Why am I failing my classes in high school?

An exceptional student told me that he was struggling in a class. I asked "are you failing?" He said "Good God, no! You have to actually try to fail. I am just struggling to get an A"

I asked him, "What do you mean, you have to try to get an F?", the idea that you have to make an effort to fail seems absurd. After all, most people think the less effort you put in the more likely that you will fail.

He said, imagine you are in a dance class and everyone is dancing. Well, imagine that you refuse to dance. Everyone else is dancing because there is music on, the teacher is looking at you expectantly, if you don't dance, you have to repeat the same steps over again, you might have to do it again next year rather than move on to something else, if the teacher compliments you on your dance moves, it makes you the envy of your friends. People compete to be the best dancer. There might even be an internship that pays lots of money if you finish the class. Another words, there is tremendous social, peer, parent, teacher, and economic pressure to just dance. But you say "No thanks!"

You take the social pressure. You take the teacher's pressure. You take the parent's pressure. You just say NO!

Another words, you are simply resisting all of the pressure from the teacher, from your peers, from society, from even yourself and simply standing there without moving. That is a tremendous amount of energy exerted to resist the tide - a lot of effort. A ship in the sea is always pushed by the tide and wind to go towards a direction - movement is inevitable. It takes energy to resist the forces of nature and stand still.

I think you need to ask yourself this question: "Why am I working so hard to fail?" It sounds like a stupid question, but there are rational reasons. There are very smart people who feel like class is basically a way to teach you obedience. And by refusing to do every stupid thing, you are showing them that you are not some puppet to dance whenever they want. Perhaps you are stubborn. Perhaps you think you know better. Perhaps you are just not satisfied with what they are teaching. Only you can answer this question.

I think once you do answer this question, you will understand your own motivation and you can decide whether you want to continue to fail classes or become an A student. Afterall, getting an A is no secret. Just ask an A student in your class. Ask your teacher: What do you think I need to do to get an A? S/he will tell you.


I won't get into the lack of empathy from some of the answers to your questions.

Having asked the question shows that you are concerned enough; yet confused enough to need an outsiders opinion.

In point of fact though you give very little in the way of information that can tell any of us out here, the causes, as to why you are failing.

When I was failing in school growing up, it had to do with a combination of dyslexia, emotional angst at not being able to keep up, no matter how I tried. Being called stupid or backward by your teachers tends to add a lot of confusion to any teenager, regardless of there potential.

That's just one story; but the point is, your failure in school is not a pattern of failure in life. Failing at the present time, is more like those first attempts at crawling as a baby, failing over and over again and again, building to the effort that eventually rewards you with its success.

All of us grow and change, we learn, we fail, we step back into the mix of effort and so long as we don't quit, success will always be ours. Yet success is not to be measured by what goals we might have started out with; but more an observation that as wisdom grows, you start to understand who you are, and what you want in life.

So while you may at present be enjoying one of those many failures in life that breeds your success down the road, do not get despondent on one very small part of your life.

None of us are great at every thing. Some have visual skills that they develop in the arts, literature, some have a spiritual light within themselves that helps guide others to goals left unseen without someone to lead them where they need to go.

Some are teachers, lawyers, mothers, fathers, artists, scientists, all the infinite choices that any child has to choose from, as they learn to enjoy the expression of their strengths, and accept the beauty of their weaknesses. For only in weakness does our path come clear to what challenges await us in life.

I know, none of that helps you at math, or physics, English, whatever it is that at present you are having difficulty with in schools. Yet it does help if you understand what I'm saying.

Only by looking further down the road to success do you find the effort to keep plodding along at times, through the muck and mud of those efforts that will eventually take you to the success you are looking for.

Some practical advice:

Whatever the subject is that you are having problems with, seek out the help that is always out there. Your parents, if they can't help, your teacher. If you are unlucky enough to have one that is in the job of teaching; but has lost her or his inspiration of what teaching is all about, come online to those millions of sites that teach just about anything you can name from basics to advanced levels.

Instead of taking the summers off, look at what you are taking for the next year, and study, read, practice just one hour or two a day all summer long, and when you get to class, you will find yourself absorbing the knowledge you are exposed to much quicker with a greater understanding and eventually your grades will show it.

Ultimately its all about the plan and time management. You make the plan, then live the plan every second of every day. Sure it may take awhile. If you are one of those unlucky in school, where teachers have just passed you on to the the grade, so they don't have to work, you may have to go back to the basics that you never really learned that feed directly in the subjects you now are struggling with.

Lastly, you have to learn what you are good at. Not everyone will be the brilliant mathematician, yet anyone can come to learn how to use it, not everyone will be a world class painter, sculptor, yet your imagination can drive you to show the world something different, a different take on what art is, the point being only with time, effort and an unflappable sense of never giving up, you will always succeed, yes, maybe not in what you thought you wanted; but certainly you will succeed in what you come to see is your gift you have to offer the world.

We all have one, it just takes time to find what yours is....

Last note: if you are having specific problems with one subject or another, pass it on to someone here, I or many here can direct you to places where you can get help....

Good luck.


In my experience, mostly students who end up with Ds or fail are often lacking skills to be successful academically.

That being said, there are various reasons why this happens.

  1. Elementary schools did not prepare students well for high school.
  2. Students lack the basic time management skills, thus, unable to manage their time for homework, studying, etc.
  3. Students aren't challenged in different way academically for them to understand what learning style works for them.
  4. Lack of independent working habits and critical thinking skills.
  5. Unable to express and seek the help they need. (first step is recognition of the issue at hand)
  6. Student might have a special learning need that is not recognized by a teacher (often overlooked due to a large class size)
  7. Lack of future planning and understanding of the importance of the subject.
  8. Family issues, home situation, poverty, teenage stress, hormones and other factors that may affect the mental health of a student.
  9. Many other factors not listed ...

5 Rules that will guarantee you to excel in school, which most kids struggling in school fail to do. I promise you will go far with these habits.

-Never skip a single class, because you could potentially miss important announcements your teacher wants to let you know. When you are in class, pay as much attention as possible. Take notes in a notebook

-Cut out certain habits and behaviors. This can include serious things like alcohol/drug use, or even small habits like disorganization and procrastination, which can make assignments pile up (The best students all have excellent time management). Seek help from your friends, parent or teacher to keep you accountable.

-Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep means not being able to pay attention in school, feeling awful during the day, and lacking motivation when you get home. Since most school start between 7 and 8 am, try to get to bed at around 10–11pm.

-Make sure you do every single homework assignment. Homework is, more often than not, free points that teachers give out because they often grade for completion. Even if you have to hand in crappy, just get it done before the due date.

-Study for every single test and quiz . Most teachers make tests the bulk of your grade. This means that you should study everyday at home. Review the content you discussed in class for 10–15 minutes each day. You should review the notes you took. When your teacher announces a test is coming up, you would then already be somewhat prepared and therefore wouldn't bomb the tests. Then, to prepare for a test, find practice tests online, use flashcards, and use YouTube videos to help you out.

As a High School senior who's had a rough four years struggling through school, good luck! My sophomore year was filled with failing grades, so I can relate. I implemented these habits junior year which led to straight As. This year I took 5 AP courses and am also doing well. All the best!


You aren't providing enough information for a proper answer. Broadly, failing can be caused by many factors, or a combination thereof:

  • Learning disability like dyslexia or other
  • Mental health issue
  • Development delay
  • Undiagnosed medical issue like poor eyesight, traumatic brain injury, etc
  • Lack of good study skills
  • Knowing what your best learning style is and studying accordingly - reading, by hearing, by drawing, through physical movement, etc.
  • Lack of self-discipline
  • Chaotic family situation causing stress that makes it impossible to study
  • Lack of a proper study environment

There are ways to address these issues. Please talk to your school guidance counselor and your healthcare provider about your concerns and how to best address them. You can also use the internet for research.

Best wishes.


Though there are several reasons that this can happen, there is one that I see affect students over and over. That is, they don't specialize their time for a specific task.

Let me explain,

I don't study much at home, I take less notes than other students, and I am usually one of the top performers in my classes. This tends to confuse many of the students in my classes. This is not because I am smarter than the others in the class; it is because I prioritize my time in school.


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