Heyo! I’m Emma Pan, from Westwood, Massachusetts, and I’m a first year at Olin College of Engineering. Believe it or not, Olin is actually closer to my home than my high school (Winsor) was. (Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to know about what it’s like being a local!)

At Olin, I am a student rep for CORe (student government), Hermione Granger in A Very Potter Musical (produced by FWOP, our 100% student-run theater group), a violist in OCO (the Olin Conductorless Orchestra), and a new member of IRL, the robotic arm subteam in Robolab. In case you haven’t noticed, Olinspeak has a lot of acronyms :D. In my free time, I host movie showings in my wonderful corner room, get involved in games like the great Boop War (one tap on the nose = one point), play as Fryda in a DnD campaign, mooch whenever there’s food in the kitchen, and seize the day when there’s a scavenger hunt/adventure around. There is much to talk about, but for now, I’m going to let you in on the little-known perk of being a first year at Olin College.

Whispered in the halls, shouted in the lounges, and internalized by every Oliner’s autocorrect, is the phrase: “PASS/NO RECORD!” (PNR). Allow me to explain. For the first semester of your first year at Olin, every class you take will either show up on your transcript as a “Pass” or not show up at all. It may take a second to digest just how much of a blessing this is...but picture this: For a whole semester, as long as you do at least half of your work, you are free to have fun, play in the sun, spend time on the things you’re really passionate about, and take crazy risks with no consequences on your transcript.

Believe it or not, during pass/no record, most people still do their homework, learning by their own volition. We do our classwork because we want to, not because we have to, and in some projects, like the hopper project, people spend hours working to go above and beyond the requirements. Pass/no record gives us the leeway to invest more time where we’re interested and less where we’re not. For me, pass/no record meant taking on more ambitious project goals, joining a bunch of interesting clubs, and going on spontaneous adventures into Boston, Parcel B (the woods, filled with surprises), the kitchen (a microcosm in itself), and Babson (the bigger, more traditional college next door).

While I probably would have done some of this anyways without the help of pass/no record, I would have done so with guilt and stress. Because of pass no record, I have a better state of mind than I did in high school, and am free to spend much of my time interacting with the people around me, instead of being cooped up studying in my room. Next semester, when pass/no record is over, I’ll have to adjust to having grades, but will try to retain the carefree mindset I’ve developed during the reign of PNR; after all, pass/no record isn’t just a phrase, it’s a lifestyle.

Excited baby!

First years upon learning that Pass/No Record is a thing.

Posted in: Emma '21, Class of 2021