Please, Don’t Grade My Work

Soulja Boy trying to look convincing

Did you know that you don’t have to get a letter grade for every class you take? Over the course of your time at Yale College, you can convert four courses to the Credit/D/Fail system, which means that these are the only three grades available for instructors to give you (actually, first years now get two more that they can only use in their first year for a total of six!). A grade of “Credit” has no impact on your GPA, so as long as you make a reasonable attempt at your work throughout the semester, you don’t have to sweat for that A. I’m writing this because I was a fool and didn’t use my first Credit/D until now, in my seventh semester, and I’d like you to avoid making the same mistake. So, here are two reasons to use your Credit/D’s liberally.

Crying Michael Jordan asking you to sign for this "L"
Realizing I should’ve used more Credit/D’s

1. Explore!

I’m going to assume that Yale’s status as a liberal arts college was somewhat of a pull factor in your decision to attend, and the Credit/D option lets you explore different disciplines without worrying about your GPA. You’re going to have to spend a good amount of time on your major, and it can be really refreshing to step outside of your comfort zone and break up the week with a really interesting class. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw, but aren’t particularly confident in your ability to do so for a grade, then do it for credit. I believe in you! After all, you only need to get a C.

2. Manage Your Workload!

I ended up using a Credit/D on a class this semester because it was an extremely busy semester for me, and I knew I didn’t have the capacity to balance everything. So, I proactively decided to convert a class to Credit/D, which was a huge weight off of my shoulders. I was less worried about doing every single reading, and I certainly wasn’t losing any sleep over my grade. I was especially thankful once finals rolled around, because I had three papers, a presentation, and two exams to take care of. So, I was quite happy to settle for a “good” paper instead of a “great” one for this class. I just got my feedback this week — my paper was “interesting and well-written, if perhaps less than exhaustively researched.” Just what I was going for.

A man reading something and looking very confused
My professor reading my final paper

Now, there are a few caveats. First, you cannot convert any of your distributional requirements (e.g. language requirements) to Credit/D, which is somewhat unfortunate. Second, most majors have limitations on the number of classes you can convert — for example, mine (Ethics, Politics, and Economics) gives you just one. Finally, you must chose to convert the class to Credit/D by the last day of classes, which I actually don’t see as much of a limitation. The deadline has been moved a few times over the years, but I think that the last day of class is quite reasonable and lets you get a good idea of what your grade will be if you don’t convert it. I don’t think these limitations are prohibitive, and you still have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this option. The bottom line is, if you don’t feel good about your ability to get a grade that you’ll be happy with, convert the class to Credit/D! I promise I’ll be doing so again this coming semester.