link that says "change grade option" (or words to that effect). Click on it and you will see a list of classes you have registered for. You can change your grade option for each class through a drop-down menu.</p>

<p>Path,</p>

<p>I don't know if this is what you were getting at but profs won't know that you're s/nc, so all assignments are graded as though you're taking the class for a grade. The only difference is at the end of the semester when your transcript says S instead of A B or C. This allows you to seamlessly switch up to 1 month in.</p>

<p>I don't think that's right. Professors do know if a particular student is taking their class S/NC.</p>

<p>Many professors say they don't know until they enter the final grade. They probably can check, but I doubt they care.</p>

<p>Ok so the official word is that your grade option is available to professors should they want that information. Some (as a matter of principle or general ambivalence) will not look it up on Banner until it is time to assign grades. However, by no means is the information off-limits to them.</p>

<p>But either way your assignments are graded on an ABC scale? Deciding to do S/NC simply means that if you have an A,B, or C you will have an S at the end of the class. If that's the case, being able to switch after a month is pretty nifty then, huh?</p>

<p>^That's how it works. You're recommended not to do this for courses in your concentration, though. A couple years back, a BDH article quoted some grad school adcoms as saying they had no clue what S's meant, since you have to be really bad to fail (in most classes). You likely won't get the benefit of the doubt that it's a high grade, so if you're applying to places that require a transcript, your S/NC courses should probably be in areas that you're experimenting in.</p>

<p>Also, I don't think the one-month leeway is as "useful" as it seems. Sure, you can get a general feel of the class and its difficulty, but the first objective indicators of your performance (the first mid-terms, papers) won't be known to you within the first month, and therefore you can't really try to strategically manipulate your decision whether or not to S/NC. I venture that the one-month cut-off is ostensibly in place to prevent students from doing exactly that. Then again, there's still the perennial problem of dropping a class right before finals to avoid a B, something which I absolutely do not get.</p>

<p>What Uroogla said is generally true of subject-specific grad schools (i.e., PhD programs). Professional schools are a very different beast, and have been discussed elsewhere here. For example, there's pretty good reason to think that law schools don't give a damn what you take S/NC.</p>

<p>The S/NC cut-off was moved earlier during my time at Brown, to help prevent people from gaming the system. I think that the administration is sometimes a bit too worried about gamesmanship, and that the faculty is sometimes a little too quick to unilaterally fiddle with a curriculum that was the result of a mutual agreement among students and faculty. So far as I'm concerned, to the extent that people are doing things like dropping classes to avoid a B, Brown's admitting people that it shouldn't be.</p>

<p>A note to high-schoolers that's relevant to this thread: In college, at least at a place like Brown, grading is the prerogative of individual professors. Professors don't report your progress through the course to the school; they're not required to follow specific grading guidelines; they don't follow any one system for grading. At the end of the semester, the professor simply reports your letter grade or S (or NC), and that's it. It's generally just a magical black box. You're best off disavowing yourself right now of any notion that grading (except in a couple of departments) will follow some kind of consistent or describable pattern. Students' obsession with the security blanket of knowing 'how they're going to be graded' cause professors to make ridiculous claims like "participation will count for 25% of your grade." There are too many degrees of freedom for that to make any meaningful sense. Just do a good job and you'll have a good shot at getting an A or S-HD.</p>

<p>Thanks for the help! Everything is clear now. Can't wait!!</p>

<p>aleph0, </p>

<p>Do you actually know people who have dropped courses to avoid Bs? I know people who talked about dropping courses to avoid Cs but never actually went through with it. Dropping for a B sounds a little intense.</p>