What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? What to Do?

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? What to Do?

What occurs if you don’t pass a class in college? Find out how to handle an F and what to do if you’re failing a college course by reading this.

Perhaps you haven’t even begun college yet, but you’re worried about what might occur. Asking “What happens if you fail a class in college?” is an all-too-common question.

Despite being foolish and potentially harmful, it does not spell the end of the world. Your grade won’t be affected if you fail a course and retake it within the following academic year.

Examining the consequences of failing a college course as well as some preventative measures is important.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College?

It is never ideal to fail a class, especially in college. Extenuating circumstances, on the other hand, might occasionally put it beyond your control. You might be dealing with health issues or family problems. You might be juggling work and school while working. Or perhaps you’ve just stopped trying.

Related: What is a Failing Grade in Middle School?

It’s crucial to understand why you fail because, if it’s something you can change, you can. But in any case, failing has repercussions. Here’s what you need to know if it happens:


Grade point average is what we refer to as GPA. It is determined by giving each letter grade a numerical value and then dividing that number by the total number of classes you are enrolled in. Examples include an A=4, B=3, C=2, and D=1. The result of this is that you receive a zero if you receive a fail (or F).

However, the class is still taken into account when divided by the total number of courses you have taken. As a result, failing a class can seriously lower your GPA.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? What to Do?

If you intend to start working right after graduation, your college GPA might not be as crucial as it is for those who want to pursue graduate studies. However, it is crucial for those who want to work in the field.

If you’ve selected to take a course “pass/fail” or “pass/no pass”, rather than receiving a letter grade, then failing won’t be counted into your GPA, but you’ll need to retake the course. In most cases, if it’s a course required for your major, you won’t be able to take it “pass/no pass” in the first place.

Related: What GPA Do You Need for Community College?


If you fail a class that is required for your major, you will have to retake it. However, the retake policies at each school vary. The number of retakes is restricted at some colleges. Additionally, when you retake a course, some schools will replace the F with the new grade, while others will combine the scores.

Potential Dismissal

Schools typically have policies regarding failing classes because college is typically a very competitive environment. Multiple failings may constitute grounds for dismissal in some strict cases because it may be interpreted as a sign that you don’t value your education or are unsuited for your chosen field.

Financial Aid

Financial aid provided by grants and loans for enrolled students typically has its own rules regarding dropping a class. So, you might be required to repay a grant if you don’t succeed. For some grants, maintaining a certain GPA is necessary. Financial aid may also be reduced for the semester, but if you retake the course, it might be reinstated.

Scholarships may be merit-based or conditional on your performance in school and academics. Therefore, failing could result in you losing the scholarship or, worse yet, being required to repay any money that has already been given to you.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? What to Do?

What to Do If You Fail a College Class?

College students frequently fail classes. Around 10% of first-year students at The Ohio State University retake a failed course each year. Since not every student repeats a failed class, that means that more than one in ten undergraduates fail a class.

In case of failure, what should you do? Do the course again, if necessary. In more than 90% of colleges, students can retake a failed course to earn a better grade. The new grade may replace the F on your transcript, or both grades may appear with the new grade replacing the F in your GPA calculation, depending on the school.

Only first-year students are permitted to retake failed classes at some colleges. Others allow course repetition for any student. You will have to pay tuition each time, and many schools have a cap on the number of repeats you can take. A different major might be worth thinking about if you twice fail a class.

How to Avoid Failing a Class in College?

Possibilities of failing a class exist? You may occasionally be able to pass and raise your grade. It might be too late to prevent failure in other circumstances. You do have choices, even if you get an F.

Talk to Your Professor ASAP

Have you forgotten to turn in a project? Speak with your professor right away if you fail a test. Call, email, or stop by during office hours to arrange a meeting. Consult your professor for suggestions on how to improve your grade.

Depending on the course and its policies, your professor’s advice will change. Some professors permit absent students to turn in assignments or papers. They might grant you extra credit or offer suggestions for how to perform better on upcoming tests.

With your professor, be honest. Check to see if your current grade will still allow you to pass the class. And make sure to heed their recommendations for improving your grade.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in College? What to Do?

Meet With An Academic Advisor

Consult with an academic advisor if you think you might struggle and end up failing. If you don’t pass the course or pass, the advisor can go over your options. For instance, students who receive a failing grade can retake the course to earn a passing grade, which will be recorded on their transcripts in most schools.

Your options to preserve your GPA or perhaps drop the course can be discussed with an academic advisor as well.

Your advisor can suggest alternatives to help you keep your grade from dropping below a C if you’re struggling because of a personal crisis, a health issue, or a mental health issue. With your professor’s approval, you might also be able to take an “incomplete” and finish the course during the next term.

As an alternative, you might be able to submit a late drop request.

Check Your College Policies

Different policies about failing grades are upheld by each college. Departments within the college also do this. To learn more about your options, take some time to research these policies.

A D will satisfy your general education requirements. Can you retake a failed class a certain number of times? Do only first-year students have the option to retake a failed class?

Additionally, you can review the pass/fail and dropping class policies at your school. It may be possible to switch to a pass/fail to grade to protect your GPA if you are in danger of failing and are unable to improve your grade. You may also be able to drop the class.

If you are consistently failing classes, you might want to think about dropping out for the semester.

Conclusion: The Next Steps

A college F frequently serves as a cautionary tale. Failure may be a sign that a particular major is not a good fit for your skill set or that you need to put more effort into your studies. Your path to graduation can be strengthened by using the knowledge you gain from a failing grade.

Consider the positive aspects of a bad circumstance. Aim to prevent it from happening again by taking into account what you’ve learned and what needs to be done. Do whatever is required moving forward to continue moving toward your academic objectives. If you ultimately succeed, that “F” won’t seem so bad, after all.


Is It Normal to Fail a Class in College?

Unfortunately, it happens quite frequently. But accumulating enough failing grades or dropping out can lead to consequences you won’t want to face. You can only do your best, and that’s all you can do. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you are still unable to pass.

Can I Get Rid of My “F” Grade?

In both cases, the F will still appear on your transcript even if you retake (and pass) the course you failed. As a result, your transcript will reflect that you attempted the course more than once as well as your final grade for each attempt.

What Happens If You Fail a Class in Community College?

There are no special repercussions for failing a class at a community college unless there’s some rule I’m completely ignorant of. The only possible exception is if you are a high school student enrolling in a dual credit course at your community college. Your high school might make you pay for the course if you fail it in that situation.

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