How to Fail a College Class– 4 Surefire Ways to Self Destruct THIS Semester!


“Anyone who works hard enough at failure won’t be denied”  –Gene Kremin

So you’ve decided to take a college class and you want to fail, but your not really sure how. Take a few moments to read and I will share the secrets with you. I have been teaching for a long time and my current job is that of college professor, but I have taught high school, junior high and adult education. So if you are thinking about failure, this post should provide you with everything you need to know.

1) Don’t show up for class.

I know this one seems like a “no-brainer” here, but I have seen this perfected to an art form. If you are taking classes and you show up for even one (especially during add/drop) your professor will probably note your attendance.  If you are in a large school with large lectures, they still will be checking to see if the students on the roster are the sorry souls they have in the room. It has something to do with financial aid, but don’t worry about it.

Showing up for class and being prepared (we’ll get to that one in a minute) communicate interest and the possibility that you want to learn something. If you are grooming the perfect distain for your professor, your parents, your classmates or if you just want to wear distain like the lovely fashion accessory it is, DO NOT ATTEND CLASS.  It is nice to mingle your “not-showing-up” with a few cameo appearances where you ignore what is being said, text your friends about how lame this class/professor/group of students/the college happens to be. Be sure to display what an absolute waste of time the class is by failing to read materials, asking inappropriate questions and flout any due dates you see in the syllabus.

For extra style points, confuse the instructor by getting your name on roster and then not show up until after add/drop. Then complain to the registrar that you have been dropped from the class and go to the professor and tell him/her how incensed you are that you were dropped.

If you are taking an online class, it is especially important for you to not attend, but it requires a degree of technical sophistication. Make sure you log into you Learning Management System (LMS) so that you are recorded as attending the class.  Open assignments and quizzes. Skip around so that your professor knows you were there, but don’t complete anything and don’t communicate with the professor.  If you want to make things interesting, call tech support and get them involved.

2) Don’t prepare.

This tip is for those of you who cannot successfully complete strategy one.  Many of you working at failure need to offer someone the illusion that you care about the education and you need to keep up the appearances.  Your parents/financial aid officers/recruiters/coaches/probation officers/employers need to believe something about you being a student and learning stuff or earning a degree. If that isn’t true you should just tell yourself that their expectations aren’t really your problem.

The good news here is that if you are coming straight from high school into college, this will be a relatively easy feat for you. You probably have had at least a decade to practice coming to most classes with very little expected of you. Most classes since about sixth grade have been review anyhow and you have known that high school is about collecting correct answers and you knew that whatever you needed to know, the teacher was going to review anyway.  So DON’T READ the materials for class.

For extra style points, don’t buy the textbooks required for your classes. Come to class with a new reason why you haven’t bought the text and leave it vague and open-ended whether you would buy the text. Explain why you think it is stupid anyhow that you have to spend all this stupid money on all these books that you will never use anyway. I mean, they didn’t make you buy them in high school right? Why should this be different?

3) Don’t communicate when you are having trouble.

If you are having trouble completing strategies one and two, this one will really advance you in your goal.  This strategy really comes in handy when you need to look like you are trying and you need to keep your desire to fail a secret. Your professor has published his/her email, office phone and office hours in the syllabus, so you need to exercise care when avoiding communication because there are so many ways to be tricked into calling or emailing a question that your professor might readily answer and then you’d be responsible for doing something. Failing is much easier when you have someone to take the fall for you.

Most colleges have learning centers to help students with questions in subject areas.  They have tutors and student led review session and open study areas for science, math, literature, writing, research. Do not be lured into such a place. These places will discover some of the strategies you are using and will attempt to help you correct your behavior. They will be perplexed about your true ends, to achieve failure and they shouldn’t be involved.

For extra style points, send your professor cryptic messages either after class or in an email. Your professor needs to know that you are confused, but not in a specific way more in a general way, like you are complaining about the subject matter or their style of teaching or the time of day the class meets or some obligation you have that keeps you from really understanding the material. For a power up, when you email, don’t identify yourself or what class you are in, just dive right into your complaint.  This email will establish your argument later in the Dean’s Office as to why you are failing and who is responsible.  Certainly it won’t be you.

4) Don’t make any friends.

This is critical and it is especially for those of you who are not successful with the first 3 strategies. If you have people in the class with whom you talk and the reason you know each other is that you are in the same class. Again, high school has been a great help in this regard also. You undoubtedly have learned that you are only responsible for yourself, your work and your grades in high school. Subject matter in high school has been divided into discreet and disconnected sections and any discussion of subject matter was important if it was going to be on Friday’s quiz. Also, you are painfully aware, that all discussions about subject matter ceases when the bell rings and classes change.

If you make friends and begin to talk about the topics discussed in class, you might be mistaken for a person who cares and might want to learn something.  Also, any of the other strategies you are employing to achieve failure might be discovered and you would be expected to explain the reasons you intend to fail.  If you are in a conversation with a group of people with to whom you are not related who you care about (a.k.a “friends”) they might try to help you pass or worse, form a study group where you would face social pressure to review materials, work on projects and if you aren’t careful, you might end up enjoying yourself.

Critical point: If you have friends in class then you might be able to get information that you missed, either because you don’t have notes or because you you missed class.  Other members of the class will know about when assignments are due or where to find bits of information that you missed.  You will have a MUCH harder time failing if you get this information from them.

If you follow these simple steps, you will be sure to fail. You might even be able to convince yourself that someone else is the reason you failed, but don’t let anyone take your credit; it will be all you.


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