Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About Failing a College Class

Failing a college class may not be a disaster

A student sitting at a desk looking at piece of paper. The paper has a red "F" on it. Superimposed over the student are four questions to ask if you're failing a college class. Does your professor offer extra credit? Can a tutor help you raise your grade? Is it possible to retake the class? Should you consider a different major?

ThoughtCo / Bailey Mariner

When the semester comes to a close and you find yourself failing an important college class, it can feel like the end of the world. The good news is, it's not. Here are some tips to keep things in perspective. 

A Last-Ditch Effort May Be Worthwhile

If it's the end of term and your grade is final, you're probably stuck with it. But if you have some time before your professor finalizes your grade, ask what you can do to avoid failing. The professor may give you guidance on what to do for the rest of the term to raise your grade, or perhaps you'll find out about opportunities for extra credit. Before you ask, think about why you're failing in the first place. If it's because you've been skipping class or not putting in enough effort, it's unlikely your professor will want to help you.

The Consequences of Failing a Class 

There are, of course, negative consequences to failing a college course. A failing grade will likely hurt your GPA (unless you took the course pass/fail), which could jeopardize your financial aid. The failure will end up on your college transcripts and could hurt your chances of getting into graduate school or graduating when you originally planned to. Lastly, failing a class in college can be a bad thing simply because it makes you feel awkward, embarrassed, and unsure about your ability to succeed in college.

Then again, your college transcript may never come into play when you start looking for jobs. Your situation might also help you better understand yourself as a student. It might be the kick in the pants you needed to grasp the importance of going to class on a regular basis, doing (and keeping up with) the reading, and reaching out for help when you need it. Or your failed grade might help you realize that you are in the wrong major, that you are taking too heavy of a class load, or that you need to focus more on academics and less on extracurricular activities.

The Next Steps 

Try looking at the bigger picture: What are the bad parts of your situation? What kinds of consequences must you deal with now that you perhaps were not expecting? What changes do you need to make about your future?

Conversely, don't be too hard on yourself. Failing a class in college happens to even the best of students, and it's unrealistic to expect that you'll be able to do everything perfectly in college. You messed up. You failed a class. But in most cases, you probably didn't ruin your life or put yourself in some kind of disastrous situation.

Focus on what good you can take away from a bad situation. Consider what you learned and what you need to do to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Going forward, do whatever you need to do to keep making progress toward your academic goals. If you ultimately succeed, that "F" won't seem so bad, after all.

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About Failing a College Class." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2020, August 25). Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About Failing a College Class. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About Failing a College Class." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).