Most schools offer a semester of academic probation for students who are at risk of failing college classes to give them a chance to improve their academic performance. However, this puts a short deadline on pulling one’s grades up that may not be effective for students who are unprepared for the difficulty of college work, uninterested in their major, or who are struggling with underlying issues that have affected their attendance and grades. While many students who are failing college classes may feel pressured to stay in school, time off can help students discover new interests and return with more motivation and confidence.

Tips For Talking To Your Child Who May Be Failing Their College Classes:

Have an Open Conversation With Your Child

As a parent, you may be the last person to know about your student’s academic difficulties. In high school, their report cards may have been sent directly to you, but, in college, it is up to your child to decide whether to share their grades with you. Many college students choose to withhold their grades from their parents out of fear of judgment or disapproval. While it is no longer your role to celebrate every good grade and remind them to complete assignments, it is reasonable to check in on how your child is doing academically in order to offer support. Although you may be able to offer suggestions, encourage your child to seek support from their teachers or other resources on campus rather than looking to you for answers. Remind them that dropping out is an option if they need to put their mental health first, even if it may not sound ideal.

Separate Your Emotions From Theirs

It is natural to have high expectations for your child’s success, but remember that they may view their potential differently. In some cases, this may mean adjusting your expectations to celebrate lower passing grades and the effort they’ve put into schoolwork. In others, this may mean recognizing that they may be more discouraged than you are and refraining from giving advice. Ultimately, it is your child’s responsibility to make goals for themselves and follow through.

Identify Challenges They May Have Faced

Ask about how they feel about their performance this semester and what they might need instead of jumping to conclusions about the mistakes they may have made. For some students, they may have put less effort into classes outside of their major in order to focus on classes they did like. It is possible that they may have failed one class, but did really well in other classes. This suggests that they may have had a problem with the structure or difficulty of the class, rather than general study skills. Some students may have gotten caught up in the social aspect of college life and spending more time socializing or drinking than studying. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t prepared to be in college, but they may need to change their habits to more effectively cope with stress.

Make a Pros and Cons List

If your child has failed any of their college classes, it is not the end of their college career, but it may significantly affect their self-efficacy and level of stress. While they may have been given a second chance, staying at the same school and possibly repeating classes may make it difficult to feel like they are making any measurable progress, especially if they are surrounded by the same triggers. If they have lost interest in their major or don’t feel like their school is the right fit for them, it may be difficult to look at other options while still enrolled. 

Taking time off may also feel discouraging, but when students are intentional about taking a gap year, they may discover new interests and return to school with more motivation. Wilderness therapy programs introduce young adults to a variety of outdoor activities and independent living skills that help young adults shift their perspective of their future goals.

blueFire PulsaR Can Help

blueFire PulsaR offers co-ed adventure-based wilderness therapy for young adults 18-28.  Our students struggle with emotional and behavioral challenges, including anxiety, depression, motivation, trauma, and substance abuse that have affected their ability to achieve success in school and in other areas of their life. Wilderness programs push students out of their comfort zone and helps them to break the cycle of failure to launch by encouraging fun, healthy lifestyle choices. We help young adults rediscover their inner spark that fuels their motivation and confidence to pursue their interests.

For more information about how we help struggling college students, contact us at 208-269-7407. 

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