Students Tell Us Why They Failed Their Classes

School sucks when you suck at it.

by Jake Kivanc
20 April 2016, 4:00am

Turning up is important for students. More important than breakfast. All photos by the author.

Turning up is important for students. More important than breakfast. All photos by the author

College life is dope. There are friends, sex, job opportunities, parties, and free student loans (you don't have to pay them back, right?). College itself? Not so much. I've gotten into heated arguments with my professors recently for skipping classes to do more productive things like sleep, read books, go to the gym, and work (for money!). It has worked out really well so far—I've pulled 80s in almost every class, and my professors were all left impressed that I never came to their class and still passed with flying colors. That was, of course, until this semester, in which I failed a course for the first time ever.

It's a shitty feeling to know that X amount of money you spent on a 12-week set of lectures was basically just immolated because you decided not to put in a minimal amount of effort. It is also slightly unnerving to know that, somewhere at your school, there's a professor who now thinks you're a stupid human being.

And I'm not alone in this thought. It's exam season, and people are stomaching the result of their poor choices. To get a better look into why people are failing their classes this year, I asked some students across the country about what ultimately killed their grades.

Edgar, Dalhousie University, Arts, 20
Failed: English
Reason: Bartending
I failed an entry-level English course because I literally did not pay attention to the first three lectures, and then it went downhill from there. Trying to catch up after that was hell. It just sets you up for a lot of work at times you can't handle it. I work as a bartender, so I have late shifts and sometimes pick up extra work, so I can live decently, and when you have three, four weeks of extra, overdue work to hand in, it just becomes easier to say, "Fuck it." It's like, what, $500 a course? I can make that up easy. I probably already did.

Silvia, McGill University, Criminology, 23
Failed: Criminology
Reason: Being a mess
So I messed up really bad by thinking third year would be as easy as the first two, and by that I mean that I could just kind of go to only a few classes that I needed to be there for and curve the rest. The problem with a lot of my courses is that there was discussion in class that I needed to hear to understand what the fuck the slides were about. I wasn't there, and then I went into this downward spiral where some of my main courses were suffering because of how hard I was trying to pick up the slack in this one class. I just went up to the professor and told her, "Hey, I'm really fucking sorry, but I am just a mess right now." She didn't care and basically told me I was stupid, which is probably true in some capacity.

Fiona, Ryerson University, Creative Industries, 19
Failed: Art History
Reason: No fucks given about caves
The course covered the first half of art history, from cave paintings to Egyptian art. Our prof was telling us all this stuff, like, "This cave painting means this in relation to art today." It was a lot to keep up with and care about when it really meant very little. I went to about seventy-five percent of my classes, but I was working on other things and working five shifts a week. It's just annoying because I have to take this class, and I know I'm never going to use anything I learn in that class outside of the exam. I'm trying to take classes I want to take, at this school that I pay money for, and do other important shit in my life, like, internships and real jobs. Then I'm in this class, and we're examining a rock from a cave.

There was this one time where we had an assignment, and I asked for some more detail on it, and my prof wrote back, "Well, we've actually talked about this for the last three weeks." I ended up with a forty-two on the assignment. She sent me another email saying, "Had you been in class..." Stuff like that, it does get on my nerves. I am going to be where I want to be at the time I want to be there, and you don't have to babysit me.

Kyle, University of Toronto, Engineering, 21
Failed: Physics
Reason: Not NASA material
Engineering is fucking shitty, and there are really only two kinds of us: people who are keeners and meant to work at NASA, and then everybody else, who may or may not work at NASA in the future [but happen to be a] secret party animal. I partied a lot this semester, and last semester, and I just realized that I don't care if I fail a course. If I have to take a heavier course load or even an extra semester, it doesn't matter. Engineers are in demand, and I have the personality where I will just make it, y'know? I'll make it. Trust me.

Sandra, University of Western Ontario, Communications, 18
Failed: PR
Reason: The weed, I dunno, I guess
This year was my first, and I think that's supposed to be the worst. I've been told that, at least. I don't know—it doesn't bother me too much that I failed. My parents were really upset, but I just told them it was a mental health thing. I skipped, so I could relax between work and class, go drink coffee, go work on other school work, sleep, smoke some weed. It was a dumb course. I'm going to appeal it anyway—I ended up with a forty-nine, so maybe I can just make an assignment up and bump my grade.

Dennis, University of Manitoba, Health Science, 24
Failed: Biology
Reason: House of Cards
The faculty I'm in [medicine] is uppity, bro. I take my grades very seriously. I almost pull ninety-fives in all of my courses. This one, because of some personal matters that came up with my family and such, had to suffer. I strategically thought, Nope, not going to happen. There's no way I can get all this done. I just have to bite the bullet. I accept that. I'm OK. Other people criticize me. My professors sneer at that sort of thing. I don't understand where that comes from or why people feel like grades define who they are, but it really makes me upset. I'm shook.

I will admit, though. I did watch a lot of Netflix on my reading week and such. I probably could have caught up. House of Cards is just so good.

Blaze it.

Samantha, University of Alberta, Mathematics, 20
Failed: Math
Reason: Anxiety
I cried so, so hard when I failed this. I really tried, but I just wasn't getting some parts of the course, and I get really bad anxiety. I had a panic attack during our midterm, but I didn't tell the professor, so I just left the room and ended up flunking it. I have a hard time admitting things. I told the professor I was going through some rough stuff, but I didn't tell him what, because I felt like he would just think, there's no outside issues, you just have anxiety, and that's not an excuse. I think I soaked my pillow when I saw that my grade had dropped below sixty. I knew it was going to be impossible to recover.

What did I do for comfort? I actually watched some old Dave Chappelle clips and ate rice pudding for a few hours.

Zi, University of British Columbia, Biology, 28
Failed: Communications
Reason: Too old to understand rules
I am way too old to care sometimes. It's hard being in classes with people who are literally ten years younger than you sometimes. It just makes you feel dirty and unwanted and also really ahead of everybody else. I tried to just go ahead and not go to this course at all after the first few lectures, and I actually killed every assignment, but the prof had this rule—I obviously wasn't aware of it—where if you miss half the classes, you fail. So I failed. But I don't care. It's summer now. Hope he enjoys being a snooty asshole.

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