Pass/fail deserves a comeback…please….I’m begging you

Sophie Oehler, Opinion Columnist

I’m throwing a farewell party this weekend to say goodbye to my academic scholarship. 

There’ll be cake, champagne flutes full of my tears, and fun party games, such as “Guess How Old Sophie Will Be When She Finishes Paying Off Her Student Loans.” 

I’m not thriving with online school. Everyday I sit myself down in front of the computer and say “You’re going to pay attention today. You’re not going to get distracted. You’re going to learn something.” And then ten minutes later that goes out the window. 

As a result, my grades are suffering. I’ve done poorly on the past few tests in my classes and it’s hard to feel inspired to participate in a class when, to the professor, I’m just a circle and a pair of initials. 

What does it matter if I show up to my 100 person lecture on Teams, it’s not like they’ll notice me anyway. 

Other students are feeling the same, like Victoria Scala, a junior in the Grossman School of Business. 

 “I’m finding that focusing in online lectures is very challenging,” Scala said. “This lack of focus means that I’m not retaining as much material which then affects my overall performance in the class.”

Last semester, UVM sent out a notice that all students could opt for pass/fail on their transcript, as opposed to a letter grade. Any GPA that fell below a 3.0 during the course of our semester in quarantine, would be frozen until the fall. 

It helped alleviate the stress from online school during a pandemic, so I could better focus on the material being taught.

But I don’t understand why that exception can’t carry over into this semester, and the following. 

We’re still in a pandemic. The majority of us still have most of our classes online.

We’re all burnt out, unmotivated, and still reeling from a global pandemic and the end of the political world to boot. 

“Everyday I try my best and it would be nice to not have the pressure of maintaining a specific GPA when there’s so many additional obstacles to tackle as a student,” said Josh Huffman, a junior. 

Another discussion that students keep hoping will be had by administration, is the topic of decreasing tuition due to the pandemic. 

This isn’t college anymore. I sit in my apartment staring at a computer screen for the majority of my day. I am on campus one day out of the week. I see maybe three people consistently. 

I’m not complaining about the situation, obviously we’re still in a pandemic and obviously I understand the ramifications that come with that. 

But it’s near impossible to maintain strong academics while being confined to a computer screen, and a job and stable relationships without wanting to drop everything and walk into the ocean. 

This semester, and probably the semesters to come, are not worth the $60,000 we’re being charged, especially if we start losing our scholarships. 

Plus, due to the pandemic, a lot of families have lost their jobs, putting them deeper in the hole than they were before. The added shock of a lost scholarship would be irrecoverable.

It could be my proficiency based high school education talking, but higher education shouldn’t be about grades. At least not in the middle of a global pandemic. 

We deserve to attend a university that has not only our physical health, but mental health and academic stability set as the first priority. 

My dad suggested that if online school continues, I should take a gap semester to reset my brain. He also mentioned that if enough students had that same mentality, universities might cut tuitions in attempts to coax kids back to campus. 

Some food for thought, perhaps.