What to do if you have failed a class in college

Credit: ThumbPress.com

Credit: ThumbPress.com

Your college plans probably included making a lot of new friends, creating some epic memories and, of course, blowing your professors’ minds with your awesome intellect. But sometimes those plans go awry, and you find yourself having failed a class in college. If this happens to you, read on to find out what to do to get your college career back on track.

Why it matters

In case you didn’t realize, failing a class in college is not only embarrassing, it can have serious ramifications for the rest of your higher education experience.

What Happens When You Fail a Few Classes During Your College Career?” by Fitzalan Gorman for Globalpost.com details what can happen if your grades slip:

  • Academic Suspension—Most schools require a certain grade point average for you to stay a student in good standing. Slip below it and you could be asked to leave.
  • Loss of Financial Aid—Some financial aid packages are academic-based, and should your grades drop, you will forfeit your scholarships or grants.
  • Permanent Record—You probably can take the class over, but chances are the original failing grade will stay on your academic record.

How you can learn from it

The worst, or so you think, has happened and you have failed a class in college. What to do? One thing is learn from the experience so it doesn’t happen again. Part of that process will involve meeting with your professor. “You Failed Your Class… Now What?” posted by Ellen Bremen for her blog The Chatty Professor on December 13, 2011, offers some advice on what you shouldn’t say when you meet with your professor.


  • Get angry and blame the professor.
  • Express shock that you have failed.
  • Beg or bribe to improve the grade.

Instead, Bremen advises figuring out why you failed. For instance, if you did your best, but that wasn’t enough, then, “What you likely didn’t do was see your professor enough for help or check your grades earlier to find out how your average was coming along.” Next recognize that there is probably nothing you can do about the F, but ask the professor what they suggest your next steps should be.

Bremen adds, “an “F” does not mean that you can’t or won’t reach your educational goals. Many great students have failed a class … and went on to overcome it and excel.”

What to do next

You’ve had the tough talk with your professor. Now what? If you have failed a class in college, there are a couple more conversations you are going to have to have in order to try and put your college career back on track. In “How College Students Can Learn From Failing a Class” for U.S.News.com on January 11, 2012, Kelci Lynn Lucier offers this checklist:

  1. Check on your financial aid package
  2. Meet with your academic advisor to see if you need to revise your class schedule
  3. Ask your advisor if the failed class will affect your major

Lucier also advises college students to be truthful about what happened. Ask yourself if you did everything you could have, like “get tutoring, look into switching into a different lab section or lecture with another professor, or find a study group to work with so that you could all review the material that might not have been presented clearly in class.”

Finally, were there other factors that impacted your grade? Were you too committed to other activities or did you party too much? College is a learning experience, and some lessons may be harder than others. You have to balance the opportunities you have for fun and growth outside of class with the importance of your academic career.

One of the most important lessons to walk away with in terms of what to do if you have failed a class in college is to always remember your main goal, which is graduation. Don’t let one failed class in college snowball. With a little effort, you can turn that bad grade around.

Have you failed a class in college? Share what lessons you learned from the experience in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. depressed writer says:

    its easier said than done.today my result of one the semester came out and it shocked me so much as in 4 subjects out of 5 i got outstanding grade but in just 1 subject there was a F.i just cried whole day.it do gives you shock when you studied hard day and night and the outcome is not good.right now i feel like i cant do anything now.the future looks dark to me.and i do agree that with a little effort we can overcome this but what about embarrassment and feeling a little discouraged about doing that thing again.i just dont know what to do now??


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