Reasons Why Young People Fail in College

Why do so many young people fail in college?

Nobody wants to fail. Young people don’t plan to fail in college. Yet for some reason many parents and former students come here asking me, why do young people fail in school?

I’ll do my best to answer this question below.

“As I said there is nothing wrong with failing. Pick yourself up and try it again. You never are going to know how good you really are until you go out and face failure.” – Henry Kravis.

Before you begin your program I just hope you take a look at the following list of common reasons that young people fail college and try to prevent yourself from making these mistakes.

The main reasons why young people fail in college are…

Having to work.

Many students are in a difficult position where they must work while in school. This is highly respectable but could lead to you having less time to focus on your studies, and possibly failing in the end. Work gets in the way because you have less time to study and you might come home drained after late-night shift.

Too much partying.

There’s nothing wrong with having a few beers after an exam but having a few beers on a Monday morning could be a serious problem. Drinking can easily get in the way of school. If you move away for college, then you’re going to be away from family for the first time and you can easily find yourself partying frequently.

If the work and night life is too much for you, then you’re going to clearly need to cut back.

Other reasons why young people fail in school are…

Not prepared.

Many teenagers are simply not ready for the rigorous schedule that comes along with some higher level programs. This is why many students take a break after a semester. They weren’t ready.

Family problems.

Family support is very beneficial while in school. On the other hand issues at home often lead to stress and loss of focus.

Too demanding.

Some programs require many hours on lectures and studying for exams. If you’re not willing to commit to the time requirements then you will not be able to keep up with your fellow students.

Wrong program selected.

Sometimes when you find yourself not interested with your studies then you’re in the wrong program. There are many programs to choose from, so don’t feel bad if one particular program isn’t working out for you. The best thing that you could do is to switch majors because this is the field that you likely want to work in for the rest of your life. Why would you choose a program that you hate? This is your life and your life only. You can’t always listen to your family and friends. You have to do what’s best for you.

These are the best reasons that I could think of for as to why young people fail in school. Please feel free to check out some of the great comments on why people feel college and leave your own.


  1. says

    Yeah, I’ve been there and done that. I dropped out probably for a couple of those reasons too. My main reason was a lack of focus. I’m a very good student (I dropped out with a 3.8 GPA, on academic scholarship might I add), but I lacked any focus on where I was going with my life, and how I would utilize a college degree. This led to my life being pulled in any and every direction away from school. Now I’m a returning student, with all of those lessons under my belt.

  2. says

    Having to work is one of the biggest reasons many fail in college! I’m a living example of that. Not that I’m failing in college or anything, but it sure makes it tough. I was recently married and am now working full time while going to college almost full-time.

    Try to adjust your schedule to where if you are taking a full 12 credits that you’re only working 20 hours a week.

    The biggest reason is that our time isn’t spent wisely and we waste a lot of time rather than studying!

  3. Philip says

    I would have to put a contradiction on the work issue, not that it is wrong just there is more. I know that when I had a job while in college some of my time was better defined and I knew that I had to schedule everything and the responsibility level was increased. This meant that I would go to class better because you can not skip work like you can classes and therefore you were already up and ready to go on a Monday or other people would ask why you are there etc. Just some other perspective.

  4. John says

    I agree with you, Universities have the student by the balls. Unfortunately, the more prestigious jobs are becoming more and more dependent on higher education. Universities know you need them, and that you’re willing to pay, and if you’re not careful, they can take even more money from you. Textbooks are a great example. For years you could get away with used ones, but now the professors change the book so often that you have to buy new, and when the semester is over you get almost nothing for selling it back, add to that, most of the courses have a required online component for the home work, and you’re in deep shit financially. Remember Universities are Businesses. In college you’re a number not a person.

  5. frustrated says

    I totally agree! I’m tired of hearing ‘the instructor is hard to understand (foreign accent)’ or ‘I started out good but then I couldn’t keep up’ or ‘my dorm-mate won’t let me sleep’. These are poor excuses. Excuses! Students can flunk on courses the choose in the major they choose. I’m tired of hearing lies and excuses. I want to say to them “Get off your butt and start doing something!” It’s scholarship money, parents money, grants, etc you are wasting. There are a LOT of students who work hard and need that money you are wasting.

    • DISAGREE says

      I disagree completely! As a current freshman in college, it is completely possible to start out good and then later not be able to keep up. Like the article says, sometimes the persons high school or community college education was not nearly as rigorous as the university they’re attending. While it shouldn’t be an excuse to not try, you can still try your best and not succeed. They have some services to try and help you out when these sort of situations present themselves, (at least at my university) but they’re not always successful.

  6. frustrated says

    Just to clarify my post… I was agreeing with doctor s comment “I think failing out of college is actually a feat that is very difficult to do. I truly believe that you really have to TRY and put forth effort to fail out of college. People that fail out literally do nothing. They do not go to class, do hw, or miss exams. Most times people fail courses is b/c they miss exams and fail to make them up.” I’m sick of that.

    For those of you who truly try and cannot make the A, don’t give up!

    I know what worked for me doesn’t work for everyone. I did not have focus on graduating when I enrolled in college after high school. I got a job, got a family and later re-entered college. So for several years I worked really hard to make it to the next step. I finished my BS while working plus being a wife and mother. Then about five years later finished my MS (as a working wife and mother). This has made a major difference in our life. My point is to encourage you to study hard, work hard because so many think they should get the ‘good life’ without putting forth the effort.

    My step-son failed one course Spring semester and failed every course this (Fall) semester so right now I’m speaking from hurt and anger. I am SO worried about his future. He would have been Junior at a great university and just blew it.

  7. MissM says

    I just recently flunked out of a university after my first year there. I went to a community college where I had a 3.0 gpa, but when I got to the university level things seemed… boring. At community college my professors seemed interested in the subject, taught us hands on, and even organized class field trips to see different work places that coincided with our major. I can honestly say that all 8 classes I took at the university level were not like this at all. Every professor I had would stand in front of the class for 3 hours and read aloud the powerpoint presentation they had put together, and that was it. Having a professor read aloud is no way to learn and gain knowledgable experience. Because of this, I got bored, unmotivated, and just stopped going to class, which resulted in me flunking out. If I have to suffer through “story time” classroom settings and memorization tests for 3 years to get a better job, then screw it, I think I’d rather work a mediocre job for the rest of my life.

    On a side note… any suggestions on how to tell your parents you flunked out of college? My dad was SO happy when I got accepted to the school he graduated from, he even bought school hats, shirts, and car stickers. He tells me all the time that the most important thing in life is getting a Bachelor’s degree. I already have an Associates degree and plan on going back to community college until I decide if I want to reapply to a university again, but I feel this isn’t good enough for my parents and they’ll kill me when they find out I flunked out. What’s a good way to break it to them?

    • Sunny 62 says

      I would say, “Dad, I did not want this bad enough and I was too lazy to go to class, so I flunked out, I will be happy to get a job and pay you back all the money you spent on me, I am sorry I failed you, and I am sorry I failed my self…..I will work and save the money for college, you don’t have to spend your hard earned money on me, I will try to finish my degree by the time I am 30, so I can get a good job and be able to support myself and a family when I choose, but in the mean time, I will support myself!”

      • Reader (name changed) says

        Wow is this ridiculous….Why would he apologize to his father for having “failed you”, when it was HIS university experience? has nothing to do with his family…. he can pay them back if they paid for it, but why does his family have any say in his finishing a degree “by the time I am 30”, his famliy isn’t related to his degree?

  8. Dad says

    One additional thing that deters graduation is the hardship that students endure just to get through the paperwork, uncaring professors and general administrivia required to get registered or anything else in college. We as US universities, make it just plain difficult to get signed up and attend!! Why is it when more college grads are needed, the Universities themselves contribute the most pain and overhead of the actual learning process.

  9. says

    My college experience was pleasant but i wasn’t well-prepared so I didn’t complete my field of study during the three years I had attended. I have returned to college three times since i still haven’t finished yet I have a desire to study hard and to obtain my degree. It is important to have a college degree because professional jobs have advanced to a high level of technology, state of the art and are innovative. College graduates have to have many highly skilled knowledge and technical abilities to master the high technology careers that are currently in the job market. It’s best to check your statistics prior to entering a field of study to investigate whether it is a “hot” job that is in high demand or if its a job that would lead you down a dead end street. I am older now and like the old adage goes “with age comes wisdom” so I would like to think that I am more well-prepared to have better study habits.

  10. c wotell says

    People fail for several reasons….the lack of self discipline being the most common cause. The inability to delay gratification and prioritize what is important based on consequence not immediate fulfillment is what is at the heart of our nations problems. Until individuals can take responsibility for their actions and their lives, they will forever be reaching for the unattainable. Without self-discipline there can be no happiness. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. The undisciplined will continually foul there own future.

  11. Tata says

    It is not just putting the responsibility on the student, I always worked really hard at studying and getting great marks. then the uni I went to had a strike. I was always in class before the strike, I would help the prof pass around the attendance sheet. Fast forward to the end of the strike. We were NEVER informed of the return date by mail (only email). I missed the drop date and left to study else where, the prof, was nasty. NO ACADEMIC WORK HAD EVER BEEN HANDED IN DUE TO STRIKE. Ge wrote on the top of the paper “student was NEVER there” BUT I had been. I contacted him several time to get him to provide me with attendance sheet or make a different comment. He never returned my calls – ignored me. Sometimes it is not the student it is also the professor. I was FAILED outright.
    I was suppose to go on and do a PHD with another rival university. Ironically, the university went on and did my research and gave me NO credit for it.
    University is all business – there is no real educational value.

  12. mom says

    I am pretty sure my son failed for none of the above reasons. He is smart, he wasn’t partying and he diidn’t have a job maybe if he did have a job he would have had to manage time better. I did..
    I think he just doesn’t get it– but he is going to go to work and maybe after washing dishes for a living he will get it. I found out he failed because I signed myself up to see his grades when his account was open one day. Imagine if I hadn’t..don’t know when he would have told me. and then there was no atoning or responsibility for the failure. I just don’t get that part….

  13. Facing Failure says

    I failed. During high school I had a lot of conflict with a few of my teachers. The conflict resulted in me giving up and blaming the teachers. After I graduated from high school I still hated my old teachers and carried my hate with me into college. I had terrible grades and did not care about anything, I failed 4 classes and got one B in my first semester because I was lazy, irresponsible and selfish. I wasted a years worth of my parents money and respect. Since then I have been working in the service industry for minimum wage and struggling through life slowly gaining selflessness, responsibility and determination. After four and a half years I am ready to go back to school and get the degree I have been suppressing for so long. I will be paying for my tuition and I can’t wait to see the look on my parents faces when I am holding my degree in my cap and gown. I will prove I can face my failure and make it right.

    • says

      My friend that’s awesome. I saw this in college. One of my closest friends in college was four years older than me. He failed out of school and worked. He made his return and there was nobody more focused than him. Good luck!

  14. Bridget says

    I am hoping I don’t drive my GPA down because the CPT test was hard and I failed at it. I made As, Bs, and Cs in college and will die if the GPA goes down!

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