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Frequently Asked Questions

If you're new to college, that experience alone comes with a host of questions about registration, majors, grades, policies, and dozens of other topics. Answers to many of your general questions may be found in "Help For Students" on the Grossmont College main website. On this page, however, you'll find responses to the most frequent questions asked by our English students about our courses, procedures, faculty and programs. If your question is not on this page, please contact the appropriate Coordinator or Chair listed under "Find Us," or speak with your English instructor personally. A faculty member will cheerfully help you find the information you're seeking.



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01. What does it mean if I fail an English class?

Different instructors set different standards for "passing" and "failing" assignments, but the minimum passing course grade at Grossmont College is "C." Instructors have the option to assign a plus or minus when assigning final course grades, but a "C-"is nota passing grade. In most cases, instructors convert "C-" to a "D+." Many courses also offer students a "P/NP" ("Pass/No Pass") option in lieu of letter grades, but students must specifically choose this option when registering for the course, or ask Admissions and Records officially to change their registration status to "P/NP." "P" is equal to a “C” grade or higher and units are not calculated in GPA. "NP" means "less than a grade of C. Whether "Pass" or "Fail," choosing an "N/P" option means the course will not be calculated in the student's GPA.

Course failure has different meaning for different types of students. Grossmont College grants "Grade Forgiveness" in any course in which a D or F grade is earned, so long as that particular course is not being used to meet a degree requirement. This, however, is an unusual scenario,and strict guidelines apply. It's much more likely that you will repeat the course. If you have received a substandard grade or withdrew from the course with a “W,” you are permitted to repeat any course twice (i.e., take it three times in total). You aren't obligated to repeat a course, provided it is not an obstacle to your enrollment in other courses required for your major. Only when you complete and pass the course, or complete the course on a third and final attempt, will your course grade be factored into your GPA. Some exceptions, as well as further stipulations, apply to these rules. See the College Catalog for complete details.

02. I feel my final course grade is a mistake. What can I do?

If your instructor has made an honest miscalculation in your final grade, and a change of grade is merited, the instructor will complete and submit the appropriate forms to Admissions and Records. If you have a grievance over a course grade, the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District encourages “All parties involved…to seek an informal remedy. Informal meetings and discussion between persons directly involved in a grievance are essential at the outset of the dispute and should be encouraged at all stages” (“Student Grievance and Due Process Procedures” p. 4). Unresolved questions regarding a final grade in an English course should be brought within one year of its issuance to the attention of the Dean of English and Social and Behavioral Sciences. For additional resources, including applicable timelines and a downloadable PDF of “Student Grievance and Due Process Procedures” handbook, you should visit the college’s Student Affairs website or contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs office at 619-644-7600.

03. Can I retake a class for a better grade, even if I've passed it?

No. Some advanced Creative Writing workshop classes offer a four-semester sequence, so that students can retake the class three more times to continue writing projects, and one or two other English classes follow this same concept. However, no student is permitted to retake a class once a course has been successfully completed. Please consult the College Catalog for more information about exceptions to this rule, including a limited option to audit courses for no credit.

04. If I fail an English class, does it have to appear on my transcripts?

Yes—and no. For transfer level courses, failing will have an adverse effect to your transcripts. For non-degree credit courses such as English 098 and lower, however, it won't. While your final grade in a remedial course such as English 098 does go on official record during your time at Grossmont College, English 098's 4.0 units are not transferable to a four-year institution, and your grade, whether excellent, average, or poor, will not cause any measurable effect to your transcripts. Like other lower level remedial courses, English 098's purpose is to strengthen your writing skill sets to prepare you for the rigors of the official composition sequence.

05. Can failing the C.A.T. make me ineligible for the official composition sequence?

Yes, and no. The Composition Assessment Test (C.A.T. exam) is a department-wide timed writing exam administered to all English 098 students. While the results of the test provide important data to help us with the goals of our Reading and Composition programs, its main objective is to assist instructors in evaluating the progress and readiness of their students to start the sequence of Grossmont's composition courses, the first of which is usually English 110. The C.A.T. exam is factored into your English 098 course grade. Because at least a “C” (or “Pass”) in English 098 is required for entrance to English 110, failing the C.A.T. exam can result in a substandard or borderline final course grade in English 098 that makes a student ineligible for English 110. If, however, your overall performance in English 098 is satisfactory regardless of your score on the C.A.T. exam, then you will become eligible for English 110. Conversely, if you receive a passing score on the C.A.T. but receive a substandard final grade in English 098, you will not be eligible to enroll in English 110 and will have to repeat English 098.

06. Why is English 098 a 4.0 unit class, when English 098R and others aren't?

Some classes that are remedial, or which involve contract study, have credit values other than 3.0 units. In most cases, however, units are equivalent to the number of hours a course meets each week in lecture and/or lab. Because they are remedial and a little more labor-intensive than other classes, English 098 classes meet four hours per week in the classroom. Hence, they are 4.0 units. English 098R classes, which have a Reading emphasis, only meet officially for three hours per week.

07. If I enroll in English 098, do I have to enroll in English 098R as well?

No, you do not have to enroll in both classes. English 098 is a stand-alone remedial class with a focus on paragraphing and sentence skills. However, if you sign up for English 098R, which has a vocabulary and reading emphasis, it is strongly recommended that you also register for English 098.

08. Why take a composition course and a reading course at the same time?

The English Department offers a comprehensive and individualized program of courses that can help build reading skills at multiple reading levels. While taking a composition course with a reading course is not required, it's encouraged as a way to enhance your experience in a composition class, with faster reading, better comprehension, and greater retention. In fact, most students average two full grade levels of reading improvement in their composition course for a single semester of work in a reading course. For more information about our program of reading skills courses, visit "Reading Courses."

09. I can't get into the English class I really need. Can I just hang out in it until a spot opens?

We genuinely sympathize with how impacted many of our courses are, but, sorry, you cannot wait past Week 2 of the sixteen-week semester to find out if you can get into a class. Furthermore, if you've obtained an Add Code during the first two weeks of class but are enjoying a "trial period" before using it to register officially, be aware that Add Codes are only valid until the end of Week 2. Some good hearted instructors may try to add one or two students past the enrollment limit during this adjustment period, but any student remaining in the classroom by Week 3 will either be officially enrolled or be forced to leave the classroom. It's District policy.

10. I think I was assessed incorrectly for my class. What should I do?

You should talk to your course instructor, who will then advise you about whether you should be reassessed. Newly admitted students are placed into their first English classes at Grossmont based upon their transcripts and their assessment results. (See "Assessment" for further information.) This is a proven process, but errant assessments sometimes do happen. Most instructors request a writing sample during the first week to determine this. If your instructor or you suspect that you're in the wrong writing course for your skills, you'll be advised to schedule (during those first two weeks) a diagnostic test with the Department Chair. However, taking another test does not guarantee that you will be "blue carded" into another class. ("Blue carded" means an administrator, such as the Department Chair, can fast-track you into another course that has an opening.) During periods of impacted enrollment, it's quite difficult to find an open class with the same schedule. Consequently, most students are advised to remain in the course in which they've already secured a seat. Again, do not initiate the process of a transfer to another level course by yourself. Request advice from your instructor during the first week of the class.

11. What's the sequence of composition courses I have to take?

Composition is the primary English course offered at Grossmont College, and success fully completing the proper sequence of composition courses not only opens the gate to other higher-level English courses of special interest (such as literature and creative writing) but also satisfies the demands of many degree programs, as well as Grossmont College's General Education requirements. If you're a new student at Grossmont College, your English skills will be assessed to determine where in the sequence of composition classes you should be placed. Assessment happens in one or more of the following evaluative ways: high school transcripts; transcripts of course work completed at other colleges and universities; degrees and certificates completed;assessment testing. Some courses are remedial (meaning, they focus on improving writing,reading and verbal skills to make students more "college ready"), while others are transferable to other California universities and/or colleges. The goal of the Composition sequence is to prepare you in stages for the challenges of college writing, reading and research in a way that lets you take those skills with you to a four-year institution. That's why English 110 is designed to introduce students to the process of composing essays, and English 120 addresses the critical skills to develop content and responses to outside texts, while English 124 focuses on the more advanced concerns of reasoning, critical thinking and research. You can find out more about the complete sequences of these classes in "Composition Courses."

12. Why can't I just take only those classes with transferable credit?

At an accredited institution such as Grossmont College, undertaking an instructional program means completing preparatory courses that qualify you to enroll in degree courses and transfer-level courses. It's possible to be eligible for some transfer credit courses when applying for admission to the College, but this requires either assessment testing or completion of equivalent college-level or advanced placement course work. Grossmont College offers a variety of resources to help you navigate this complex arena, including Freshman Academy, Prerequisite Clearance Info, the Transfer Center, Transcripts, and Counseling. These can be found in the "Help for Students" section of the Grossmont College official website.

13. Which English classes transfer credit to four-year institutions?

From English 108 (College Vocabulary) and upward, each course offered by Grossmont College's English Department has full or limited transfer credit. Some courses, however, are transferable only to California State Universities (CSU), while others have additional transferability to the University of California system (UC). Most satisfy the General Education requirement for Grossmont College. Details about transferability are available, both, in the official College Catalog as well as in the course descriptions provided on this website. Please use the main menu on this site for more information about our wide variety of composition, reading, creative writing, and literature courses.

14. I want to visit my English instructor's office. Where is it?!

Department MapOffice hours are posted to your course syllabus, the instructor's website, Blackboard (for those instructors who use it), and office doors. Instructor contact info, including links to instructor websites, can be found in our English Department "Faculty Directory." Part-time instructors at Grossmont College are not required to hold office hours, but many do just the same, simply out of dedication to helping students. Instructors who do not hold regular office hours may not have a reserved office space or may choose to use the classroom for this purpose. Regardless, most will arrange to meet with you outside of the class time to give you the attention you need. Although some English and Reading instructors have offices in the Tech Mall/LRC (Library Resource Center), most keep offices in Building 52, on the northeast corner of the main campus. Some faculty have offices located in the hard-to-find Building 50. These are Rooms 590 A through T. This older street-level building on the northeast corner of our campus can be accessed by way of the north-facing stairway (i.e.,facing the direction of the athletic field) at the end of the breezeway between Buildings 51 and 52. You can also access it from Parking Lot 5, just north of the motorcycle area.

15. Is the syllabus for my English course on-line?

Yes, most likely. As part of their course introductions, Instructors usually say where you can find an electronic version of the course syllabus. It's best to ask your instructor if you can't remember, but there are several places to look in the meantime. Firstly, all full-time English instructors, and many part-time instructors, maintain a website or homepage, where links to course syllabi might be found. (See "Faculty Directory" to find your instructor's homepage.) Secondly, many instructors either keep a separate website for each course they teach, or dedicate one or more pages on their instructor websites to the course you're in; look there for your course syllabus. Finally, a good many full- and part-time instructors use Blackboard, a web-based multi-functional educational platform where assignments and syllabi can be downloaded and lessons can be posted. Since it is not required for faculty to use Blackboard, you should find out in advance if your instructor makes your course materials available through it. If all else fails, it sometimes pays to do a general internet search: your instructor's name + "Grossmont College" + the name of the course you're in.

16. I have other questions than these. Whom should I ask?

Once again, if your relevant question is not on this page, don't give up! E-mail one of your English instructors, or contact the appropriate Coordinator or Chair listed in the "Directory of Programs and Services." Of course, one of the most effective ways to find answers not only offers a user-friendly, real-time interface with access to a comprehensive suite of certified interactive features, but is also capable of lightning-fast data transfer: a good ol' face-to-face conversation with your English instructor.

Last Updated: 08/15/2016
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