This period of doubt is when we'll see the character of graduate admissions. I suspect its going to be extremely unequal, with no regard for the context of the grades.
Honestly, I have no idea how the admissions committees are going to handle this. Good luck to you startz.
For one, they cannot penalize people for the mandatory P/F being out of their control - but there's a massive question mark that remains; it is literally like the transcript comes with "between A+ and C" for each class.
At the same time, they will want to give due credit to people who were able to get high marks in difficult classes like real analysis or graduate micro.
Especially for those that are coming from less prestigious institutions, I hope that this doesn't mean committees will put slightly less weights on coursework and more on letters, because taking difficult (i.e. graduate/advanced undergraduate) coursework is one of the big "equalizers" someone who is not coming from a top undergraduate institution can do to break into a top-30 school.
Let me also say I appreciate the discussion on this topic because I may have to figure out what to do about the situation for next year's admits. Hearing various suggestions and viewpoints is helpful.
Perhaps you could put out a request that the relevant professors somehow send the class rank (for the class they taught) of the student in the transcript package? This way, the professor does not need to determine curved grades, and can easily do this by looking at the data. This does seem like it is additional work, but perhaps it'll inform your judgment and provide for some fairness.
However, this does seem to go against the purpose of the mandatory P/F system..
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