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Updated pass/no pass grading policy for California community college students

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Mike Damron
Edward Borek, the president of Associated Student Government at Miramar College, works from home in Lakeside, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2022.

Community college students across the state have just been given a lifeline to stay in school. The California Community College Board of Governors has approved an updated pass/no pass grading policy to discourage students from dropping out.

Edward Borek is president of the Associated Student Government at San Diego’s Miramar College. He also works for the college part-time and is taking 17 units of credit this semester. Because of the pandemic, he often works from his dining room table.

“I’m stressing about getting that A to maintain a 4.0 GPA, getting no sleep and not taking care of myself,” he said, “just to get that 90 as opposed to an 89. If you’re taking pass/no pass you wouldn’t have to struggle so much to succeed.”

Updated pass/no pass grading policy for CA community college students

The updated policy allows students to decide whether they want a letter grade or a pass/no pass grade to protect their GPA until their last day of class in a semester.

“Students were struggling with remote instruction and struggling with family members being ill due to COVID,” said Adrian Gonzales, the vice president of Student Affairs at Miramar College. The pass/no pass option is designed to relieve some of the stress brought on by the pandemic.

“If, in a normal situation, they would have gotten an A, but, with everything they’re dealing with, got a C, this allows them to say: 'I’ll take a pass/no pass and not have to worry about the pressure of A, B or C on my transcript,'” Gonzales said.

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It’s a calculated risk for students because the policy change does not apply to four-year universities that may still require traditional grading. It will be the student’s responsibility to work with a counselor on the best transfer options.

Edward Borek has not lost hope and will continue his hard work to finish a degree in business administration. After that he plans to complete an MBA or get accepted into law school. He might even look for a joint program. “I think you have to be optimistic and shoot for the stars,” he said.