Help, I’m failing a class in college, and I can’t get my grades back up!

Ever have that nightmare where you are called on in class but are woefully unprepared? How about the nightmare where you forgot about the big exam? If either of these scenarios actually happen to you in real life, here are a few tips if you’re failing a class in college to get your academics back on track.

First, don’t panic

Second, seek help. Pretending like the situation will resolve on its own, is not going to help and failing a class may impact whether you can graduate with your intended major, transfer schools or get into graduate school. Resources are available, but first it may be good to understand why you are struggling in a particular class before you are forced to retake it.

Are you going to class?

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to miss class, Illness, death in the family, etc., but each moment away from class will compound over time. If you must miss, work with your classmates and professors in advance to stay up-to-date on assignments and covered material.

Are you completing the assigned reading and coursework?

Is your course load too high? Do you have too many humanities classes or science labs all at the same time. If it’s early in the semester, see if you can change your schedule or even withdraw. Remember, you must maintain a minimum number of credit hours to be a full-time student and dropping too many courses could affect your financial aid.

Are you engaged in the coursework?

Is the class an elective or for your major? If it’s mandatory for your major, talk to your professor, academic advisor or someone in the career center to ensure your major is the best fit for you.
To learn more, read our article on Should I change my major?

People who can help if you are failing a class in college!

  • Peers – Set up a study group. If you’re struggling, others likely are as well.
  • Professor – Take advantage of one-on-one time with faculty during office hours. The time is literally set aside to help students who are struggling. Check out this advice from a college professor. What to Do if You’re Failing a Class in College | BestColleges
  • Tutors/writing center staff – Tutors are available for all students, even the ones who want to go from a “B” to an “A.” Your college’s writing center staff can help you come up with ideas for papers, develop outlines and revise/proofread.       
  • Academic advisor – Academic advisors help you schedule your classes and ensure you are on track to graduate in a timely manner.
  • Disability services – Do you have a documented learning disorder or disability? Meet with your school’s disability services coordinator as soon as possible. Accommodations are available.
  • Registrar—Staff in the registrar’s office can help you with course scheduling and adding, dropping classes and withdrawing from classes.

To learn more, read our article on Support systems on campus for success.

Thoughts from current students

  • Some people are hesitant to use the tutors because they feel like it means they are dumb, but that is totally wrong! The tutors are students who have taken the class you are struggling with. They are more than willing to help you figure the class out, and likely also went to tutoring when they were in the class. I go to tutoring for Physics every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night and it has been a life saver! – Danielle K.
  • Talk to your academic advisor and other students in the major. It may just be that the class you are struggling in is not reflective of the major as a whole. However, changing your major may be a good option for you. I’ve seen a lot of students change their major and find what actually suits them best. – Amy M.
  • Simply getting organized can make a huge difference with becoming successful in a class. Get a planner to write down assignments and schedule out your day to make sure you have plenty of time to study.  – Haley B.

At Bluffton University

We offer an exceptional education that prepares students for impactful careers. You’ll be challenged to think critically and grow in confidence as you prepare for a life of passion and purpose. Bluffton is also a place where professors and coaches mean it when they say, “My door is always open!”