What Happens When You Fail a Few Classes During Your College Career?

by Fitzalan Gorman

    You never plan to fail a college course, but sometimes things go wrong. When you fail a few courses, it can affect your grade point average, your next semester schedule and your tentative graduation date. Many universities may place you on academic suspension if your GPA drops too low. If you have several failing classes on your transcripts, meeting with your advisor can help you fix the situation before it gets too dire.

    Academic Standards

    At most colleges and universities, you must carry a minimum GPA to remain a student. Students with low academic performance may be placed under academic watch, on suspension or even dismissed. When you fail a course, it directly impacts your GPA. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, if your GPA falls below 2.0 or you receive more than one F in a single semester, you are placed on academic probation. If your GPA stays below a 2.0 or you fail more than one class, the university may enforce a mandatory leave of absence. Students who fail more than one class in a single semester can be dropped immediately from the university even if they were previously in good standing.

    Financial Aid

    If you are receiving financial aid, failing a college course can impact your eligibility. Most financial aid packages require that you carry a certain GPA and a minimum number of credits. To be eligible for the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program, for instance, you must be enrolled at least half time, and you must maintain satisfactory academic progress. Two main criteria regarding academic progress are your GPA and failed classes. If you fail a few courses, you may no longer have enough credits or the GPA to receive aid.

    Retaking Classes

    If you have failed a class, most schools allow you to retake the course, but the original failing grade remains on your permanent academic record. At the University of Wisconsin, if you retake a class and pass it, your two grades are averaged into your GPA. On your transcripts, it shows that you took the class multiple times and both grades will appear. If you fail the class more than once, this also will appear on your transcripts.

    Academic Advisor

    Your academic advisor’s role is to support and guide you through college life. If you are failing a few courses, you should meet with him as soon as possible. Prior to your meeting, think about what may have caused you to fail your classes. You can talk to your advisor about time management strategies, study skills, campus life and stress. Your advisor may also be able to direct you to a campus tutoring center.

    About the Author

    Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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