our everyday life

What Causes Students to Fail Courses in College?

by Neil Kokemuller

College students fail classes for a variety of reasons, many of which are largely within the control of the students. In some cases, the particular way a professor grades can impact a student. Some instructors grade more heavily on homework, papers and projects, while others put a lot of weight on tests. However, regardless of the various assessment methods used, students can benefit by being cognizant of common causes of class failure.

Lack of Preparedness

The first year of college is often a major transition. Students leave home for the first time, balance work, school and other activities, and must make the majority of their life decisions independently. In some cases, students aren't mentally, emotionally or academically ready to succeed in college classes. Some lack the necessary motivation and work ethic. Others struggle with the emotional difficulties that come with being on their own. Colleges often offer personal counselors who work specifically with students trying to balance academics with personal life challenges.

Poor Attendance

One of the surest ways to fail a class is to consistently miss it. Some courses include grading components, such as in-class activities, pop quizzes and team projects that can't be made up. In many instances, the bigger issues is that you are out of the loop in a number of ways. Missing classes can lead to missed homework assignments, papers and projects, especially if you don't check in regularly with the instructor. You also miss critical discussions of topics and content, which can lead to poor performance on tests.

Poor Study Habits

The study habits necessary to pass college classes are often a step up from what some students are used to in high school. Even students who generally succeed in high school can fail because they don't enter college with the requisite study skills. Typically, you have to spend dedicated time taking notes in class, reading the materials, reviewing content and getting ready for tests to perform well. You need to be well-organized to keep track of study requirements and deadlines for multiple classes and make regular trips to the school library to use quiet space for studying, away from busy dorms, apartments or campus events.

Poor Time Management

Poor time management is an umbrella problem with several related issues that can lead to course failure. Students who spend too much time playing games, watching television or hanging out with friends don't put enough time into completing work. Given the common need to balance coursework, labs, extracurricular activities and jobs, lack of planning can put students in a major bind. Procrastination can lead to incomplete or poor performance on homework, papers and projects. In some cases, students may plagiarize papers to make up for lack of planning and effort, which may mean automatic class failure.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images