Why you should embrace S/NC

By now, your advisor has supposedly discussed with you the S/NC grading option. A number of adults and upperclassmen have probably told you that if you take more than a few of your classes S/NC during your four years at Brown, you won’t get a real job. Besides, why take a class S/NC if you were smart enough to get into Brown?  Well Mr. High School Hot Shot, there is a lot more behind this semi-caveat in the grading system than the principle that an English concentrator can take an introductory physics course for shits and giggles and vice versa.

I’m personally taking two mandatory S/NC courses as a freshman. One of them is an introductory writing course that takes place three times a week at 9 a.m., and it is my favorite class in my life thus far.  The other is a seminar open to all undergraduates on Gender, Science and Society, where last week we read an article about female primates orgasming in relation to reproduction, talked about it for two hours and called it a day.  Did I mention that my final exam for this seminar is an in-class workshop on editing a Wikipedia article?  At this point you are probably overwhelmed with jealousy, but you too can experience the wonder of S/NC.

First off, there are some things to clarify.

  • Taking an S/NC class doesn’t mean you’ll have less work; it means that you are doing the work for YOU and not for some arbitrary letter grade.
  • The New Curriculum was created with the intention that people would heavily use the S/NC option. We, the student population, control the culture here at Brown, and it is up to us to decide whether we want to be super anal about GPAs or not.  Some people take all their courses S/NC, and to those awesome people, I commend thee.  If you can’t help but give a shit about grad school, etc. I recommend loosening up a bit and allowing yourself to take one class S/NC per semester.
  • You can get an S with distinction, which is equivalent to if not more prestigious than an A, as well as a course performance report at the end of the semester that can be submitted to future institutions detailing your presence in the class.

Now is the time for a passionate plea for S/NC.  Stop freaking out about the difference between a B+ and an A-; you came here to be in a non-competitive liberal learning environment. Those things your advisor said about not being blinded by the idiotic pressure to start following a concentration you will undoubtedly change before the end of sophomore year was actually good advice!  Why do you feel the need to define yourself as an economics major — because the most common question in an extracurricular meet and greet is “Say your name, your class year and what you’re concentrating in”?  Grow a pair and have the confidence to be undeclared.  You’re in college now, and not just any college, you’re at Brown —not some stiff university full of noncreative squares.  Chances are you will not get a 4.0 here, so fuck it and make that Chem 330 that’s been keeping you up all night S/NC.  I beg of you, try to actually learn something instead of sticking to the high school mentality that the point of academics is to get good grades->so you can get a good job->so you make money->so you can feed your family and pay for your parents’ retirement, because that is one depressing outlook on your purpose in the next four years.

You have until 5 p.m. to change your grading options. Let loose and make our hippie forefathers proud.

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  1. Parielle

    This was great. You’re a wonderful writer.

  2. I think you have made some very salient points. Given the level of grade inflation at so many high schools and I am sure universities how relevant is the actual letter? You are there to learn, and have some fun soak it in. Great post.

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