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April 16: Dean Dolan & VP Calhoun Email to Undergrads About End of Semester and Summer Programs

TO:                    All Undergraduate Students


FROM:             Jill Dolan, Dean of the College

                          W. Rochelle Calhoun, VP for Campus Life


RE:                    End-of-semester Check-In


April 16, 2020


             We hope you’re all well as we look toward the end of this highly unusual, discombobulating semester.  We’ve heard from many faculty about how energetically you’ve engaged in your virtual courses, despite all the attendant challenges.  We so appreciate your resilience and flexibility, as well as your ongoing commitment to your coursework and the rest of your lives as Princeton students.

A few reminders:

1. Important deadlines:

  • The University deadline for submission of the senior thesis is May 4.
  • The University deadline for submission of junior independent work is May 15.
  • All other written work for the semester is due on Dean’s Date, May 12, which is also the P/D/F deadline, and the last day to drop a class.

If you need an extension beyond these dates, please speak with your residential college dean or director of studies, since end-of term extensions must be approved both by the course instructor or department adviser and the college dean or director.

2. P/D/F policy.  Until Dean’s Date, you can elect to P/D/F courses that are P/D/F optional.  Some departments have allowed a P/D/F option for senior theses, senior exams, and junior independent work.  Some departments have selected the P/D/F-only option for independent work.

Depending on your department’s deadlines, this work might be graded before the May 12 P/D/F deadline.  We’ve left it up to each department whether students will receive a grade prior to the May 12 deadline that they can then decide to cover.

The P/D/F policy established for spring 2020 will be maintained for any Princeton course taught remotely under an existing program (for example, a language class) during summer 2020.  Please contact the Registrar should you have any logistical questions about the P/D/F process.

3. Transcript notation.  The Committee on Examinations and Standing has approved the following transcript notation for spring 2020.  Given the unusual circumstances in which teaching and learning have proceeded this semester, this language will be posted on the transcript:

The Covid-19 pandemic required all classes to transition to remote instruction for the second half of the spring 2020 semester.  Grading patterns reflect this disruption, as some instructors moved to a Pass/D/Fail only basis for assessment, and students were permitted to elect the Pass/D/Fail option in all other undergraduate courses.”

We realize many of you have questions about how this semester’s grading will affect your applications to graduate or professional schools.  Let us reassure you that every program to which you might apply will be aware of this semester’s circumstances and will review your application accordingly.

4. Final exams.  We’ve encouraged instructors to rethink their final assessment practices for this unusual term.  Some courses might continue to have timed final examinations on Blackboard or Canvas as scheduled; others might have “take-home” exams, for which we’ve urged instructors to set time-limits so that you’ll know their expectations for how long this work should take.  We’ve also suggested that faculty reweight the proportions by which each assignment will be assessed, given how courses have been conducted this semester.

The McGraw Center has some terrific advice about managing final exams.  In addition, they’ve posted suggestions specific to online exams and final assessment requirements.

5. Summer opportunities.  Many of our most popular programs have been cancelled this summer.  The Global Seminars have been postponed until next year; the International Internship Program has been cancelled, though our staff will prioritize your internship placement for next summer; and on-campus research has also been cancelled.

All summer on-campus programs have now been cancelled through August 15, 2020.  Undergraduate students’ independent work research must now focus on remote options.  

  • domestic in-person internships in your home country can be undertaken only if they comply with local and national health and safety guidelines. Remote internships are permitted where possible, according to individual program guidelines. The International Internship Program, however, cannot provide this option, since the equity and integrity of these internships cannot be guaranteed across the board.


Funding administered through the Office of the Dean of the College will be allocated to projects that don’t require travel, which students can undertake in the vicinity of their primary residence.  You should inquire about the status of your plans with individual programs.  We’re terribly sorry about these cancellations and revisions.

For those of you who are rising seniors, we encourage you to contact your advisor for guidance about how you might conduct your thesis research remotely; likewise, for those of you conducting junior independent research.

For this summer only, students may apply to receive transfer credit for pre-approved on-line courses offered by other institutions.  The pre-approval forms can be found here; students considering this option should contact their residential college dean or director of studies.

The Center for Career Development has resources to help during this spring and summer.  On this website, you’ll also find a list of paid and unpaid jobs, internships, and mentorship opportunities offered by Princeton alumni to help undergraduate students whose summer and post-graduation plans are upended by the pandemic.

7. Travel advice.  Let us remind you that international travel remains suspended.  Our travel policies will be reviewed only when the current US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Department of State (DOS) restrictions have been relaxed.  For travel to be considered, a location must be CDC Level 0 or 1 and DOS Level 1, 2, or 3.  No locations meet those criteria right now.  Until further notice, no international travel should be planned or scheduled.

Likewise, COVID-19 is rapidly spreading throughout the United States.  Because we don’t have systematic advice from government authorities about the safety of interstate travel, we strongly recommend against non-essential domestic travel.  For further advice, please consult the CDC’s guidance for domestic travel.

Fall.  Students will select fall term courses as previously scheduled, beginning April 20 and concluding on April 29.  Because of the on-going health emergency, we don’t yet know exactly how instruction will be offered in the fall.  We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to teach on campus, but we’re committed to delivering our undergraduate curriculum in a way that protects the health and safety of our students, our faculty, and our larger community.

Self-care.  While we are apart, do remember to take care of yourselves and pay attention to your health and well-being.  Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) has put together this helpful guide for addressing your mental health.  Dillon Gym has moved fitness classes and other activities online.  And the Office of Wintersession and Campus Engagement has continued to create and to promote ways for us to come together virtually.  We hope you’ll find all these resources helpful as you work to preserve your mental and physical health.

Once again, on behalf of all the staff in the Office of the Dean of the College and in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, we’re so deeply sorry for how this semester has transpired because of the ravages of this pandemic.

This period of remote learning underlines for us all the benefits, pleasures, and privileges of residential college life.  Without opportunities to see you all as we walk across our beautiful campus, or to eat with you in our dining halls, or to meet with you in Frist or the residential colleges or in class, we realize how much of life at Princeton consists of these face-to-face formal and interstitial moments of live interaction.

Stay well, stay focused, and stay in touch with us, with your professors, with your coaches, with your residential college staff, and with everyone else at Princeton who cares about how you’re faring personally and academically.

Warm best,

Dean Dolan & VP Calhoun

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