College students are notorious for pulling all-nighters in an effort to make the grade.
But what if you attended a college where there were no grades? This sounds like a science fiction tale, but there are actually colleges without grades where students aren’t awarded A’s, B’s, or C’s. Instead, they’re awarded narratives.
What’s a Narrative Transcript?
In lieu of traditional grades, some schools measure student performance by providing written feedback. The narrative transcript is the story of your accomplishments, weaknesses, and growth in a class, according to your professor. It’s something you can show your parents or make a part of your portfolio when it comes to graduate schools and employers.
Narrative transcripts have grown in popularity for many reasons, including:
- They offer a response to inconsistent and unclear grading in education.
- They alleviate pressure on students and allow them to expand their mind a bit more.
- The rise of e-portfolios have given grades less importance.
Pros & Cons of Narrative Transcripts
|Combats grade inflation||Some scholarships require a report of letter grades.|
|Eliminates pressure, allows students to be more intellectually curious||Can be much more work for both students and professors|
|No grades doesn't mean a school lacks prestige (ex: Yale Law School).||Could be hard to transfer from a narrative transcript school to a traditional institution|
|More descriptive than grades||May be met with skepticism|
Colleges with Narrative Transcripts
There are very few schools in the country that employ only narrative transcripts as “grades.”
Niche Academics Grade
|--||Antioch University (Locations in CA, NH, OH, and WA)|
|B-||Evergreen State College||Olympia||WA||3,872||98%|
|B-||Fairhaven College at Western Washington University||Bellingham||WA|
|A-||New College of Florida||Sarasota||FL||801||60%|
|Northeastern University School of Law||Boston||MA||185|
|--||Yale University Law School||New Haven||CT||650||9%|
Note: This list is being compiled on an ongoing basis. If you see a school missing here, please contact us.
Colleges with Unique Grading Systems
While some schools rely on narrative transcripts only, some utilize a combination of traditional grades and narrative evaluations, and other schools even have optional letter marks.
View a full list of colleges with unique grading systems.
The Bottom Line
The main thing colleges with narrative transcripts emphasize is results over grades. They provide a more personal look at a student’s progress over the course of a term. Instead of students wondering why they received one particular letter of the alphabet on their report card, they get specific details and suggestions they can take with them into their next college term and beyond.