What to Do If You’re Failing a College Class

Midterm grades are out and you’re suddenly overcome with feelings of panic.

You’re failing a college class you have no idea how you’re going to dig yourself out of this mess.

Thankfully, there is still a whole second part of the semester left, which means you have a fighting chance to pass this class..

Odds are that you got the F in the first place because you either a) didn’t understand the course material, b) aren’t going to class, or c) haven’t been preparing yourself for the tests and assignments enough.

Knowing this, let’s talk about what changes you can start making right now so that the F becomes nothing but a thing of the past! (P.S. I also have a post on what I learned after getting my first F on a college test – check it out!)

What to Do If You're Failing a College Class | Your approach hasn't been working. Let's talk about changing your study habits, managing your time better, and asking the right questions so that you can get better grades in class. This is great advice for college students. Click to learn more!


Change Your Study Approach

It’s something I hear a lot – “I studied the material but when it came time for the test, I couldn’t seem to remember a thing.”

It sucks when your brain decides to give out under pressure.

To better prepare yourself in the future, it might help to take a different approach to studying. For example, if you’ve been rereading chapters, try quizzing yourself and taking summary notes instead. This will help your memory recall better, especially on test day.

Another thing you may want to change is the way you take notes.

If you’ve been taking your computer to class, try taking a notebook and pen instead. Physically writing things down has been shown to provide better memory recall, and it will also keep you from getting distracted by the dozens of other tabs you have open in your browser.

If you need some other ideas, I recommend reading 10 Study Tips for College Students and My Secrets for Getting A’s in College (and How You Can Too).

Do a Time Management Evaluation

Managing time wisely is one of the biggest struggles that I hear from not only college students, but working adults as well.

With the rise of social media and the internet in general, procrastination is at an all-time high because there are so many things vying for our attention. One simple Facebook check can turn into a two hour Newsfeed sighting. Once you’re done browsing through all of your friends’ statuses, you realize how much time you’ve wasted and you feel even worse about the situation than when you started.

Friends, you have to learn how to take back control.

You may need to start small. For instance, if you’ve never made a to-do list before, you might want to put just three things on there that you know you can accomplish and get done before the day is over. This will give you “small wins” that can be used for motivation to continue to keep up with your tasks.

Others of you may have a system in place, but you haven’t been allotting enough time to get your studying or assignments completed.

Some questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Am I studying for my hardest class enough?
  • Am I feeling too crunched on time to get my assignments completed?
  • Am I really reading the material or simply skimming it and moving on?
  • How many hours am I actually studying every week?

Be honest as you answer these questions because they can provide some extremely valuable insight into why you’re failing a college class and what changes you can make to rectify the situation.

If you want some extra guidance, I have a time management and productivity course that was made with you in mind! It’s called Stress-Free Scheduling and it gives you all the tools you need to get your life in order so that you can make good grades while enjoying your college years. You can get more details here.

Want to get your feet wet first? Try my 7 day email course called Productive Planning. You can read more at Be a More Productive College Student in 7 Days.

What to Do If You're Failing a College Class | Your approach hasn't been working. Let's talk about changing your study habits, managing your time better, and asking the right questions so that you can get better grades in class. This is great advice for college students. Click to learn more!

Failing a college class? Get your schedule in order!


Ask More Probing Questions

I bring this point up for two reasons:

  1. A lot of college students don’t like to ask questions during class time in fear of looking dumb or having other students get on their case for holding up the lecture.
  2. Students who do ask questions and/or visit their professors during office hours often don’t ask the right questions.

If you’re failing a college class, you have to let go of both of these things.

Forget about the students around you for a minute. If you don’t understand something or need better explanation, then please don’t hesitate to raise your hand and ask. If you just can’t muster up the courage to do that, stay after class a few minutes and talk to your professor then.

Now, let’s talk about the questions you need to ask.

Simply saying, “I don’t understand this” or “Can you explain this more” isn’t going to cut it.

You need to be specific with your questions and have a set goal in mind when you are asking them.

For example, if you are taking biology and you don’t understand how a cell goes through its different phases, you could ask the professor to draw a basic picture outline of how this works.

This idea works for getting feedback on your failed assignments as well.

Instead of looking at the F on your graded assignment, ask your professor exactly what you missed, where you can find the answer, and how you can better prepare in the future for this type of question. If it’s a paper, you may want to have them walk you through a paragraph that they graded and then take notes on what would have gotten you more points.

Be Consistent

Consistency can make or break you in the college world.

I know you might not feel like getting out of bed every day to go to class, but you need to be consistent with your attendance.

I once had a professor who counted the amount of students in class every time we met and if there were less than a certain number, then she would give us the answer to one of the test questions.

This was a freebie that tons of students missed out on just because they ditched class.

Not only does being consistent with your attendance open up the door for potential freebies like this to occur, but it also helps your brain to stay in a routine. This is extremely helpful in connecting the material from class to class.

Finally, being consistent shows your professor that you’re trying. Trust me when I say that when you’re failing a college class, simply being present every day can have an impact on your final grade.

Get Some Fresh Perspectives

Sometimes our brains just don’t process information in a way that makes sense to us.

For me, the struggle always came with math.

I remember sitting in one of my teacher’s classrooms trying to do a problem over and over again because I just couldn’t get my head around the concept of how to use the formulas.

One day, my friend joined me and walked me through how they solved the problem.

Suddenly, a little light went on in my head and I was able to actually work through the problem more successfully than I had the ten times before.

Sometimes we need to get the perspectives of other people to bring fresh ideas into our minds and to introduce us to new ways of thinking.

Fresh perspectives could also be new study environments or formats.

If something you’re doing isn’t working, then change it up until you find something that does!

Other Resources for Anyone Failing a College Class

If you want more resources on how to get better grades, I highly recommend checking out any of these posts that I’ve written:



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