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Ask Edward

Contesting/Changing a Grade

Can a professor change the course requirements in the middle of the semester?
What is the "F" replacement policy?

Dear Edward, 

At the beginning of the semester my professor assigned a big portfolio that is due at the end of the semester.  About halfway through the semester, the professor decided to change the amount of points the portfolio was worth. Instead of 50 points as it states in the syllabus, the professor decided to make it worth 100 points (nearly a third of our final grade). It doesn’t seem fair to me that after doing great work on all my of my assignments that this culminating presentation/portfolio could drop me from an A to a C.

--Frustrated Grad Student

Dear Frustrated--

Generally, these syllabus changes are for the benefit of the students in the course, but once in a while there can be problems. I would suggest that you first try to work this out with with your professor in order to see if an agreement can be made without involving any higher authority; however, almost certainly there will be an opportunity for you to refute this late syllabus change if it doesn't turn out to be in your favor. Of course, we will have to wait until it is over, because there is no need change a good grade. The energy spent taking issue with the change may, at this point, be better spent working on the portfolio presentation itself. Appeals can be made, but only after the fact, and if you have the original course syllabus and all of your papers and other projects from the class as evidence, you will be able to set a rather straight-forward argument as to how the late change to the syllabus was unfair, and you can then petition the proper Academic Committee to change your grade to what you would have received under the initial grading rubric--it would be up to the vote of a committee at that point and their decision would be final. Regardless, you need to go in there and give a good presentation because, under either rubric, a bad grade is a bad grade. Let me know how it turns out and we can go from there. Good luck!



Dear Edward,

I have a feeling that I will get a D in my Chemistry class. I noticed a lot of people ask to get an F instead of a D, so that they can take the class over and the F will be replaced by the new grade. Why is that and what's the policy behind it? Also is there any form you have to fill out for the process of taking the class over and replacing the F with the new grade? Thanks!

-Conflict in Chemistry

Dear Conflict in Chemistry,  

Sometimes a student doesn't perform as well as he or she could because of, well, any situation that may come up in real life. For that reason, we offer students a second (and sometimes third) chance to take any class that he or she did not pass. Here is the passage from the Undergraduate Bulletin regarding the "F" Repeat Policy: "The 'F' repeat policy only applies to courses taken after 1990. The number of failing credits that can be deleted from the G.P.A. shall be limited to sixteen for the duration of the student’s undergraduate enrollment in institutions of the University. If the second grade is C or higher (C- does not qualify) the original grade of 'F' will not be used in the calculation of the G.P.A. (although the course and grade remain on the record). The revised G.P.A. will be used for admissions, academic progress and graduation minimum standards. The F grades will, however, apply to graduation honors and can affect other requirements for progress in the major. Consult with the Office of the Registrar for specific applications of this policy." (2009-2011 CCNY Undergraduate Bulletin, page 292) The "F" Repeat Policy form, as well as many other useful forms, can be found here.