The Fear of Failure in College

Oftentimes, professors assign students into groups. It’s usually the people sitting next to you, so there will be no awkward, oddball stances about who wants to team up with the “old” person.

The Fear of Failure in CollegeWith that in mind, from day one, sit next to someone who doesn’t look too creepy; who looks like they bathe and do their homework assignments. To ward off your weird factor, you might want to wear the unscented version of Bengay, don’t want rumors spreading.

Also, you will become a default team leader, and the mother or father figure whether you like it or not when you’re working in groups. But heh, you’re the ol’ gal or guy and they will respect your opinion. But mostly, the fear of failure will be clawing into your backside. Surely, you’ll channel that fear into diligence. The worst that could happen is the professor sends you into the corner for a time-out session while your ego gets tarnished. But college is not a place to buff your ego. Most likely, you will fail a class or two and get embarrassed from time to time. Ancient is as ancient does. With preparation, you can get through it without feeling like you just barfed all over your mother-in-law.

If you don’t want to work in groups with your schoolmates, present your concerns to your professors beforehand. He or she may understand. Sometimes it takes the youngins a little while longer to grasp on to what the term responsibility is all about.


“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel


To make your anxieties worst, most of the younger students will be years ahead of you with academic knowledge. They’ll make you wish you had paid attention in that high school, trigonometry class. But it’s not to late to start again now. Use all of the resources the college and professors give you. For example, don’t try to save face during an exam. Use all of the allocated time. It’ll feel like the pressure is on when all of your fellow students mosey out the door when it’s just you left in the classroom. Hey, but if you’re going down, you might as well go down yanking out somebody’s toupee!

Hypothetically speaking, if you do manage to fail, most colleges will give you an “R” grade–repeat–instead of an “F” grade–fail. Why? Because they don’t want you to lose their your financial aid money. A college is still a business and you are their customers students.

Also, get to know some of your peers so you can schedule classes together. Ever heard that misery loves company? It does. You and your peers can pass together and you can fail together. Networking also keeps you in the loop when missing class days, because you’ll miss a lot. Not only that, the syllabus could change without warning (yes, some professors are actually that unorganized). You could wallop in one day–like a lackluster star on American Idol–on an exam. This buddy system is encouraging, but it can also score you some trouble.

Gaining friends at school makes for a smooth transition and plunge your remaining semesters full-speed ahead. But if you pass an exam and they plummet with an “F,” you could lose them. Perhaps you both had made a pact that if you both failed a class, you’d repeat those classes together. You’re not exactly keeping your end of the bargain, are you?

No two people learn in the exact same way, especially if there’s a generation gap between you. The remedy: Try not to toot your horn too much; you can mix up the margaritas when you get home. And when your buddy asks you what you got on the exam, simply say, “I passed–but wow–I’m kinda shocked about it.” No one wants to be second best.

In any event, drop a college course if it’s dead weight. Think about it: You have four classes. You’re passing three, but failing one. You could try harder, pulling your other grades down, or drop one and get good grades in the others. You can always pick up the dropped course later. You can drop or withdraw from a course if you know you’re failing within the first two to three weeks, or even up to two months. In the earlier scenario, you can drop the course without the incident that it might appear on your transcript. In the later scenario, a “W” grade–withdrawal–will show the world how much of a quitter you are.

Dropping courses could also affect a student’s financial aid–which could take you from full-time to part-time–so check with the financial aid department before you get trigger-happy. 

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