What Happens if You Fail a Class in High School?

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As college admissions become increasingly competitive and schools continue to make their curriculums more rigorous, failing a high school course or two can have serious implications on your future and academic success.

For this reason, students must understand the consequences of failing a class. However, keep in mind that failure is sometimes normal and doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Keep reading as we delve into what happens if you fail a class in high school and what you should do going forward.

What Happens If You Have a Failing Class in High School?What Happens If You Have a Failing Class in High School?

Whether you fail depends on the passing grades in your high school and the type of class you’re taking. Typically, a failing grade is an F, which students receive if they score between 0-59% in a class. Failing a mandatory high school class entails that you’ll have to retake the course. In contrast, an elective class doesn’t necessarily need to be retaken, but will still appear on your academic transcript that you failed. Additionally, students are required to make up the credit by taking a different elective course.

In the circumstance that you fail a class early in the year, you can ask your teacher or school whether they’ll let you complete make-up work during the winter break. While every school has different rules, this strategy is definitely worth a shot.

And if even this isn’t possible, there’s always the following year or summer school. It can be challenging to get into college with a failing grade, and it also puts your financial aid at risk. Consequently, improving your GPA as soon as possible and ensuring you obtain enough credits to graduate on time is in your best interest.

Students with a certain number of credits can fail a class and still graduate, so determine how many credits you require to graduate with your class, as it varies from state to state.

For example, you need at least 22 credits to graduate high school in New York. Don’t hesitate to speak to your guidance counselor regarding what you need to do because they can help you with their knowledge and experience.

How Many Classes Can You Fail in High School and Still Graduate?

How Many Classes Can You Fail in High School and Still Graduate?

The number of courses you can fail in high school and still graduate is determined by your school district and the state you live in. States like West Virginia, Alabama, and Utah have a high credit fulfillment requirement, and it is mandatory to have at least 24 credits for high school graduation.

Your school will state the credits required every year to graduate by the end of four years. If you fail one or two classes, you’ll have to make up for the credits, but this won’t result in grade retention.

You can figure out the best solution for failing one or more classes by meeting with your parents, school counselors, and teachers. Consider retaking a failed class in high school the following year or during the summer. In some states, you’re likely to fail a grade if you don’t clear the standardized tests in math and reading.

3 Things That Can Happen if You Fail a Class in High School

3 Things That Can Happen if You Fail a Class in High School

So, exactly how bad is it to fail a class? Let’s take a look at some consequences that failing a class causes:

Having to Take Summer School or Repeating a Class

Once you fail a high school class, be prepared to repeat the course in the coming academic year or opt for summer school. If you couldn’t pass a course or two, summer school can help you make up for the credits required for graduation. Still, it can be expensive and you might have to pay out of your pocket.

You’ll also have to give up your summer break to attend classes, which can be quite intensive due to the limited amount of time. Failing a class during senior year of high school entails repeating the class the next year to graduate, impacting plans such as career or college opportunities.

Depending on the length or type of classes you have to take, you might end up paying anywhere from $100-$1000 for summer school.

Not Graduating on Time

You might not graduate on time or can be held back a grade if you fail multiple courses, as you meet the credit requirement to advance to the next grade level. Repeating the grade you’ve failed in can be embarrassing and demotivating, affecting your self-confidence and ability to do well academically.

Additionally, you won’t receive your high school diploma unless you secure the credits needed for graduation. This can have a significant impact on the opportunities coming your way. For example, you might not be able to get a job or attend college until you improve your grades.

Not Getting into College

When making admission decisions, universities and colleges consider failed classes as a negative indication of where your academic future and career opportunities are likely to head. Consequently, failing a class can reduce your chances of getting into university because admissions teams consider your transcript important.

Not only does this impact your acceptance into a college, but also your eligibility for financial aid and scholarships. And if you fail in a subject you wish to pursue as your intended major, you might not be able to avail yourself of a wide range of career opportunities moving forward.

What to Do If You Are Failing a Class in High School?

What to Do If You Are Failing a Class in High School?

Here are some strategies you can adopt when you are failing a class in high school:

Do Assignments on Time

It’s common for students to get stuck on an assignment and proceed by putting off the work. They then revisit it when it’s too late, losing valuable points that could help them pass a difficult course. If you’re trying to bring your grades up, procrastination shouldn’t be an option, and it’s in your best interest to start working on the homework when it is handed out.

Waiting until the last minute to do your assignment means that you won’t put your 100% into it and won’t receive a good grade. Another good thing about doing your work early is that you can ask for help from a teacher or librarian when you get stuck on a problem.

For example, if you have to write a research paper, start in-depth research immediately. This way, you can make solid arguments regarding your topic and include relevant scholarly sources. Remember, the better the information you obtain, the better the quality of your paper.

Make a Plan

Perhaps you’re failing a course due to poor time management skills. The only way to change your grade is to implement more effective delegation skills into your life. You’ll need time not only to get your assignments done on time but also to study. Make a timetable of your weekly homework for all your classes while also laying out other obligations like social engagements and school activities.

Mark your calendar with every event, starting with the most important, i.e. work for the class you are failing. This helps students determine what to do and how much time to allot to that specific task. If work is overlapping considerably with your academic responsibilities, talk to your boss and see whether you can rearrange your schedule. In contrast, you may have to sacrifice some obligations, such as reducing your participation in a club or sport.

Form a Study Group

In the situation that a test is coming up, consider finding some classmates you can study with. When you work with other people, you can engage with the material better than you would on your own. Prepare notes before you meet, and upon meeting, go over problem areas, quiz each other, and review the content that is more likely to be on the test.

Include individuals who are passing the class you are failing since they’ll understand the information better and can answer most of your questions. Try using flashcards and a board game to mix up how you learn for the subject so that it’s more engaging and fun.

Opt for Tutoring Sessions

Don’t hesitate to go to tutoring sessions, even if you feel you’re too far behind or that it won’t help. Go to your school’s tutoring center and get the support you need. It is essential to review the material that was discussed too quickly for you to understand in class.

Talk to Your Advisor

School counselors are paid to assist you in situations like failing a class. They hold the information required to decide which classes to take together in the same semester. Additionally, your advisor can give you insight into how to turn things around when failing a class or what has worked in the past for other students.

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

Sure, failing a class can feel like the end of the world for some people, but it really isn’t. Most people go through this at least once, so don’t feel discouraged. Ask yourself the important questions: How many credits in high school are required to graduate, or how can you pass hard subjects in high school?

With a mixture of studying, concentrating on materials, and working hard, you can bring up a failing grade gradually and successfully.

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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