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What Happens If You Fail A Class In College?

Attending college is an exciting part of one’s learning journey. The abundance of students, resources, and activities contribute to a friendly environment that makes it easy to find enjoyment.

However, the allure of enjoyment can oftentimes result in poor academic performance. It isn’t just parties or friendly gatherings that take time away from studying, but it can also be the innocent decision to get carried away in utilizing all of the resources.

For aspiring creative writers, you won’t be the first student to be engulfed in a fictional text while forgetting about that important natural science deadline. Similarly, students in other disciplines can easily get distracted through their exploration, resulting in a missed assignment or two. 

If you’ve ever wondered, “What happens if you fail a class in college?”, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, I’ll address everything you need to know about the process and how it may or may not affect your academic future.

What To Do If You Fail A College Class

Failing a college class is not the end of the world! You can easily bounce back by retaking the course.

Check with your university if the course is offered during another semester. If not, check the transfer equivalency agreement to see if you can take the class remotely or on-campus at another institution, such as a community college.

Besides impacting your GPA, the biggest setback of failing a class is that you’ll be a few credits shy of fulfilling the graduation requirements, which means you’ll need to retake the course or take another course that fulfills the same general education or core requirements. 

What Happens If You Fail A Class In College With Financial Aid?

When you fail a class while taking financial aid, it’s important to meet with your guidance counselor immediately. Usually, failing one class will not impact financial aid, although this is contingent on your policy.

Financial aid generally requires a minimum number of credits taken each semester depending on if you are a part or full-time student, and a minimum GPA, usually 2.0. If you fail a class and your GPA drops to under the minimum, then it’s a cause for concern.

However, if you just had one small bump in the road, then the failed course is unlikely to impact your financial aid. Make sure to check with your counselor and review the Satisfactory Academic Policy of your institution. 

Is It Normal To Fail A Class In College?

It would be misleading to say that everybody is failing classes in college, but it definitely happens more often than other students are willing to share. Schools are there to support students whenever needed, and virtually all universities provide a Student Support Center to help with notetaking, writing tutoring, and other forms of assistance to help students succeed.

Failing one course in college will do little to nothing to your total academic standing. It’s not until you consistently fall short that some form of academic intervention will be made by the university.

In the beginning, the worst thing that’s likely to happen from failing courses is that it may limit the number of courses you can take until you can prove to go over the full-time course maximum. Despite this limitation, it’s probably in the best interest of any student to take a break on course rigor and focus on strengthening their weaknesses.  

Failing A Class In College Is A Learning Experience

In summary, there is no need to panic when failing a college class. It’s worrisome enough that students are often asking “What happens if you fail a class in college?” but this just contributes to unnecessary anxiety.

Instead, anticipate that courses in college are going to require more studying, focus, and effort in order to do well. Additionally, with large class sizes in the introductory courses, you may be surprised by the little attention you receive from the teaching staff, which requires you to be independent and in charge of your deadlines.

Keep your calendar updated with deadlines, put together a study schedule so you are consistently reading the material, and don’t fret if things go astray. Work with your college support services to remedy the situation and do your best to avoid repeating your mistakes. 

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Chris works as a college admissions counselor/consultant and teacher with students from over 10 countries.

He's earned master's degrees from Wayne State and Harvard University, completed the CELTA (Certified English Language Teaching to Adults) certification in 2012, and accumulated six years of experience in tutoring various subjects. The list includes TOEFL, AP/SAT US History, AP/SAT World History, SSAT, Political Science, World Civilization, Essay Development, and Government.

Through college counseling, Chris has helped students transfer into many reputable universities, earn admission into top 20 undergraduate programs, and he has assisted working professionals in achieving their goal of placing into the most selective graduate and professional programs.

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