Barrier 5: Failing or Repeating a Course
By Dr. Kimberly Van Horne, Ed.D.
(Quotes by students: M=Male F= Female)
Students may fail a college course for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are not academically ready for the course, or they do not study, or they forget to do assignments, or they miss too many class sessions. Many students said that failing or repeating a course created an academic barrier while attending BC.
- “I wasn’t really understanding it really well, so I dropped” (F).
- “When I went from high school to college… you’re not properly prepared for the college” (M).
- “It’s frustrating” (F).
- “I felt frustrated when I failed my calculus class (M).
- “I failed math. I mean, math is important. It’s one of those that you need to transfer out” (M).
- “It was getting difficult because I was like, ‘Oh, what’d he say there? Oh, I missed that’ ” (F).
- “Every time I messed up in my math class…. I had to withdraw, or I flunked it” (F).
- “Sometimes… I didn’t understand the subject that I was doing homework for, especially English” (F). “I did fail two classes, and I did think to myself, ‘I can’t do it’ ” (F).
Overcoming Barrier 5: Successfully Passing a Failed or Repeated Course
(Quotes by students: M=Male F= Female)
Even though failing a course can be frustrating, there are ways to deal with the frustration and overcome this common college barrier. Students provided several actions they took that helped them to pass a failed course at BC: (a) seek help on campus, (b) use failure as a motivation, and (c) work harder. Students stated that seeking academic assistance was vital to achieving academic success. Three assistance sources emerged from the responses: (a) friends or classmates, (b) counselors, and (c) teachers:
· Friends or classmates: “If I make a friend in the class, I’ll ask them and see what they get out of the class (F). “My friend, she helped me a lot. If it wasn’t for her talking to me, I probably wouldn’t be here because she understood how hard it was for me” (F). “I have some friends that go to the same classes, and we end up helping each other out when we need it, and we basically do alright too passing the class (M). “One of my friends who helped me already said, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll pass. We’ll study together. I’ll help you or lend a hand’ ” (FA). “I had the help from a friend. I was thinking very negative, and he was always there” (F).
· Counselor: “I went to talk to one of the counselors, and I just got some advice” (M). “I would talk to my counselor. She told me to get help from the tutoring center” (F). “I would talk to my counselor, and she also told me if I wasn’t understanding something, she told me to get help from the tutoring center” (F).
· Teacher: “If a teacher’s willing to help you, take it. If they’re trying to push you, they’re not just trying to push you for no reason” (F). “[If] I really, really am struggling, then maybe I’d push myself to go [ask the teacher]” (FB).
Failure as a Motivation to Succeed
Students expressed how they used academic failure as a motivation to succeed by changing their thoughts about failure.
- “[Failing] kind of drives you to not quit because you don’t want to do the same thing over again especially if you don’t like it” (F).
- “It just makes me angry, and it then it gets me more determined that I’m going to do it, and every time I’ve taken this class I’ve gotten better at it” (F).
- “I think that if you have a goal and you want to change your grades then you can. You just got to have motivation to do it” (F).
- “I told myself that this obstacle is not going to stop me” (F).
- “It just makes me angry, and it then it gets me more determined that I’m going to do it” (F).
- “I just said, ‘I need to pass this class. I’m not going to fail it again’ ” (M).
Effort and Success
Students expressed that refocusing efforts and trying harder to succeed facilitated academic success when having to repeat a course.
- “I just did the extra work to overcome and do it” (M).
- “The third time I said, ‘I need to get myself together and try to understand it and try to pass it and work harder and study harder,’ and I did. It helped” (F).
- “I just tried my best. That’s the only thing I could do is try my best and see if I pass the class” (F).
|1. Competing Demands||2. Financial Issues||3. Cultural Beliefs, Values, & Attitudes about Education||4. Transitions to College|
|5. Failing or Repeating a Course||6. Starting College in Developmental Courses||7. Personal Attitudes about College|