What Happens if You Fail a Class in College?

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So you failed a class in college. Maybe it’s because you’re not yet used to the new system. Maybe it’s a result of procrastination. Or you got unlucky. Whatever the reason, a failed class has its consequences on your GPA and your academic pursuits. But you can’t continue beating yourself up when the only way forward is to roll your sleeves up and get to work.

Here’s an article that shows you how you can pick yourself up. We’ll also answer even the most random questions, like “What happens if you fail a class in college three times.”

What is a Failing Grade in College?What is a Failing Grade in College?

One of the first questions that come to mind when you’re entering college is what a failing grade is in college. Failing a class in college is common.

Statistics from Ohio State University show that around 10% of undergraduates fail different classes every year. That means 1 of every ten undergraduates fails a class. But what exactly is a failing grade? Most colleges qualify any final grade below 60% as a failing grade. Depending on the GPA scale applied by your college, this can translate to anything below 1.0 or 0.7 GPA, counting as a failed class.

Failing a class means a 0 on your transcript and, by extension, a reduced GPA. Failed classes can affect your GPA, although there are still colleges that do not include pass/fail classes when calculating GPA.

How Bad is Failing a College Class?

How Bad is Failing a College Class?

We all dread failing a class, probably because of the consequences that follow. But that doesn’t mean an end to your world. Instead, it’s an opportunity for you to re-evaluate your methods and give it a better try. Yes, a failed grade will affect your GPA, and probably jeopardize your financial aid. But it’s the psychological impact that affects students most. You didn’t set out to fail in the first place, but the mistake had happened. It’s now time for you to evaluate why you failed and make corrections where possible.

Again, you need to also consider that your college transcript may never be the criterion for getting a job. Besides, failing a grade may be what helps you understand yourself so you can push to improve.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College?

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College?

Failing a class is one of the last things any student wants. However, situations can sometimes get out of hand due to extenuating circumstances. Issues like sicknesses or family troubles could get you so distracted that you fail to perform well in an examination. In such cases, we expect you to be curious about knowing what happens if you fail a course in university. Here are some of the consequences of failing a class.

Impact on Your GPA

This is perhaps the most obvious consequence of failing a class. GPA stands for grade point average and is calculated by assigning numerical values to letter grades. The total of numerical values assigned to your grades are divided by the total number of classes you offered that semester.

For example, if D=1, C=2, B=3, and A=4, it means an F will be equal to zero. However, the failed class is still included when dividing your GPA. As a result, the failed class will negatively impact your GPA.

While college GPA may not necessarily be a criterion for entering the workforce immediately after graduation, it is still a big deal for students who would want to go further to graduate school after college graduation.

Retaking Prerequisite Classes

If you fail a prerequisite class (that is a class required for your major), you’ll need to retake it. However, it’s also important to understand that different colleges have different retake policies. While some colleges will allow you to retake as many failed classes, others limit the number of classes you can retake. In any case, it’s important to find out your school’s policies on time so you can know how to handle a failed class.

Academic Probation and Possible Dismissal

Colleges are typically very competitive, so it’s common to see institutions create strict policies around failing classes. Some schools will put you on probation if you fail too many courses. Others may even recommend dismissal on the grounds that you are unfit for the major or that you’re not taking your education seriously.

Loss of Financial Aids

We’ve also heard students ask about what happens if you fail a class in college with financial aid. Most scholarship boards and grant offices have their own policies regarding granting aid to failing students. In some situations, you may be required to repay the grant. Some grants are also heavily dependent on your GPA. Such grants will be cut off if your GPA goes below a certain point.

Can You Get Suspended for Failing a Class?

Can You Get Suspended for Failing a Class?

The truth is that most colleges have their principles and policies regarding the number of classes you need to pass. However, in most cases, failing one class out of a possible 12 or 13 per semester should not result in any academic probation. That said, the failing grade will permanently reflect on your transcript. Of course, your school will allow you to repeat the failed course, but that’s not to say that the fail will disappear from your transcript. Instead, most colleges incorporate the new grade into your transcript to show both grades.

So, is failing a class in college bad? Yes. But does it lead to suspension? It depends. Different schools have different GPA thresholds that students must maintain or risk probation, which is equivalent to a warning. If, after the probation, you still cannot raise your GPA, then you’ll risk suspension.

Other possible reasons for suspension in school include:

  • Failing multiple classes
  • Deliberately disobeying set laws
  • Violation of your school’s code of conduct
  • Possession and distribution of illegal drugs

What to Do If You Fail a Class in College?

What to Do If You Fail a Class in College?

Failing a class is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s common to see students failing one or two classes in college. One statistic from Ohio State University showed that up to 10% of undergraduate students retake a failed class yearly. This can be roughly calculated as one of every ten undergraduates. But what should you do if you fall into this category? Don’t fret! Beyond repeating a class in college, there are other things you should do to remedy the situation and avoid future occurrences. Here are some recommendations:

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Failure is hard news to take. You’d be angry, scared, and confused when you first learn about a failure. But these emotions should naturally wash away with time. Don’t be overly harsh on yourself. You should know when to pick your pieces and begin your fight towards success.

Remember that even the best of us make mistakes at different times, but what defines strength is out ability to rise from our mistakes. So, instead of beating yourself up, find the strength to pick yourself up and give it a better try.

Leverage Every Resource Available to You 

Failing or repeating a class in college is never the end of the road. There is an abundance of resources available to help you recover and do better in subsequent classes. So, instead of focusing on what happens if you fail a course in university, channel your energy to searching for resources that’ll help you. Some popular resources that can help you include:

  • Academic advisor: whether you’ve failed a class or are at risk of failing, meeting an academic advisor can significantly help you. Apart from walking you through available options to help you protect your GPA, an advisor can also encourage you to walk through the process.
  • Professor: from experience, your professor knows where you’re lagging. As such, they can help you understand the reason you failed a class and the little tweaks you can make to improve.
  • Tutoring services: fortunately, there are so many tutoring services around you. You can choose an online or offline tutoring service based on your schedule.
  • Counseling services: these services can help you manage your stress, anxiety, and any other emotional challenge that may cause you to fail.

Consider Switching Degrees 

Another option is to switch to a degree you’ll be comfortable with, especially if you’re just starting college. However, before switching, it’s important to think the decision through and ensure you’re not too lazy to work. Talk to a counselor about it and listen to their perspective.

Wrapping Things Up: What Happens if You Fail a Class in College?

We understand how you feel about failing a class. The truth is that everybody will feel bad when they fail any class, irrespective of whether it’s a random class or the most failed class in college. However, that’s not to say your world is shattered. It boils down to your reaction to the news of failure. It can be your wake up call to study harder and prepare better for a resit. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you walk the path.

Let’s also mention that you can avoid failure altogether by preparing from the start. Put in all required efforts and take care of yourself. Don’t forget to seek academic support when necessary. These little efforts can help you avoid repeating a college class while you pursue your educational goals.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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