Every engineering student has either failed or almost failed an engineering class in their life. If this is you right now, you might be feeling defeated, nervous, unconfident, or all of the above. Doing poorly in or failing an engineering class and feeling bad about it is very normal and common.
It’s important to remember that failing a class is not the end of the world. It is completely normal, and it doesn’t make you any less of an engineer. Even the best engineers in the world must have struggled with at least one class in their lifetime. It’s unrealistic to expect every class to just “click” with you. Here are some things you can do to either turn your grade around or improve it for next time.
So you’re failing an engineering class
If you’re failing an engineering class, take a deep breath and don’t freak out. There is still time to turn it around. Here are 4 tips if you’re failing an engineering class:
1. Don’t freak out
If you’re failing an engineering class, don’t freak out. Lots of people struggle with their grades in engineering school. There is still time to turn it around, and even if you can’t, there’s always next semester. There’s no shame in getting a low grade in a class, or even having to retake one. It’s more common than you think.
2. Go to office hours
The best way to turn around your grade in an engineering class is by going to office hours.
Office hours are tremendously helpful (in most cases). Even if you’re intimidated or think it’s too late to start going, just go. Professors are more than willing to help students. Some professors never have anyone come to their office hours so it could end up being a 1:1 free tutoring session! Try to go prepared with a few questions, but even going and just saying you’re totally lost is better than nothing.
Beyond going to the professor’s office hours, go to TA office hours if there are any too. Go to as many office hours as you can. The more the better. You might even find a favorite TA that works the best for you. Even if you don’t have questions, just go and do the homework for that class during office hours. Being surrounded by instructors and other students to help you is very useful.
3. Look into tutoring services provided by your school
Most universities have free tutoring services. Usually, they are similar to office hours in that the tutoring is scheduled at specific times and you just have to show up during those times. Unfortunately, sometimes these services aren’t well advertised. Try googling it first and if nothing comes up, email your counselor or even the student resource center for more information.
4. Don’t give up
Even if you’re convinced you’re past the point of redemption, don’t give up. It’s truly not over until it’s over. Many professors make the final easier than the previous exams, offer extra credit at the end of the semester, and even curve the class at the end. It’s not uncommon for your grade to jump an entire letter grade (sometimes even two) at the very end of the semester.
Dropping a class should be your absolute LAST resort. You should never drop a class because you think it’s hopeless. Only if it’s taking a huge toll on your mental health or is drastically effecting your performance in other classes.
So you failed an engineering class
If you’ve already failed an engineering class, don’t worry. You will move on from it and still be a great engineer. Here are three tips if you failed an engineering class:
1. Move on
The faster you can move on from failing an engineering class, the better. Of course, it’s natural and okay to feel sad and nervous about failing a class. Many engineers fail a class (or even a few) during college. It doesn’t mean that you’re not cut out to be an engineer. Don’t let it discourage you. You will have next semester to retake the class. Even though you failed, you’ve at least now been exposed to the material and will be in a much better position for next semester.
2. Learn from your mistakes
When you fail an engineering class, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Be mindful of how you’re going to improve for next semester. This can be studying more or earlier, going to office hours, or taking more time to understand the homework.
Especially as a young engineer, it’s hard to know how to manage your classes. With every semester, you’ll get better at learning how to study and manage your time. Just because you failed a class doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail it again. You will pass the class eventually, so just learn from your mistakes and move on.
3. Try a different professor
If you have to retake a class, you might want to consider trying a different professor. Different professors have different teaching styles, write exams differently, and run office hours differently. Talk to students who have taken the class before to learn who the best professor is (this is a much better method than relying on ratemyprofessor).
It’s also okay to take the same professor if you don’t think that was the problem. If you stay with the same professor, you’ll already be used to their style of teaching, and that is a benefit as well.