How To Deal With Failures When Completing Your Degree

Published on: December 14, 2023

Earning a degree is not easy, and even the best students sometimes struggle. Failing a class or getting a bad grade on a test can be difficult and disappointing, but it doesn’t have to be the cause of a negative spiral. For many students, it can feel like the end of the world if they don’t get the grades they want, but it is important to put things into perspective. Failure is a normal part of life, which many students have to deal with. The following tips can help students deal with failure during their studies.

Take a Step Back

Often, the immediate reaction when dealing with failure is anger, sadness, embarrassment, or disappointment. These emotions make it challenging to address the issue logically and rationally. It is better to take a step back until you are able to approach it from a more constructive perspective. You can allow yourself to feel sad or disappointed, but don’t be too hard on yourself or dwell on your failure.

Evaluate the Cause of Your Failure

When failing a test or a semester, it is important to evaluate the reasons why it happened so you can know how to do better in the future. It is important to be honest with yourself during this process. For example, did you attend class consistently or prioritize other activities? You also need to ask yourself if your time management skills were adequate or if you ended up having to cram before exams. Honesty is important instead of trying to externalize the issue, as failing to do so will not solve the problem. For example, it might be easy to blame the professor and retake the course with a different professor, only to fail again because the issue was something else you did. Sometimes, doing poorly in a class could be due to external factors beyond your control, such as a family crisis or the death of a loved one.

Change Your Study Habits

Studying is not enough if you don’t retain the information, so it is vital to learn effectively. This can differ for everyone, so determine what works best for you. For example, if you study late at night but don’t retain the information, choose a different time of day to see if it works better. While studying, you might also be surrounded by too many distractions, such as social media apps or the television, so try to set aside a quiet and distraction-free space to study. It can also be beneficial to figure out your learning style, such as auditory or visual, and use these methods to learn more effectively.

Find The Help You Need

One of the biggest reasons first-year students struggle in college or university is because, for many, it is the first time they have to deal with living autonomously. This can be a massive adjustment if they are not used to the organizational aspects of doing so. Unless dealt with properly, this can lead to depression, anxiety, and loneliness, which will negatively impact your grades. If you find yourself struggling because of these reasons, make sure that you get the help that you need to get your mental health back on track. Many colleges and universities have free counseling sessions, so take advantage of these and don’t wait until you are in crisis to seek the help you need. Don’t internalize your emotions, as speaking to someone can help you to cope better. If you have the funds available, you might also consider hiring a tutor to help you with complex subjects.

Consider Switching Majors

Switching majors should not be done lightly, but it is surprisingly common. If you find that your chosen major is not what you expected and your grades suffer because you are demotivated, it might be wise to switch instead. Treat it as an opportunity to find something more suitable for you instead of persisting and ending up in a career you might not enjoy. Take the time to consult your advisor, as they can help you determine what major could be a better alternative. Don’t think of switching majors as a sign of “giving up” or failing but as an opportunity to better align your education with your skills and abilities.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Above all else, learning from your mistakes and becoming a better student is important. Some of the most successful people on the planet have had to experience numerous setbacks and failures before they found success. The difference is that they learned from their mistakes and kept going instead of giving up. Don’t let the fear of failing again keep you from reaching your full potential.    


Failing a class does not make you a failure, so don’t be too harsh on yourself, as it will only make you feel worse and solve nothing. Treat it as the setback it is, but don’t let it stand in the way of doing better. More resources are available to students than ever, so be proactive and work towards getting back on track instead of giving up. Dealing with failure might not be easy or pleasant, but it will help you grow as a person and can be done if approached with the right mindset.

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