A Fresh View: S/NC, S/NC!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Emily Schell, and I’m the new freshman behind “A Fresh View.” You get to read my attempts to tell jokes and blog for the next year – but at least hopefully you will get something out of it! While you all struggle through the college application process, I get to struggle through the trials and tribulations of being a freshman. So there you have it: neither of us is alone. This blog is just a little bit of Brunonia to brighten up your week!

First off- its almost December! CONGRATULATIONS! That means you’re almost done with the college application process! That is definitely something to celebrate. Also, its almost Christmas….which is awesome. Around this time last year, I started really wondering, “How hard will college be? What are the grades like there?” I’m here to try and answer those questions, one at a time.

(1) How hard will college be?

Answer: It really depends on how hard you make it. I know that’s not the answer you’d like to hear, but, if you got into Brown, I’d like to think you’re no stranger to hard work. The workload at Brown is doable IF YOU STRUCTURE YOUR TIME WELL. You can make taking 3 classes an absolute bear if you give yourself a lot of extracurricular commitments, or you can make 5 classes fairly “easy” if you work ahead and manage your time well. It’s a personal choice you have to make. I know I actually enjoy being overstretched, so I am taking 5 classes and also putting a lot of extracurriculars on my plate. I literally find myself sprinting from place to place sometimes just to make my time commitments work. However, if this isn’t your style, don’t do it! Many people at Brown choose to take 4 classes and do one to three extra activities. Don’t think just because you’re only doing the “average” amount that you are somehow “behind.” At Brown, or any college for that matter, nothing is “average.” Take those 4 classes and really learn something (that’s something you didn’t get to do in high school…) Allow yourself to really enjoy those 1-3 activities you do. It will be challenging, but in a way that you should, and will, enjoy. ☺

(2) What are the grades like in college?

Answer: This also depends on the college. At Brown, we have a letter grade system of A, B, C, D, and F. We don’t have A-‘s or B+’s, which I found to be quite a relief, coming from a high school with both – and + grades. However, we also have a wonderful grade option called S/NC, or Satisfactory/No Credit. This is where the Brown stereotype “Brown students don’t have grades!” comes from. However, as are most stereotypes, this is really not the case. The S/NC option exists so students can explore and take classes they normally would feel uncomfortable taking. The open curriculum at Brown encourages exploration outside of your major because it gives you the freedom and flexibility to take whatever you want. The S/NC option acts as extra encouragement! That Organic Chemistry class might seem interesting, but completely terrifying, to an English major. Fear not, English major! You can take it S/NC–which means that as long as you get a 70% or above, you will just get a “Satisfactory” on your report card. You won’t feel the absolute pressure to get an “A” in that class because a letter grade will be reported in your academic record. There also are classes that are mandatory S/NC, such as fine arts classes (Introduction to Acting and Directing, Introduction to Visual Art, etc.) This is because, in these classes, how does a professor really discern an “A” work of artwork between a “B” work of artwork? The art is either good or bad. Having these classes be S/NC allows for the broadest range of artistic feedback and discourse because the professor and students aren’t bound within expressing their opinions through a 5-letter grade system. However, with that being said, S/NC here at Brown is a privilege we students don’t abuse. As appealing as it may sound to take all your classes S/NC, nobody does this, because (1) it is good to get feedback in the actual form of grades and (2) for any continuing graduate education, you need a GPA. “S” is not applicable for grad school. S/NC is a beautiful thing though that everyone at Brown should, and does, take advantage of every once in a while!

Happy reading! Good luck with the college application process! If you all have any questions or want me to cover a specific topic, feel free to shoot me an email at emily_schell@brown.edu.

Ever true to Brown,
Emily Schell


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