What to Do If You Fail a Class In College

Simple Steps Can Prevent Things From Getting Worse

student frustrated while looking at laptop in school library
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Even stellar students fail college classes sometimes. It's not the end of the world, but it is a good idea to make a game plan to minimize the damage to your academic record and prevent it from happening again. 

Check Your Academics

Learn what impact the grade will have on your academics—what will it do to your Grade Point Average? Are you no longer eligible for the next course in a series? Could you be placed on probation? Depending on your situation, you may need to:

  • Rearrange your schedule for next semester by finding courses that don't have a prerequisite.
  • Arrange to take the class again.
  • Take a summer class to stay on track to graduate on time.

Check Your Financial Aid

Many schools allow for an academic slip-up here and there (financially speaking), but if you are on academic probation, are not taking enough units, or have any other sort of complication, failing a class can have a major impact on your financial aid. Check with the financial aid office about what your failed grade may mean for your particular situation.

Check in With Your Advisors

If you can, schedule a meeting with your professor, and find out if she has any suggestions. Will her class be scheduled again next year or over the summer? Does she have any recommendations for tutoring by a graduate student? Are there any books she can recommend to bone up for next time?

One of the reasons you have an academic advisor is to help you out in situations like this. Reach out to her: she will likely know the ins and outs of the academic process at your university.

Check Your Reasons

Be honest with yourself about why you failed. Here are some common reasons:

  • Focusing too much on partying and not enough on academics.
  • Overcommitting to too many extracurriculars or a part-time job.
  • Procrastinating on assignments and studying.
  • Turning in assignments late.
  • Having a bad professor or teaching assistant whom you should avoid in the future.

Figuring out where things went wrong can help you figure out what you'll need to get right in order to pass this class (and any other) in the future. Find another way to socialize than partying.

Check in With Your Parents

Tell your parents or anyone else you may need to. Your parents may not have a legal right to your grades, but you may still need to tell them. Putting the failed grade out into the open will give you one less thing to stress about and, hopefully, provide you with the support you need to prevent it from happening again.

Move On

Move on and let go. So you failed a class. True, it can have major implications, but it's not the end of the world. Admit you messed up, figure out what happened, and move on. Since you're in college to learn, take away what you can from the experience and make the most of it — because that's what college is supposed to be all about anyway, right?