Failing a School Year: The General Shindig

You studied diligently, confidently strutting your stuff in your classroom before writing your test. You wrote all your exams and finished your school projects like a champ. After your busy week, you decide to have a little ‘you’ time, or spend it with a couple of buddies. A few weeks pass by before you receive your mark. Waiting for your results, your mentor finally hands it back to you and…

…you’ve gotten a horrible score?!

You slump back into your seat, your confidence slowly shrivels and frays.

All that time dedicated to studying didn’t pay off the way you wanted it to. As another school year wraps up, you distraughtly think to yourself: Where did I go wrong?

Chin Up, Buttercup!

A good handful of post-secondary students have felt the horrible feeling of failure in their school work (and perhaps outside of the classroom)! Whether it was a project,  midterm, or even a course, college and university students everywhere have felt defeat over an unsatisfying grade.

Just talk to any upper-year student; they’ve survived to tell their tale. With utmost confidence, I can gladly say that the students who have bombed course projects and tests have obtained their degrees, gone off to pursue bright and big things.

The point: Getting a horrible test score has happened to even the ‘best and brightest’ students. You are not alone!

What You’ll Need to Understand
Image via

Image via

Your grade doesn’t define your intelligence, and some students who’ve failed their tests are tempted to resort to this rationale. A stellar GPA with pristine course marks don’t define intelligence either. Grades can reflect many things other than the students’ IQ or brain capacity.

With that said, you’ll need to identify why you didn’t too well either.

Did you not study enough because your schedule was insane during that week?

Or did you study but didn’t seem to focus on a particular concept that was covered in the test?

Did you bomb this exam because you’re not satisfied with the material you are learning?

These questions and many more like it are all valid to ask yourself.

What You’ll Need to Do

Especially if you’ve finished your first year of post-secondary education, it’s important to take rapid action if any negative repercussions occurred as a result of your grades. Whether you’ve failed a course or a school year, consider these tips.

  • Visit your faculty’s academic advisor, and explain your situation. For example, if you didn’t achieve the GPA required to stay in your program, your academic advisor may present you with alternative solutions to your problem (i.e. Apply for university reinstatement).
  • Inform your guardians/loved ones/parents. This is absolutely cringe worthy because our parents may lack empathy. However, if they are responsible for paying your school tuition, it may be necessary to tell them about it. If that’s not an option, seek counsel from trusted friend or relative.
  • Look into other programs (or schools). If your faculty is disallowing you back into your program, you might want to look into other programs at your school, or elsewhere. Sometimes students may not do so well in certain majors because of their lack of interest, so take some time to browse your options. Consult an academic advisor to learn more.
  • Take a year off. Sometimes, schools will encourage students to take some time off from their studies if they didn’t do so well throughout the year. Taking a year off will give you a lot of self-reflecting time, so don’t underestimate this option.

What You’ll Want to Avoid

  • Stop blaming yourself. You got yourself into a sticky situation, and it’ll be challenging to dig yourself out. During this time, you can’t afford to play the blame game by yourself right now; Identify your options and work through them ASAP.
  • Waiting for a perfect opportunity to present itself. Sometimes ideal opportunities may present themselves to those who wait. But usually, these opportunities come faster if you find them yourself. Avoid holding off decisions because you’re waiting for the perfect wave to ride, because you never know what may happen.
  • Doing this alone. During this process, it’s always helpful to have a few loved ones aware of your situation, so they can provide you with the support you need. This process doesn’t have to be faced alone; maintain regular communication with your academic advisor or faculty as well.

Failing post-secondary education in any way doesn’t feel good; in fact, it’s a terrible feeling.

However, don’t let that get you down; If you know you’re a competent, intelligent person, this failure should only be a learning experience for you. We get it, trust us (because one of us has been through it too)!

Have any personal concerns related to this situation? Comment in the section below, or feel free to message us!

Renee C. has received her B.Sc. in Honours Life Sciences at McMaster University. She loves educating others about different topics in science, and has developed a passion for scientific outreach. When she’s not writing articles for Hemtecks, she’s either volunteering or checking her social media accounts every 20 minutes. Along with Tiffany (Tianhemtecks), she also facilitates the blog’s Facebook page. 


One thought on “Failing a School Year: The General Shindig

  1. smahemtecks says:

    I could not agree more with you!
    I would like to add that we as students need to stop thinking we need to follow the norm, “Graduate in 4 years – Get Top Marks for a Career”. I feel like that is a general perception with us young kids. When in reality, many students take an extra year, go on co-op, take a year off, fail a few courses, transfer programs or go to college etc.

    Each student has their own path in their academic journey & whats important is learn from these ‘fails’ and re-evaluate options – whether it is the ones you said in your post or switch a better suited field.


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