Managing failure at University level of study

Life is full of challenges and it all depends on how we individually respond to them. One could see challenges as stumbling blocks while another could see them as learning experiences whereas someone can turn them into an opportunity – what about failure at university level? Anyway, on this article, I am focusing on the need for university students in maintaining a 100% pass rate on their subjects especially on core subjects to the programme being studied. I am not yet a researcher but I would first define a researcher in my opinion – “anyone who identifies a problem or area of study, with the use of a particular methodology gathers any necessary information, which assist in making a possible solution, analyse it and give a conclusion for the analysis”. I am presenting a general research I have made on the need for students to pass their core subjects in the first attempt. I will then look at few universities across the globe which has related policies towards this, the challenges to the students and learners and the possible course of action which I recommend to be taken.

 I will begin by sharing my experience. In my primary level of education it didn’t matter what marks I got at the end of the year and it was by default that I proceed to the next grade the following year. Grade 1, 2, 3, 4…….7, then Form 1, 2, 3 and 4. These are categorized as primary and secondary levels of education respectively. To proceed to Form 5 and form 6 (Advanced level of education), it changes from proceeding by default to performance related and that is when life seems to be taken seriously by some students or have to be. Completing this level assists students to gain entrance to colleges and universities with better grades attracting entrance to better rated universities e.g. National University of Technology (Zimbabwe), University of Cape Town or Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Harvard University…and Stanford University (globally) – these are my examples. However, it is at this university level of study when some policies exist depending on the tertiary institution one is studying at whereas students should pass core subjects before they proceed to the following year.

 It is amazing to know how some students take failure for granted as some would simply say “I will re-do the subjects next year”. This saying goes “time is money” and I always like to express time lost in monetary terms though it depends on different aspects – individual worthiness, place etc. To me failure brings a bunch of questions that flashes my mind whenever I put myself in this scenario. Questions like these remain unanswered – for how long will this delay me to proceed to the next level? At how much cost – fees, tuition, living expenses, food costs? For how long will I be delayed into the job market which is characterized by stiff competition? What are my parents going to say about all these fees? Are they going to afford?….and won’t I lose this bursary I got?… colleagues oh?…..and why this happening to me? Am I studying the right course or what? What should I do next? Whom should I consult? Or will I get a second chance or should I quit this? This is tense indeed; thank God if you have never been in this scenario and if you sometimes faced this, praise God for everything happens for a reason.

 Well, this is my mini-research:

The following universities have been part of a rough research and it has been noted that they have some measures put to ensure that students maintain a constant pass on major courses – Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa), University of Cape Town (South Africa), University of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe), Melbourne University (Australia) and University of Sydney (Australia). Among the policies, any student who fails to achieve a pass mark is given a second attempt or given a warning and on sad instances a student may be discontinued with performance rendered unsatisfactory. It is during this moment when students feel the emotional tense of being at university. Some are allowed to re-take what they failed the previous year in conjunction with what they will be studying in the current year and this carries with it an unbearable stress. This do not just become a burden to a student only but also to the parents, guardians etc. At a particular university in Australia, repeating a semester had an approximate amount of $10 000 (all expenses from tuition, living expenses and food) as a cost.

 My research has identified the various forms in which students are affected by failing in terms of expenses incurred and psychologically. This has been identified as mostly affecting 1st year university level as students will be adjusting from the high school level. The level of failure shrinks as the level of study for students rises. It has to be acknowledged that examinations are meant to test our level of understanding and not as a tool to fail us. As a result, students should take all the necessary free services made avail to them by their respective institutions such as tutoring services and guidance and counselling services. Above all students has to exert maximum effort during any level of their studies to prevent the challenges that emanates from failure. Students should keep in mind that they came a long way from grade 1 to university level hence they can pass on first attempt as well.

 I personally recommend that having a right attitude towards what you are studying, proper planning and constant revision of study material coupled with hanging with the right people can bring about a positive result on our studies as students. Though there are many possible suggestions, I suggest the above.


Posted on 07/08/2012, in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Though even if you do fail; perseverance can get you through. I failed one semester in college but I continued on despite that. In life you will not always succeed, maybe because of your own actions maybe not. If you give up after failure then you will never get anywhere. If you continue to push forward then you will accomplish far more in life. Many people forget that you don’t have to be smartest or best to succeed, rather you just have to be persistent.

  2. That’s true Tracy. I have learnt that perseverance count more. Thanks for sharing your experience, really, it encourages and inspires someone.

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