How Often Do College Students Fail Classes?

Your freshmen year is exciting, with new memories, experiences, and friends. But at times, college students often fail classes, and 1/3 of the freshman won’t make it to their sophomore year. 

The list of reasons why can go on and on. Some leave due to family emergencies or economic reasons. There are also those who can’t pass their classes and fail out.

Around 30% of students leave college during or even after their first year. And that can be understandable, as it is a new experience for first-year students, and it can be hard to be in an unknown environment.

college students often fail classes

The higher up, the fewer failures

Its been proven that higher upper universities, like Ivy Leagues, have a better freshman retention rate and lose very few. For instance, Columbia University manages to keep 99% of its freshmen. That is only 1 out of 100 students that leave!

Other prestigious schools like Dartmouth keep 98% of their freshmen class. The less prestigious the university is, the more first-year students drop out. Sadly, this proves to be accurate time and time again.

Getting into the Ivy League is a complex task, making you have to be at the top of your game. Thus, it is less probable that these students won’t fail classes often.

As opposed to high school students that do not graduate at the top of their classes, they will struggle more often to stay afloat in college and are the ones that often fail classes.

Why college students often fail classes

It is no secret that there are reasons behind this failure, and if remedied, there is a way to save yourself from dropping out and keep yourself from failing classes. Below we’ll discuss a couple of reasons why.

Freedom For All

Entering a new social environment can be hard on its own; however, the freedom that comes with it can be even harder. For many students, this is their first year living away from home and their parents.

The downfall that comes with freedom can sometimes be too much for these new freshmen to handle. No more mom waking you up and making you breakfast. Dad isn’t going to drop you off and pick you up.

Time management creates a huge difference, and now these kids are left alone to learn these new traits independently. Getting yourself to sleep early, setting time off to study, saying no to college parties because you have exams.

These are all factors as to why college students often fail classes. Since this is the first time they have freedom, it is customary to abuse it. The subpar work, however, does not fall too far behind.

Along with the sleepless nights comes procrastination, crammed projects, and little to no studying. One missed class can set students far back from the rest of the class and topple the dominoes of failure.

Being able to handle freedom takes effort and time like any other learned behavior. Students must take it up on themselves to get things done and manage their freedom accordingly.

The Workload

Though living independently is one of the biggest reasons, managing your time with the work given is also a must. These classes are not made to be easy and, thus, can be highly overwhelming.

College students often fail classes when they are unable to keep up and thrive in a rigorous environment. But it is no secret that the transition from high school to college is impactful.

High schoolers are used to memorizing information and later reverting it to exams. Yet, right after, they can forget all about it. The majority of your high school classes don’t reflect what you want to study.

However, the college focuses on concepts and how to apply them; thus, this is not something you can memorize and forget. These classes are meant to shape you in your chosen career!

Furthermore, college actually has fewer tests and exams. If you think that’s a good thing, wrong. These examinations are worth most of your grade, so flunking one can be detrimental.

In fact, you will usually have only 3-4 exams per term, and it can be worth 25-30% of your final grade, depending on the class. So it is way more vital to pass a college exam than a high school one.

A Rude Awakening

Insufficient motivation to do well in college is a one-way ticket to fail-town. But is the initial shock that will create this big downfall for many.

Finding the correct balance between having a social life and studying is essential to stay afloat. You have to remember that the friendships you build are meaningful too.

As mentioned previously, freedom will impact your decision-making and is a factor that can potentially harm you. There won’t be a phone call to your parents if you miss class. So what keeps you from not going to class at all?

If you fail a test, there won’t be a need for your parent’s signature on it or a parent-teacher conference. Having no one to answer to can sometimes be extremely difficult because now you will have to take on the responsibility to keep yourself on track for graduation.

Paying Tuition

The cost of tuition being high does not help, and college students often fail classes because they need to take on a job on the side to cover a part of their tuition or even take out a loan that will overshadow them for years to come.

A good chunk, around 40-50% of college dropouts, do it for economic reasons and not being able to afford tuition. Sadly, colleges continue to charge more, tuition rises, and loans continue being taken out.

This cycle sadly will affect many later in life, and their debt will continue to live with them for years to come. But being able to cover tuition is only one of the various factors that must be overcome. 

Furthermore, the cost of studying abroad can also rack up a bill. This makes people wonder, do colleges like exchange students?

Stressing Out

Stress can come from different sources. Pressure builds up, whether it is the class material, the tuition, a job, or other outside factors. Juggling a lot at once, especially when it is your first time, causes a lot of students to fail.

It can be a lot to bear, especially if you financially support yourself in school. Students tend to pick up more shifts at work and make money instead of taking the time to study because they simply need the cash at the moment.

In return, college students often fail classes when they have to tackle all of this at once. Mental health also is highly affected when students cope with heavy amounts of stress.

Family Comes First

Lastly, students also fail or drop classes due to family emergencies. At times, students must work to provide a living for their families for whatever reasons. 

Some college students are pregnant, expecting, or already have children. Balancing work, school, and time with their children can be tricky; ultimately, a choice must be made.

When having to choose between work, college and family, college will have to stay behind. It can be challenging for a person to fit studies into their already busy life. 

Final Thoughts

College students often fail classes for a number of reasons, including their personal lives and financial situation. Nevertheless, there are plenty of remedies that can be found.

For instance, scholarships can be offered to low-income students, and various colleges offer in-campus therapy to aid students with their mental health and teach them how to deal with time management and stress.

The resources and help you need are out there, so if you are near failing a class, reach out for help from an adviser. It can be the difference between passing and failing.

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