For a college student who has never come face to face with the prospect of failing a class, the predicament may feel like the end of the world. There are undoubtedly many reasons for which you might find yourself in this situation. It could be that you are trying to juggle too much by working full time and going to school. It could be that your course load is unrealistically heavy, and you don’t have the necessary prerequisites for the class you are failing, or it could be as simple as ineffective time management.
How then do you deal with the imminent reality of failing a class?
*Deal with the problem now –
The most important thing that you can do when you discover that you are failing or about to fail a class is deal with it before it’s too late. Figure out what it is that is causing you to fail the class. If it is because of an inability or unwillingness to manage time efficiently or do the required work for the course, then all of the burden of fixing the problem falls squarely on your shoulders.
You need to decide whether you are willing to adjust your lifestyle and do whatever you have to do to ensure that you pass the class. If you’ve been ill, get a note from the doctor. That may give you some extra time to do whatever it is you need to do.
If you are failing a class because you have an inordinately large class load, drop the class you are failing before your overall GPA is jeopardized. Dropping the class is a wiser move than trying to stick it out when you already have an intensely demanding course load.
Every student has a faculty advisor who helps them decide what courses to take to best fulfill the student’s goals and aspirations. Talking to your advisor is a great place to start first because they can help you see what you need to do next.
*Talk to the professor –
Go talk to the professor. The best way to find out how to improve your grade or to find out specifically, what you are doing wrong or what you aren’t doing that you should be doing is to ask the professor. A professor who sees a student taking responsibility for their own predicament will likely be much more sympathetic and willing to help.
Perhaps the professor will connect you with a student who is doing extremely well, so that that student can assist you and help you understand what you are not understanding.
*Develop effective time management and study skills
It is critical that every college student learn how to manage their time properly and effectively. This goes hand in hand with having good study skills.If you have a job while you are going to school, learning how to manage your time and budget properly for your studying is even more essential. Learning how to balance all of the obligations of your life is essential, and this is something that you’ll deal with throughout life from now on.
You can study for hours on end, but if you aren’t mastering or understanding the material, you are basically wasting your time. Rather than try to go the route of studying everything all at once, do it in increments. You will master the material much faster and much more solidly if you chew away at it bit by bit.
*Find a study partner –
If you are having trouble with the class because you don’t understand stuff, sometimes the best way to understand it is by working with a buddy who can talk you through things, explain them or drill you on things. When you study with a fellow student, you can make quizzes for each other, help one another memorize things, discuss things or work out problems together.
*Do your reading –
In most college courses, a professor’s lectures are intricately entwined with the reading material. You may feel completely lost and like you don’t understand a thing from the lectures, but if you make a point of reading your assigned reading material BEFORE the class, all of that confusion will probably resolve itself right there in the lecture. Doing your reading in advance will help you be a productive participant in class discussions and professors often factor class participation into the course grade.
Do your reading in manageable chunks. It’s not realistic for any student to expect to be able to retain material and to master it if they try to sit for hours on head just to catch up on the reading. Spend an hour or hour and a half reading 50 pages and then schedule time to do the rest of the reading.
By “scheduling” time to do your reading, you are telling yourself that you have an obligation at that time, just as if you had to be at work during those times.
*Turn your assignments in –
Even if you get penalized for turning an assignment in after it’s due, that penalty will be minor compared to the trouble that you’ll be faced with for not turning your assignments in at all. Talk to the professor and make some sort of arrangement so that you can get your work done, turn it in and get credit for it.
*Get a tutor –
If you are really having trouble with a course, and the trouble has nothing to do with laziness, an over extended schedule or external things, then it may be worth your while to get a tutor. The simplest way to find out how to do that is by going to your academic adviser and asking them for assistance.
If you aren’t doing well because you have some sort of disability, talk to the professor and then contact the people at the Student Disability Services office on campus. You may be entitled to free tutoring and other accommodations that can help you pass the class satisfactorily.
*Consider dropping the class –
If the reason that you are failing the class is because you don’t have the proper prerequisite or because you discover that you should have taken some sort of introductory class first, you may be better off dropping the class than allowing a bad grade to taint your GPA. This should be your last resort.
Failing classes is a common occurrence on college campuses. It happens for all sorts of reasons, some of which may or may not be within your control. There is no excuse for blowing off a notice that you’re failing a course and then expecting things to turn out okay.
These days, students depend on scholarships to assist them and their families in paying all of the college related expenses. Many students don’t realize or consider that by failing a class, they may be putting their scholarship at risk. Don’t forget the reason for which you came to college in the first place, and deal with the situation by talking to the professor, your academic adviser or the dean.