Beginning with the 2014 Fall semester, DePauw started offering many Winter and May Term courses for credit, which in turn has created an indirect semester GPA.
Winter and May Term courses are now being offered for .5 credit, which will be graded and calculated in the student’s GPA. Instead of using the former semester GPA, which excluded Winter and May Term courses, DePauw measures grades in an all-inclusive semester GPA for the official transcript, Registrar Ken Kirkpatrick said.
“Fall and Spring terms are referred to as primary terms; Winter and May are extended studies or supplemental terms,” said Kirkpatrick. “Organizations, scholarships and processes, like academic standing, that use semester GPA as a criteria have the choice of using the primary term GPA instead of a semester GPA that combined the primary and associated supplementary GPAs.”
Fraternities and sororities have to use Fall Semester grades to determine eligibility, since recruitment takes place before Winter Term grades are available. Other organizations—Management Fellows, most notably—have switched to the combined primary and supplementary semester GPA.
As for academic standing, also referred to as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), the primary term GPA is first evaluated and then that decision can be amended after the supplemental term grade comes in.
“The reason we do this is because we need to give students who are being suspended an opportunity to appeal the suspension before the next primary term starts,” said Kirkpatrick. “Sometimes a student who is behind on one of the SAP criteria will get enough through Winter Term to meet the criteria. If that happens we just change the status."
Most courses with an academic focus are now offered for credit while business-oriented courses are still predominantly zero-credit and offered pass/fail.
This change makes the Winter and May Term courses more challenging.
“The main [goal] was to have a bit more of an academic focus in Winter Term, which had the reputation of not being very academically rigorous,” Kirkpatrick said. “There was some desire to have for credit internships in Winter and May. And sometimes with the academic courses by faculty, they want to do something different and have to make it conform to the academic standard.”
According to Kirkpatrick, this change had been in development for two years before it was implemented.
Apart from adjustments, such as increasing the requirement back to three if the new program works well enough to do so, Kirkpatrick doesn’t anticipate that many more changes will be made. The only big possibility, he says, is offering Winter/May Term internships for credit.
“Some internships require that students are getting academic credit, which isn’t new, but it’s not really implemented yet. Federal legislation tries to define what an internship is versus what a job is and hinges on academic value of internship.”
This would benefit students who need practical business experience.
Senior Isaac Loya is vacillating between two Winter Term courses: “Preserving the Past – Presenting our Heritage: Art, Archives, and Objects at DePauw University,” offered for credit, and “DePauw Management Accelerator Program” offered through the Kelley School of Business without credit. The first is interesting, he says, but the second is more relevant to his internship experience and plans after graduating.
“It’s surprising to me that the one more beneficial to me won’t count for credit,” Loya said.
Credit-bearing Winter/May Term courses have attracted positive feedback from students, too.
Senior Laura Witte is enrolled in the credit-bearing off-campus Winter Term “Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.”
“I believe that students will take the Winter Term courses more seriously now because it is for credit,” Witte said. “And by having the classes count for credit, your work during that one class for an entire month can be measured with an actual grade.”