Skip links

Failing Grades at Community College: Will They Kill Me?

Sometimes people write with personal questions, seeking advice for their particular situation.

I received one today from a student at a community college who had a couple of failing grades.  Clearly, the student had finally woken up and figured out that getting Fs was not such a great idea.  But with that new understanding, what is a student to do about those Fs?

Here’s the student’s question:

I have 2 Fs in Math 090. This happened when i first started school at a community college. I didnt know how dropping classes worked and i got overwhelmed. Can i still graduate? Can i still go to a university?  Should i start over at another community college, and if i do is it possible that those two Fs will be discovered?

And here is my response: 

Hi, and thanks for your inquiry.

With regard to graduating from your community college, you need to speak with a student advisor there.  I am sure they have academic counselors, and you should make an appointment with one to discuss your Fs.  The advisor can tell you what you need to do to graduate, as each college has its own rules.  You will likely have to retake the classes to make up the credit (if you haven’t already).  Do not be embarrassed.  What is, is.  You need to know how to proceed from here.

With regard to transferring to another community college, if you plan on transferring any of your current credits to that new college, your Fs will follow you. Unless you start completely over at square one, and do not divulge that you have already attended a college, your Fs will follow you.

I do not recommend this option for ethical reasons.  While it’s not good to fail, it’s worse to lie about it.  Fortunately, you live in the land of Second Chances.

From this point forward, what counts is how you respond to this mistake. If you retake Math 090 and get a good grade–maybe even an A (because you take advantage of every tutoring service and academic support system at your junior college, and you study like crazy)–then four-year colleges may be inclined to overlook your mistakes.  Now, you may not get into Stanford. But with good recommendations, a solid record of success since those dreaded Fs, and other good works in other aspects of your life, you can make a convincing case that you have matured, that you have learned the required mathematics, and that you have made up for your youthful transgressions of the past.

I hope this is helpful.


Mark Montgomery
Montgomery Educational Consulting

Reader Interactions


  1. I really needed help…I have a disabled father and I have not done well in school since I have been taking careof him and going to school…I went to college as a junior in highschool and got two D’s. I currently attend that same community college (Oakton Community college) and wish to transfer to Loyola University in Chicago…but I think I will be kicked out on academic probation together I have earned two D’s , 2 F’s and 1 A in college physics…I really need your help on how to succeed…I was thinking of going to Harper Community college since my grades will disappear from Oakton…but that means I have wasted a whole year at my community college…

  2. Hi, Amanda,
    I’m really not sure how to help. I understand that caring for a disabled parent is a lot of responsibility, and likely affected your performance. My question is this: what are the circumstances that have now changed that will make it more likely that you will receive As and Bs in college, rather than Ds and Fs? I cannot really help you succeed. Your success depends on you–and on making choices that reflect your circumstances. Your possibilities are still huge; but it makes no sense to throw good money (and time) after bad. Your need to create the environment for yourself that will allow you to focus your energies on your studies in a way that you have been unable to so in the past. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  3. Hi I am a freshman at the University of Georiga and I have made two Fs already in Math, I am extremely upset about this and I was wondering if I could possibly get into a Business school with those F’s on my transcript. I am incredibly stuck in a bad position and I have no idea whether or not I should change my major and if I should to what I should change it to. Thank you for your advise!

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for your question. Are you able to retake the courses? Have you sought out help from math tutors or your professors? I think the question you need to answer is if you are truly interested in business. If so, then find a way to make the math requirements happen.

    Katherine Price
    Senior Associate

  5. Hello,My son was a admitted freshman at one of our military schools,based on his excellent SATs,and h.s.grades.I so regrret that I had him start out at a local four year university.He has not liked the school although he is an rotc cadet as well as an enlisted member of the state guard, both of which help him keep his time organized and dont hinder his grades. Sadly this semester he only got a 2,75 gpa which doees not reflect his abilities.Part of the reason for the low gpa is the D he got in statistics.The military school does not accept transfer grades of C or lower.Can we ask his current school to “hide “the math grade?What can we do to get admitted in the fall of my sons sophmore year?I am besides myself with desperation and remorse that I might have ruined a wonderful opportunity for my son.I was only trying to protect him.I am his only parent,and am very stupid with no formal education.Please help me to help my sson.Thankyou.

  6. Thank you for your message. I am very sorry to hear about your son’s experience. Unfortunately, schools typically won’t “hide” a grade. However, there may be options to repeat the course or a course forgiveness program either at his college or through another local college. I would encourage him to go in and speak with his academic advisor to see what his options might be. Best of luck to you and your son!

  7. I go to Wallace community college in midland city,al. Ihave just took my final in math 090-1 which is a non credit class, I failed my final resulting in me failing the class, do I have to retake the class, since it is not a credit class and since I will be taking math 116 this summer,?

  8. Hello Heather,

    More than likely you will have to retake the class since it is probably a prerequisite for the math class you are taking this summer. You should check with the academic advising office of your college as soon as possible.

    Katherine Price

  9. Hello everyone! I’m having a similar dilemma.

    I was barely able to walk during my graduation of high school and took the next year off, trying to figure out what it was I was doing and going with my life. I then started going to the local community college full-time, still not knowing what I wanted to do and wasn’t really motivated to achieve much of anything. During my second semester there, I became so overwhelmed, I had given up and failed all four of my classes during that second semester. I took the next year off to work and have finally developed a plan. I want to become an accountant but I’m not quite sure how to go about it at this point. Should I switch my major at my community college (from general studies) over to accounting and retake the classes I had failed? Or could I potentially start over at another school?

  10. Hello my name is Beth, I go to College of the Canyons in California. I have been doing well academically for the past year and a half, but this semester I got very depressed and failed my political science course. I’m worried I wont get into any UC school, for example UCLA. If i retook the course and I earned an A could I still have the possibility of being able to get into UCLA with the F on my transcript? (I am also a biology major with the dream of Med School)

  11. I really struggled my first year of college, failed math for three straight semesters, is it true that the college can charge in state and out of state fees for failing a class to many times?

  12. Hi, Shayla. If you enroll in the class, you have to pay for it, no matter how many times you may fail it. Not sure this is what you wanted to hear, but there you have it. It seems to me you might want to consider your options. It makes no sense to enroll in college if you are not prepared for it. If you’ve failed three times, I advise against trying a fourth–without doing something radically different to ensure your success.
    Best wishes.

  13. Hi, Beth.
    Getting into the UC schools, especially UCLA, is super competitive. An F on your transcript will not help. Your dream of going to Med School, however, is still in reach. You will have to get excellent grades in college (wherever you attend) and prepare yourself well for the medical school admissions process. Your past may determine your immediate future, but it will not likely affect the long term future if you find ways to improve your results.
    Best of luck.

  14. Hi, Julie,
    Either way, you’ll need to focus on your academic success. You can complete your general studies program, or you can switch. But what’s important is your performance. I’m glad your motivation has improved, and that you seem to be resolved to make some needed changes in your priorities.
    Best of luck,

  15. I am a student currently at a university. I am doing rather well here. However I am a transfer student. I recently got an email telling me I had some other possible transferable credits. The School only took my Fall transcripts, and I did really well during the Fall term. However I looked over the Winter term transcripts and I failed an art and barely passed a math class. But I still had some credits in which I passed other classes. I took plenty of classes over that year’s Spring term and did well also.

    Could the University kick me out of school if they read over the winter term transcripts and saw I failed an art class. My current Major has nothing to do with art, and I love my current major, and I am doing well.

    What do I do? I am panicking!

    David Yes

  16. Hi, Ive been in community college for a few years and this past year I finally finished all of my transferable courses. I got a few F’s, D’s and plenty of C’s which left me with a GPA of about 2.2. I applied to many different public colleges and haven’t been accepted so from this point Im not sure what I should do?? Any advice?

  17. Hello my name is Jeff, I attend a community college where I have failed 4 courses. I was able to get accepted into a four school but was then notified that I will not receive financial because my gpa is below a 2.0. Do you recommended going back to a community college and retaking courses that I failed, although they might not transfer?

  18. Jeff,
    If you want to move forward, you need to present evidence that you are ready to do so. Failing four community college courses is evidence that you are not ready for a four-year school. IF you can’t do the work at community college, how would anyone objectively have confidence that you can do the work at a four year college?

    Get to work. Either bring up your grades pronto, or else go get an apprenticeship and a job that leads to a decent salary. It makes no sense to pay tuition and flunk. Either make it work or move on with your life. Honestly, higher education is not for everyone. If you think it’s for you, then great: prove it to the world, and to yourself. If not, then know that there are plenty of folks out there who make much more than many college grads. I met a woman in her 40s who graduated from college, but now makes a whopping $30k per year. My plumber–not college educated–makes three times that amount.

    I would say you’re at a fork in the road, Jeff. In which direction are you headed? Neither is good, neither is bad. But flunking courses leads to a dead end…as you have discovered. Make a move.


  19. Hi! I need some advise. I currently have six failed grades at a community college as well as several dropped classes. I did not do very well my first few semesters. I took a few semesters off and now I’ve started back again. I’m doing well and I’m getting good grades. However, I’m worried I won’t be able to get into a four year school. The classes that I failed and dropped out of were not necessary for my major or general education. They were just taken “for fun” so I’m basically starting from scratch on my GE’s. Can I still get into a four year university with all of those failed grades even though they were for classes that I don’t need? Also, will all of those failed grades weigh to heavily on my gap preventing me from getting above a 2.0? From here on out I am getting good grades and I plan to keep it that way but I want to know if my past mistakes have ruined any future plans of a higher education.

  20. Hello, my name is Sam and I graduated high school in 2014, I just turned 19 and I need some help. My first semester of community college, I attempted 19 units. I had no idea it was going to be so difficult, I ended up dropping a couple classes and passing a couple and failing one. Then the next semester I didn’t take any classes and it put me behind. Now I have moved, because living situations are weren’t working out, I now go to a new college and took a couple of online classes and passed. Now I feel so far behind in school, it is going to take me forever. I have not taken out any loans and need advice. I see people who take out loans are succeeding in school because they don’t have to work 2 jobs to pay for it. I’m trying to get a degree by half assing the school. I need advice on how to do college with my bad situation. Please help

  21. So an F in one class isn’t necessarily going to derail u academically? I have my Ba in advertising with a pretty gpa, then a few years later realized my calling was social work. The social work program at my community college Partners with a private college in the area so that all of our social work classes from the community college will transfer when we move onto the four-year college. I have never failed a class, except this semester. It is my first semester back after a few years, and I have an online class that I am really really struggling with – I know for a fact and prior experience that online classes do not mesh well at all with my learning style, and I tried everything I could do to take it in a classroom setting, especially since it was a social work class. That wasn’t possible and I’ve tried my best but I’m just not keeping up. Obviously I am prepared and eager retake it. If I retake it and do well, I know it will erase the initial F but will they look at the passing grade assuming I do well when I retake it, which I plan to, and not judge the first F as harshly by chance? I really want to do well, the online classes are so hard for me for some reason. I sought a tutor but they had no tutors for this degree course. I’ve always taken pride in my schoolwork, but this time especially so because this is a industry that I am very passionate about getting into. So it packs of double punch when I know I’m not doing well in a class this time, especially my first semester back, and I just want to succeed. I appreciate ANY suggestions or insight!

  22. this is my 4th semester ive taken 3 credit courses and 1 non credit class i have 4 kids that are in sports and i got overwhelmed. i failed 2 of the credit courses with a low d and now im worried i wont be able to continue with school because i wont get to have financial aide anymore. my gpa is 2.8 for now do you think ill still be able to get financial aide and would it pay for me to repeat those two classes?

  23. My name is Delfi and I am currently attending a community college. I plan to transfer next fall, but I am hestitant to apply to universities because I have a 3.0 and have failed 4 classes. I retook a math class 3 times before I was able to pass it, so 6 F’s total. I also have 4 W’s on my academic record. I love school and would never consider dropping out despite my aparent academic failure. I work full time because my family is not able to help me financially since we are low income, so taking a break from work is not an option. I guess my question is do i have any chance at getting accepted at b-list universities?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *