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Sometimes you have to let your student fail. As hard as that may be for parents to accept, it is often a disservice to the student when a parent protects them from natural consequences to ensure that failure does not happen.

While it’s natural for parents to worry about failure, there are times when it can be productive for your college students — and a chance for them to change for the better.

Instead of picking up the pieces of their mistakes, take a moment to focus more on how best to support your student going forward. Below are five ways you can support your student if failure occurs.

  1. Remind them that failure is not the end of the world. Failure is a lesson that gives students a chance to reflect and learn. It’s a gauge of how your students is doing and it’s designed to help them see that they may not be making the right choices.
  2. Give them time to reflect. With reflection, we can ask ourselves some important questions. How does this make me feel, and what might be at the root of that feeling?  Fear?  Anxiety?  How can I ease these feelings?  How could I approach this differently next time?  When we allow ourselves to learn from mistakes, failure becomes a tool.  We cannot expect to be perfect; perfection does not exist.  What did I learn from this experience?  What can I take with me from this as wisdom?  Could I manage my time differently?  Can I seek help and resources in these situations? 
  3. Figure out if this is a fluke. For example, determine if a low grade, or low grades, is the exception or the pattern. Did your student fail one class this semester but do well in others? Is this the first semester they've done poorly or is a pattern emerging? Talk to your student about what factors contributed to the poor grade. Asking open-ended questions will be important in understanding the reasons for poor academic performance.
  4.  Examine the consequences. You and your student should work together to figure out what the consequences might be for your student's poor performance.
  5. Make an action plan. Determine what happens next. Being as specific as possible about a plan for the future is the key to preventing failure in the future. Ideally, with some academic and family support, your student can turn his or her failure into something recalled as a learning experience. 

The university is set up with a plethora of student support services equipped with dedicated staff to help students when they fail and help them get back on track.

Below is a list of support services the university offers. 

Academic Coaching: Assistance with personal and academic development, maintaining progress toward your goals, academic skills like time management, study strategies and more.

Center for Academic Resources and Services (CARES): CARES offers tutoring and study group sessions for a variety of math and physical science courses including PSY 100, STA 210, STA 296, PHY 211 and PHY 231.

Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS): Proactively scheduled tutoring sessions for varsity student-athletes of all sports.

Library Reference Services: Individual and small group research assistance including forming search strategies, finding information sources, navigating the research process and more.

MathSkeller: Support for students in all 100-level math courses, as well as MA 213 and MA 214.

Presentation U: Tutoring for speeches, papers, presentations and other communication assignments.

Student Support Services (SSS): Student Support Services is a federally-funded program created to support students who are first generation, low income or have a documented disability.

The Study: Drop-in peer tutoring for a variety of 100 and 200-level math, science and business courses. One-on-one appointments with peer tutors are also available.

The Writing Center: Assistance with beginning, developing or reviewing writing projects for any course, documenting sources fairly and correctly, learning and applying revision and proofreading strategies and more.