Here’s What to Do Next if You Have Failed a College Class

The following post is sponsored by Kent State University

During college, no matter what degree you’re studying or how hard you’re working (or not), it’s possible you might fail a class. This happens to even the most stellar students; it can be stressful, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the end of the world — or even the end of your career. Most times failing one class won’t set back your career plans at all, or not for long.

If you’re in this situation, read on for some tips on what to do next to help you move forward, so you achieve your career goals and prevent the issue from arising again.

Investigate the Consequences

For starters, find out exactly what the consequences will be of you having failed a class. While it’s easy to get anxious when you get this kind of result, the fact is that oftentimes consequences aren’t anywhere near as bad as you think.

They do tend to vary, depending on what kind of course you take, so what happens for an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing degree may be different to what happens in an online criminal justice master’s degree, but the sooner you find out, the sooner you can take steps to move forward.

Talk to Your Professors

Next, go and talk to the professor who failed you. Begin by exploring if it’s possible that an error was made in the calculation of your grade, especially if you really feel like you should have done much better. If you think you should have earned higher marks, bring along any previous papers, tests, lab assignments or other collateral you could use to show why you’re disputing the results. Always discuss scores in a non-confrontational and respectful way.

In addition, if there were any unexpected circumstances that made an impact on your attendance or performance, such as hospitalization or a death in the family, mention this to your instructor, and see if there is any way you could make up the missed assignment or test or earn extra credit some other way.

You may also potentially be able to retake the course. If so, ask your professor for advice on how you might be able to do better next time if you failed due to a lack of comprehension.

Evaluate What Went Wrong and Make a Plan

Stop and think about what actually went wrong with your studies. To fix a problem, after all, you must evaluate it and determine the cause. For example, did you flunk your class because you kept skipping sessions, didn’t submit assignments on time, didn’t study enough or didn’t take enough notes in class to help you understand content later?

Perhaps you were so busy working a job or socializing that you didn’t have enough energy left for your classes? Or did you know you were struggling with the work but didn’t seek assistance? Or was the class too advanced for your knowledge levels, or the professor simply a bad fit for your learning style? No matter what the issues were behind your less-than-ideal results, by working out exactly where the problems lay, you can do something about them.

After that, make a plan for how you can do better in future. You may need to commit to having a much better attendance rate, for instance, or hire a tutor to help you. You could do better if you take the class with a different instructor or if you start with a more introductory course first. Create a plan for moving forward, and not only will you be more likely to get better results next time, but you should also feel more in charge and less stressed, to boot.

Speak With Someone About Your Feelings

If you’ve taken the above steps yet can’t shake the feeling of failure, or if you have noticed that your confidence has taken a real hit, speak with someone about your feelings. It particularly helps to talk with a counselor or other qualified mental-health practitioner who can let you vent and help you increase your self-esteem and move past the negative feelings.

If you don’t want to speak with a professional, at least chat with a close friend or family member. Other students who have failed classes in the past can also be good to talk to as they’re usually able to understand how you’re feeling.

Look for any positives you can take out of the situation, too. You are sure to find some silver linings if you look hard enough. For example, you probably learned a great deal from failing the class, whether about yourself or the way college courses work. This failure may actually propel you on to work harder in future and help set you on a better path.