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Best Tips to Help Students Deal with Academic Failure in Higher Institution

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Tips to Help Students Deal with Academic Failure

How you respond to failure in school will go a large way to impact on your future prospects in life. Failure in university or college can be premised on different factors, it could be caused by external factors, reasons beyond your control or it could be caused by you. More important is the attitude with which you respond to the failure whether it’s a major failure or a seeming minor failure. Failing and performing below your expectations and others’ expectations can be very disappointing and painful so much that it can have more negative impact, hence, it has to be properly handled. You need to know how to properly handle failure and bounce back, here are some tips you can employ:

1. Investigate the Failure

If you think you were not supposed to fail in a course or some courses and you did, then you might need to check to really confirm the result carrying your name or number. Probably there has been a mix up somewhere and another student’s result has been switched with yours or there’s a deliberate cutting down of your marks by a lecturer for sentimental reasons. While doing this you need to be careful and polite not to insinuate anything that isn’t true. If you are able to sort it out, good. But then if it’s for real that you failed, then you need to carry out a different type of investigation.

‘Why Did I Fail?’

This is a very important step in combating the failure, you need to know what caused the failure for you to effectively stop and overcome the failure. If you don’t ask this pertinent why question, you might just keep doing the same things that made you fail. It goes without saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity. So, it’s important for you to know what you’re doing wrong which you can begin to do right in order to have a better result in your academic performance. Below are some things to evaluate:

2. Evaluate Your Approach

Ask yourself if your approach was right. Check up on students who passed the same course you failed, ask them how they approached the course and how they prepared for tests and examinations, compare their methods with yours. Just maybe you didn’t use the right method, this will help you to find out. 

3. Evaluate Your Effort

You need to be candid and frank with yourself, ask a direct question ‘Did I really put in enough effort in preparing for those papers?’ ‘Did I do my best?’ It might just be that you took the courses for granted and underestimated them, therefore didn’t prepare adequately causing the failure.

4. Evaluate Your Attitude

You should think back and check on the atmosphere of your mind the semester you failed, was your attitude positive, optimistic or just negative and pessimistic. Did you think you were going to fail and had summed yourself up as failing already?

5. Evaluate Your Environment

If you happen to be off campus or going to class from home, then you may want to check if the environment also contributed to the failure. Probably you were too distracted or had home chores interrupting your time and your academic motivation was not optimal because of being off campus. You might also need to ask yourself some questions like:

a. Was there a major issue?

If there was a major challenge or issue like relationship stuffs or family issues back home that weighed you down emotionally or psychologically, then you are able to identify that as the cause of the failure and you can deal with it.

b. Did I move with the wrong clique?

You might discover it’s the people you moved with that affected you negatively. If you moved with unserious students or students who were involved in all kinds of distractions, then they perhaps have helped your failure. Also ask yourself if you were distracted, if there was a major distraction or many distractions, then you probably just nailed the culprit responsible for the failure.

c. Was I short on money or resources?

If you could not afford necessary materials because you were short on finances, be sure to nail the very reasons that account for the failure you’ve experienced, not to use them as excuses, but to deal with those reasons and move on.

So, How Can You then handle failure after nailing the reasons responsible? Below are some tips:

1. Detach Yourself from the Failure

That you failed doesn’t mean you are a failure. Your failure is not you; it does not define you; it only defines what you have done. It doesn’t put a benchmark on your capacity, it is only a feedback on your activities. Even if people suggest by their actions or words that you are a failure, ignore it and the best way to prove to yourself and others that you are not a failure is to pick yourself up and re-strategize towards success.

2. Speak with Someone

As the feeling of disappointment and discouragement caused by failing may be too heavy, there is need for you to find at least someone you know can be of help to talk about it to. You could talk with a good friend of yours, meet lecturers that you are close to and that can be of help, you can also discuss with your parents or guardian. This will likely help you to see the way forward in spite of your failure, especially if the person/people you talk to handle your concern properly.

3. Change Your Approach

This cannot be overstressed. If you’ve failed doing it a particular way, then if you must succeed, you must make the right change. After you must have identified what was wrong, the next thing is to necessarily change what needs to be changed. If it’s to change the friends you move with, do it carefully but promptly; if it’s to adjust the way you approach a particular course, then learn and harness the right approach. If your environment also needs to be changed, probably you need to get a hostel instead of going from home or if you think being on campus will be helpful, make the change. Where explanation is required, be sure to clearly and politely explain to the right persons, probably your parents and sponsors.

4. Put in More Effort

If you did not do enough and that made you fail, then without being advised you know already that you need to change your attitude towards school work in terms of attending classes, turning in assignments as and when due, preparing adequately for tests and examinations, joining group discussions and attending tutorials if possible.

5. Understand Yourself Better

As much as you need to know the right methods and approaches that others are employing to achieve good grades, you should be able to apply these methods correctly to yourself. The time another student studies may probably not be the best time for you, their lifestyle may not be your type too, be sure to understand yourself and apply the right methods that work for you. Good luck as you rise from your failure.


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