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.

Overcoming Barrier 5: Successfully Passing a Failed or Repeated Course

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 (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).

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Failure as a Motivation to Succeed

Students expressed how they used academic failure as a motivation to succeed by changing their thoughts about failure.

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Effort and Success

Students expressed that refocusing efforts and trying harder to succeed facilitated academic success when having to repeat a course.

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  

 


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