So you’re failing a class in college, what now?

When you’re failing a class in college, it’s very easy to slip into a negative spiral of defeat. It feels like you’ve let everybody down, your friends, your parents, yourself. If you’re in this situation right now, here is my 3-step process that will transform that failure into a meaningful success.

Recognize that it’s not the end of the world 

So many of us take failure as the end. It’s all over. I’ll never recover. However, this is so far from the truth. There are so many people in the world who failed in school but still managed to become extremely successful. Here are just a few examples. 

Richard Branson

According to Forbes, Branson is worth around $6.1 billion, but at one point in his life, he was a high-school dropout. As a young student struggling with dyslexia, he was known as the dumbest person in his school. However, Branson perceived things differently.  

Instead of branding himself as a failure, he recognized the strengths that came with his learning disability. People with dyslexia have the potential to excel at things they are passionate about. By being true to himself, he was able to turn those passions into an empire. 

How Richard Branson went from high-school dropout to billionaire entrepreneur ( 

Richard Branson ( 

Whoopi Goldberg 

Goldberg reported in an interview that she also struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia while at school. Eventually, she dropped out of school at the age of 17. After years of struggling with jobs such as bank telling and bricklaying, she found acting. Decades later, she became the second African-American woman in history to win an Oscar. 

From a dyslexic school dropout to Oscar winner: Whoopi Goldberg shows us the power of possibilities ( 

failing a class in college

Steven Spielberg 

One of the most influential directors of our time, yet he was denied entry from the University of Southern California three times. At school, he was a mediocre student, averaging a C- at best. Eventually, he was admitted into California State University, where he dropped out to make his debut film, Amblin. This decision proved to be the tipping point in his life as the film landed him a directing contract with Universal Studios.  

So, remember, if you’re failing a class in college, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a failure in life. In fact, you’re in pretty good company. 

Why Spielberg, a Film School Reject, Was Successful Anyway | Psychology Today


Now that we’re established that failure may not be such a bad thing, we can now begin to reflect. Did we fail because we were simply not interested in the class? According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, about 80% of college students change their major at least once. If it’s a matter of disinterest, then we must ask ourselves, why am I taking this class? 

NCES report: About 80 percent of college students change major at least once – Local News 8 

Understandably, we have pressures from family, friends to go to school. Don’t get me wrong, receiving a formal education has so many benefits, but it’s not for everybody. Not everyone can fit into the extremely structured environment of school. Some people may fit better in an apprenticeship, others may want to become entrepreneurs. If this is you, then you must be honest with yourself. It’s time for a change.   

What are you good at? Which hobbies take up most of your free time? Can you potentially take it full-time? There are important questions that need to be answered. To get in this mindset of reflection, I’d personally recommend getting a journal. 

All you need is a free afternoon, a good playlist and, a cup of tea. Allow yourself to be vulnerable on paper. No one ever has to see what you write down. Put your dream job to paper. Let yourself know what it is that you want to do with your life.  

5 Amazing Prompts To Inspire Your Future Self Journaling (2021) – The Insignificant Soul (

Make a plan – SMART goals

While it is important to reflect, wallowing forever is going to get us nowhere, we need a strategy to get us to our dream destination. We need to set SMART goals. 

failing a class in college


When writing the goal down in your journal, try to answer questions such as:

  • What are my passions in life? 
  • Which resources will I need to learn more about these passions? 

Example: ‘’I want to become a better writer, so I can become a successful blogger and became financially independent. 


You will need to have goals, where progress can be tracked over time. This will be fundamental in keeping you motivated in the long term. 

  • How many words a day will I need to write? 

Example: ”I will write 300 quality words a day on my writing projects.”


Your goals must be achievable. Setting unrealistic goals is a quick recipe for unnecessary anxiety.  

  • How realistic is the time constraint? 

I know that it would be impossible for me to write 10,000 quality words in 24 hours, and so that’s why I chose 300 in the previous example. It’s a goal that I know that I can achieve regardless of external circumstances. 


You may have a million ideas on what you can do after failing a class in college but you’re going to have to narrow the list down. What helped was answering this single question. 

  • Is this goal worth it? 

If you deem a goal to be worth your time and attention, then it goes in the ‘yes’ pile. However, you must be ruthless in answering this question. Some goals are interesting but we may not be at the point in our lives to make it a reality. 


Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines. I know it sounds like college all over again, but setting realistic deadlines is crucial in reaching these new goals. It will help keep you focused and on track. A time-bound goal would usually involve a specific date. 

  • When will I have my first progress update?

Example: I will finish this writing project in 6 months. 

SMART Goals – Time Management Training From

How to Write SMART Goals | Smartsheet


Failing a class in college can be a life-changing experience. However, you must not let it break you. There are so many people in this world who have shown that failure can be a stepping stone to success. All you have to do is reflect and be honest with yourself. Is this the right path for you? Then you can use SMART goals to help you arrive at whatever destination you decide.

If you enjoyed reading, then do share it with your friends and family! Also, make sure to sign up for our email list. I hope you have a week.

One Reply to “So you’re failing a class in college, what now?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *