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Withdraw before you Fail!

“You haven’t truly experienced college until you have failed a class.” My older cousin told me this when I was in middle school. I didn’t believe him at the time, but I quickly that he was right when I entered college. My freshmen year in college, I think about 65-70% of my freshmen class got onto AP after the first quarter. In high school AP stands for advanced placement, but in college it changes to academic probation.

I believe just about every college student fails at least one class throughout their college carrier. Most people go through all of elementary, middle, and high school without failing any classes, so when they fail their first class in college they think it is the end of the world. But in reality, it isn’t that big of a deal, college is harder and a lot different from high school. So don’t stress out if you fail your first class, just retake it next quarter or semester.

Retaking a Course
Consider yourself lucky if you get the same professor you failed the class with. Since you already have his old homework, tests, and know his teaching style, retaking it will be easy. But if you are retaking a class with a different professor, you are probably screwed. Retaking a class with a different professor is like taking a completely new class. Failing my upper division discrete mathematics course last quarter inspired me to write this article. My old professor went completely by the book, but my current professor doesn’t even own the book. The subjects I am learning right now have not ever been touched upon by my previous professor. By the way I have failed like 5-6 different classes, and retaking it each time has been like retaking a completely new class, in case you are thinking I am basing my opinion off one incidence. I have even failed 1 course 2 times and withdrew once, and retaking it each time with a different professor was like a new course. That shows you how incongruent universities are with their courses. I guess my point is, try not to fail a class, because universities will most likely screw you over.

Withdrawing
If you even think there is a chance you are going to fail a class, just withdraw from it and get a W. Most people think “isn’t it bad to get a W”. Well isn’t it worst to get an F? W’s don’t affect your GPA, lets you retake the course as many times as you need to, and looks better on your transcripts than an F. Not sure wither to withdraw or not? Well its a pretty simple decision after you ask yourself a few questions. Did you pass the midterms and quizzes? Did you do most of the homework? Do you know what your professor and teaching assistants look like? If you answer “no” to any of those questions, its probably a good idea to withdraw from the class. Don’t risk failing by trying to ace the final to pass the course. By the way, students in online schools also need to be careful about when they withdraw so that they don’t fail. Also before you withdraw, its a good idea to talk to your professor to see what he/she thinks. Sometimes they offer you a deal, like passing the final with a B in order to pass the class, or let you know that the rest of the class is failing too, so there will be a fat curve. This may all seem like common sense, but I know countless numbers of my friends who have failed all the midterms, never go to class, and then don`t bother to withdraw before the deadline.

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Discussion

69 comments for “Withdraw before you Fail!”

  1. yeaaa.. this is true. you should withdraw before you fail.. and try not to get a W either..

    i have a 2 F’s on my transcript, which is a huuugeee mistake. because everything else is mostly A’s and a couple of B’s. it just.. doesnt look good to have those F’s.

    Posted by xlicious | May 5, 2009, 6:49 pm
  2. Great Article, very useful. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by accredited online college courses | May 11, 2009, 10:20 am
  3. Good post. I’ve had a bunch of friends who freaked after failing a single class.

    I told them a lot of this same advice, just try to get the same prof and retake it.

    Posted by Aaron Springer | January 15, 2010, 2:33 pm
  4. There is also the option of taking an Incomplete for a course, which is a little like “pausing” it and finishing it the following semester or next time it’s offered. If I had known about Incompletes, I wouldn’t have failed two classes last semester. Definitely consider it if you’re feeling overwhelmed or can’t keep up with your workload due to health or other problems.

    Posted by Jen | July 1, 2010, 12:07 am
  5. Also, if you have really screwed up all of your classes, which people do on a regular basis, for a semester and you really want to do it right the next time, you have the option to opt out of them before they are ever recorded by withdrawing from the university. I have known two people who discussed their decision with the Dean of Academic Affairs (and had something to say that wasn’t along the lines of “I just screwed up and you have to let me do this” because deans will be the first to tell you they don’t HAVE to really let you do ANYTHING), and they worked it out so that they did not have to take an entire semester of physical drops on their transcript. Then, when fall came around, since they had already worked it out with the dean, they were just readmitted.
    This is not the ‘best’ option by any means, however, a lot of states are implementing stricter withdraw and drop limits. I know in Texas we have the option to Drop, Withdraw or receive an Incomplete in a course. As said before, an Incomplete won’t really be an option unless you have something come up like an emergency surgery or personal issue that can be PROVEN to have kept you from performing your best. A Withdraw is known as a W(pass) or a W(fail) and here they definitely do affect your GPA, not nearly like an F tho. So, the new ‘withdraw’ is a “drop”, which you are only allotted six of during the entire course of your undergraduate studies. So, just be careful before not studying and thinking you can just casually drop courses as you please, because it might catch up with you depending on your states laws when you really NEED the option to drop later.

    Posted by Kayla | October 7, 2010, 7:13 pm
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    Posted by Rick | November 9, 2010, 5:10 pm
  7. This advice is bullshit. If you made the grades in high school and the ACT/SAT test scores to be able to be accepted into a university, you should have the brains to pass your classes with at least a D. I’m a 2nd semester sophomore double-majoring in Psychology and French and I have a 4.0 GPA. It’s totally possible if you don’t piss all your time away partying and gorging yourself in sheer laziness.

    Posted by J | December 13, 2010, 12:57 am
  8. The best advice would be to talk to your professor(s), try to bring your grade(s) up, and if none of that’s working drop the course(s) before it’s too late and it’s on your transcript.. You can always take it again later. Another thing that really helps is taking 1-2 electives each semester. They’re easy grades and it adds up in the end to really help boost your GPA.

    Posted by J | December 13, 2010, 1:01 am
  9. To the user J above, there are a lot of reasons why someone can fail a course besides partying. A stressful environment at work, extended illness, depression or a family emergency can get in the way of school work. You sound like a supercilious ass.

    Posted by D | December 15, 2010, 10:17 pm
  10. J, sorry to tell you that you that you are very arrogant and don’t know much about college if you are a little sophomore. I am a senior engineering student with all straigh As who does not party at all and barely sleeps in order to do all assignments and take notes from the textbook (even on ‘vacation’) and when faced with big issues in my life I did fail a course (although I did get at least a D). I agree that retaking a class with a different professor is not bad, actually it may be good: if you did not understand the material with one professor, why retaking the class with him?? Do you want to pass or do you want to learn and pass? Besides, homework assignments and tests change, my friend. As for withdrawing and incompletes, of course it’s better than failing, but most of us decent students don’t think they will fail a course, we think we have what it takes to pass with good grades even if we don’t do so good on the midterm. Xlicious, your 2 Fs don’t look that bad, especially if your university has a ‘forgiveness policy’ that makes them not count for your gpa. All As and 2 Fs just means you had some issue with your life or that the professor was horrible.

    Remember, all you young freshman and sophomore newbies: college is ‘higher education’, the last chance to study really hard and get out with a good degree and a chance to a decent living. There’s time to party afterwards…otherwise, go party 4 years then stay screwed for the next 40.

    Posted by Me | December 18, 2010, 10:03 am
  11. WOW J! I’m a college student… I spend most of my time studying and I just failed a course because someone in my family passes away and I couldn’t focused. So don’t put everyone who fails, in the “party box”. Who are you to judge others????

    Posted by Jay | January 24, 2011, 2:50 am
  12. J… I hope you’re just trolling and not really that closed-minded.

    Posted by A | March 2, 2011, 11:12 am
  13. There are many reason some canf ail out of college. That’s just a given. I am a LPN. I am taking pre-req classess full time for my RN and I am taking care of my 2 lil kids. It’s very hard! I don’t party at all, not really a party typr anyways… i don’t think paryting has anything to do with. If you just do not get the info or dont study because whatever, then u will probably fail. Point is to just withdraw if you have the option because at some schools, like mine, after you take a class twice and not pass. you have to pay full tuition times 3, out of pocket, with no financial aid… so..withdraw.. a

    p.s. i don’t believe that j person ..if u got so much to do..get the heck of here talking crap..please.. you must not have any friends because you need to hide behind the computer and put others down.
    p.s. to the person who lost someone…sorry for your loss

    Posted by tymar | March 4, 2011, 11:50 am
  14. sorry for typos..because i am actually doing an online class now..so gotta go..cant proof read.. u get the picture

    Posted by tymar | March 4, 2011, 11:52 am
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  22. @J

    Unlike you who be majoring in Psychology and French. I be majoring in Engineering. Not a cakewalk as you describe it to be. I left high school with 3.87 UC weighted GPA, 2050 SAT score, and 62 units in APs. In college now with 2.6GPA and just failed my first class. Talk to my professor???? These classes are designed to weed out students who can and can’t “make it”. Tough luck. 2 more tries before they kick me out.

    Posted by Chris | March 28, 2011, 2:45 pm
  23. hi i got a quest i got a gpa of 2.996 and forgot to drop a class and got an f whats my gpa now

    Posted by amy | May 3, 2011, 5:43 pm
  24. Sometimes colleges will remove your fails once you transfer.

    Posted by Jay | May 11, 2011, 1:58 pm
  25. I always felt like a dunce for having 3 incompletes on my transcript but after reading this I feel a little better about it.

    Posted by CNA Schooling | June 20, 2011, 12:04 pm
  26. Being 38, I’m not going to be as prone to failing most courses because I truly want to learn as much as possible. But I do understand that failing is possible due to extenuating circumstances. I hate Math and I’m so scared to take it. I have a feeling this post might need to be bookmarked. :) Thanks.

    Posted by Grey Haired College Kid | July 10, 2011, 12:54 pm
  27. I’ve read that many colleges (apparently not mine) allow you to withdraw from a class after the date if you have a valid reason for doing so (e.g. work, family illness, etc.)

    I just so happened to have had issues with both my work AND my family. It was only a 5 week course, so the deadline was within the first week of classes. I tried to withdraw the following Monday and told them why I wasn’t able to do it and they said “it’s too late, we’ve already sent the paperwork in to the state”.

    So here’s my question:

    Who the hell do they send this “paperwork” too so I can make some really angry phone calls? >=[

    Posted by The System Screwed Me | September 1, 2011, 4:41 pm
  28. Well for me it’s an diffrent story.I didn’t do a very good job on my mass media homework assignment meaning I failed it, but my instructor told the class before he even handed my work and the classes homework assignment out and he said “I assigned Extra Credit” If you’ve been doing my extra credit your homework assignment will make up for it and since I’ve been doing the extra credit since the beginning of the semester I think I will be /should be fine.I even asked him to fill out a paper for my tutor to see if I’m passing or not and i have a B!So at first I freaked out, but then I looked back at that paper it said I have an B so I am fine,but if I were to fail an class I would freak!I come from an asian family so I care.

    Posted by Jennifer | September 29, 2011, 9:31 pm
  29. I’m currently failing my chem class and i think this is definitely what i am going to do… know I’m going to fail if i don’t….thanks for the advice…but this is weird because everyone tells me a w on ur transcript is the same as an F??

    Posted by liliy flower | October 12, 2011, 12:59 am
  30. I agree if you are failing a class go ahead and drop. You can retake it again and the fact that you did retake it looks good. But if your sitting there with 20 w’s on your transcripts, well that will look bad. Especially since most people college lifespan doesn’t die out after four years. After my four years are up next year I plan on going to law school. So its not over not by a long shot. My point however, Sometimes in maybe one or 2 cases its best to just get an F. When you retake and pass the F won’t be there. But those w’s will. Whether they affect your gpa or not

    Posted by leelee | October 13, 2011, 12:33 pm
  31. I went to college right out if high schoolthought didn’t take it seriously and sent just stopped going, I didn’t withdraw. Now 10 years later I want to go back to college but im going to a community college this time in my home town. But im afraid if they will let me in ir not bc of what happened the first time went. What do you think? Will they let me in and transfer my transcripts and start over there?

    Posted by chris | October 24, 2011, 2:07 pm
  32. I need advice!Is it normal to come to college and be falling classes?!!!!!! OMMMMFFFFFFGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!! Its not like I go out, party or do shit here……..I’m really in my room studying my butt off and not getting sleep. I do my homework, I go to class, I go to study session, and I read those horrible boring textbooks. WTF SHOULD I DO??????!!!!!!!!! I have no friends here, literally I have no friends. I don’t get to go to the gym, go to gymnastic practice, enjoy clubs. I really just sit in my room and work till about 3am. Like the only thing that is keeping me sane and not make me start my bad habits again is…..my boyfriend. He’s in Maryland, where my family lives. We skype and text 24/7. I KNOW THAT’S CRAZY BUT ITS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP ME FROM BEING A F*#KING DEPRESSING NUT JOB! He doesn’t distract me at all….he really keeps me from being swallowed by my loneliness. Well…..I’m sure people will say I’m home sick, but really it would have been the same if I went to school back at home. Because all my besties are all way at school. So I’m stuck cause my family is sometimes a downer. Like I feel dumb, stupid, and any other synonym that goes with the other two. The expectations for myself, my family, and my friends is really making this very difficult. I mean, I’ve been getting straight A’s since until I got to college. So how do you tell your parents this upsetting news??? I’ve never had to address this problem until now….I feel like a complete and utter FAILURE! SERIOUSLY. I look at people around here hoping to find someone who can help understand but from a distance they look like their lives are pretty secure…..while mine is going in fucking flames. Like I can feel the anger/disappointment in my parents when I tell them this. Like I told them that I wouldn’t be giving them straight A’s but I also promised improvement in exams(I told them about my exams). It just feel like I’m wasting their time and I’m not improving. Oh, by the way did I tell the semester ends in Dec.18 and late drop Nov.11?! YEAH I’M FUCKED BEYOND REDEMPTION RIGHT NOW!!!!!! Sorry about the cursing I just feel stressed and just feel like crying while typing this but I won’t cause my boyfriend is on. And I hate people seeing me cry regardless of how close we are.

    Posted by Courtney | November 3, 2011, 10:56 pm
  33. im fuckin up pretty bad here too. i came here thinking it would be cake but my first quarter i have three f’s, out of four classes. I talked to my teachers and they will try to help me get a pass on the p/np scale but things are feeling pretty bleak. Im much much more worried about my financial aide than anything because I can definitely study much much harder next quarter than i did this quarter.

    Posted by Andy | November 3, 2011, 11:52 pm
  34. Great article. I am currently attending community college, and I am almost finish with my general education courses before I am able to transfer to a university of my choice.

    Throughout my education, I have always had difficulties with Algebra, and I recently withdrew from the course because I was doing poorly on tests. I asked my professor if I should withdrawal or remain in the class. The professor advise me to remain in the class for another month, and I did so. Unfortunately, my grades have not improved, and I have also spoke with a tutor. The tutor told me there was not much she can do for me because I came to her too late after failing three tests. In order for me to pass Algebra, the tutor said I must get an “A” on the final exam. So, I had no choice to withdrawal.

    As far as receiving a “withdrawal” on my transcripts. I asked a counsler if a “withdrawal” will affect my GPA and my chances of transfering to a university. My counsler to told me that “withdrawals” have no negative affects on my GPA. However, most universities will not question a “withdrawal” on a student’s transcript, but will question “Ds” and “Fs.” So, if you are uncertain about not being able to pass a course(s). Withdrawal, and retake it. And most importantly, if you need tutoring. Get one immediately! Do not wait until it is too late!

    Posted by Michael L. | November 29, 2011, 3:28 pm
  35. Really helpful article. I’m planning on withdrawing from my computer programming course because I did so bad on the midterm and I just can’t focus on the assignments. I think withdrawing and then retaking the course later will be better for me.

    Posted by S. | February 17, 2012, 1:34 am
  36. Leelee I hate to break it to you but once you got a grade in a class be it a F or a A it stays there on your records. You can retake the class and it recalculates the change into your GPA but records will show both times you took the class and the F will still be there. That being said a W is better then a F. I just hate how they have to record everything they can never seem to give a break to hard working students who just had one mistake or so. We are only humans, we mess and college is tons of times harder then most people think especially when your a naive Freshman.
    Also whoever J is you seriously have no empathy at all. Some people are naturally smarter and pick up material better then others. It just means I have to study harder. But that doesn’t mean I’m a bad student and don’t care. In fact I care a lot which is why I am on this site reading this article.

    I got a really bad grade on a midterm because I was emotionally in a bad place in my life. Now normally I would be able to study my ass off, condemn myself to my room (Except for class and the like) and study my life away until I bring that grade back up. But I got such a bad grade in only “1″ class that I would need to get near 100s on the 2nd midterm and final. Which for all intensive purposes is near impossible at my school. I would probably end up with something around the 80s or high 70s if I did this for said harder courses. But it still wouldn’t be enough to pass and you don’t want a F or D on you records at all if possible.

    Sure I’m upset J who wouldn’t be. Your comment mostly made me upset though because I came here trying to overcome my emotional disappointment so I can move on and have a easier time studying a making sure I pass the rest of my classes and here I find a comment that mocks and degrades this situation possibly making it harder for those who do need to move on. School does not come as easy to some of us. We need to learn to study smarter and better instead of just harder so we can do better next time and that is a hard shift to make in college. I am currently working at it so I can do better and won’t have to deal with this situation again.

    Posted by Radar | February 25, 2012, 2:51 am
  37. carrier?? its career…
    and now u know why you failed :)

    Posted by Alisha | February 28, 2012, 10:17 am
  38. I am having this same problem now! I am passing two classes and failing two classes! The two classes I am failing are part of my major which I normally do really good in. I am mostly an A and B student and I’ve only failed one course ever. It was this winter semester when I was hospitalised with very bad asthma. But I was suppose to graduate this May and I tried my best to start my spring semester off right. Yet, it was set back after set back. Like I had the wrong textbook that set me back a week of work in a accelerated course. Then, I got the flu after I came home from the hospital so I couldn’t attend class on campus. So, I tried to stick it out complete my classwork online and just do the best I can. Next thing I received a phone call saying my best friend was in the hospital because her nervous system is out of whack. Then I was like she is going to get better I know it! Yet, she is not doing any better at all she can’t walk and have to spend months in rehabilitation facility. I am so stressed out my life is so out of order now I don’t know how to manage. But I believe college is always going to have its problems down the road that’s what make it worth the fight and struggle! Also, I am living further away from my school and dealing with family issues as well.

    Posted by Katey | March 4, 2012, 12:15 pm
  39. What happens if you’re in high school….you’re a senior and you don’t pass with a C or better in an AP class that is not on the A-G requirements?! ….I’m stressing out now….I don’t want to even imagine how it’ll be this time next year :/

    Posted by sandra | March 8, 2012, 1:31 pm
  40. I am completing my masters in social work and should be done in May, however the last day of course withdraw, one of my Professors informed me that my grade is struggling and I probably will not get the required B to pass and graduate in May. (min gpa in all classes to graduate is 3.0). We had one assignment she is basing this on and I have another assignment and a final to go. Clearly I needed to sort through the information given to me at the eleventh hour. I am considering a withdrawal but am now being told I missed the day which was now 2 days ago. They said I could withdraw completely and re-due the entire semester but that is ridiculous, I have good grades. Sure, they would get another full graduate semester payment out of me. This is ridiculous. Any suggestions or ideas.

    Posted by Sean | March 29, 2012, 3:50 pm
  41. I am a freshman and I just wanted to ask. Is it realistic to be burned out in the spring semester than in the fall? I find myself just absolutely indifferent about my classes and every time I try to study…I just can’t focus? I used to be gung-ho in my Fall semester. No matter how much i try to stay focused…I find myself dazed. Perhaps I should assign less stressful classes in the Spring?

    Posted by Ann | April 12, 2012, 3:35 am
  42. Who fails as college yourr idoitas u sux dic. i done heaps a classes im awesum.

    Posted by Jacob ( Professor) Marshall | April 22, 2012, 10:05 pm
  43. Nice one Professor fuck face!!

    Posted by Ann | April 23, 2012, 9:36 pm
  44. Yea i agree with Ann, this professor sounds like a dopey fuck!!

    Posted by sean | April 23, 2012, 9:37 pm
  45. Hey Ann are you a professor? Probably not so shut your face!!

    Posted by Jaocb (Professor) Marshall | April 23, 2012, 11:25 pm
  46. professor my ass. where did you get you degrees in a cereal box!!

    Posted by steve | April 24, 2012, 8:07 pm
  47. hey steve go deepthroat a chainsaw…

    Posted by Jacob (Professor) Marshall | May 2, 2012, 8:07 pm
  48. yeah deepthroat a chainsaw your real fuckin sick, is that all you could come up with professor dip shit.

    Posted by steve | May 3, 2012, 1:26 am
  49. I can see why you don’t have the tag ‘Professor’ with spelling like that… its ‘you’re’ not ‘your’…

    Posted by jacob (professoe) Marshall | May 3, 2012, 6:46 pm
  50. einstein here guys, i personally know this professor marshall and he’s a really smart guy.

    and is hung like a horse!

    Posted by Albert (Professor) Einstein | May 6, 2012, 9:54 pm
  51. yeah you and that jacob would get it on you fags…..

    Posted by steve | May 7, 2012, 12:10 am
  52. I agree with steve. This jacob guy loves himself. I wouldnt be suprised if he was gay.

    Posted by harry | May 7, 2012, 12:17 am
  53. Hey bitches!
    Dont you go talking smack on Ein-town, hes down with all the bicthes!

    Posted by Tomas (Professor) Edison | May 9, 2012, 8:10 pm
  54. SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!

    The deadline for withdrawing from a course at my university is TOMORROWW :O

    I’m failing programming in Java. I have a chance to pass the class, which is basically my only goal if were to stay in the class, but I don’t know!! I don’t want to take summer school!! Should I try my chances and stick with it, or do summer school??? HELP ME!!!

    I have 2 F’s on my transcript, BOTH IN CHEMISTRY (Which was my gigantic mistake–I took chemistry even though I absolutely suck at General Chemsitry and I hated it. I have no idea why i took: to experiment maybe and see what i like even though i hated it??).

    So the rest of my grades are pretty much B’s; I passed Multivariable Calculus, and I realized Math is my strong subject, so I decided to do programming. But it’s not going very well!!

    IS A WITHDRAW CONSIDERED A FAILED ATTEMPT EVEN THOUGH YOUR GPA IS NOT AFFECTED AND AN “F” IS NOT EXPLICITLY ON YOUR TRANSCRIPT?? I’M FREAKING OUT!!!!!!! XO

    Posted by WhatShouldIDo | May 10, 2012, 6:25 pm
  55. Keep on working, great job!

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  56. Do you know if there is policy or law that doesn’t allow the student to go to the class as listener after withdrawing from a class, of course with a “w”, and the class being paid in total. I mean, my professor just told me that I couldn’t come back to the class because i drop it, but still would like to go to the lectures to learn the content, so I will be ready when i retake it. (Florida)

    Posted by Dani | July 16, 2013, 9:22 pm
  57. Most people that I know who fail are engineering majors. It’s actually pretty hard for the liberal arts, or non-engineering majors to fail. I’ve just experienced what it’s like to take engineering classes, and they aren’t a joke. It’s really stressful, and I’m exhausted from all the studying for the 9th consecutive month. Failures only make me resolve to accomplish something even more. Although I tried my best, I really wasn’t thinking that it would be this difficult. There’s going to be 3 F’s on my transcript after one year of attempting engineering curriculum. I didn’t withdrew because experience is the only thing that will make the next time different. these three F’s are just one of the “must”-be-there stepping stones. I won’t let them go to waste. I won’t feel defeated either. I must remind myself that failure is a must in order for me to learn. If I’m defeated after I’ve gone through so much pain to venture on something that’s-prone-to failure, I wouldn’t forgive myself. It was a must to fail, and I did it. Therefore, I must continue to show that the result of those failures didn’t go to waste at all.

    Posted by Sally | July 24, 2013, 11:00 pm
  58. I have had to take a class 3 times and I just got my grades back and my professor said because of a mistake I made on my final I failed the entire class…I made all A’s except for that class and now I have to try and take the class a 4th time and I have to talk to my Dean about taking it again and I don’t know what financial aid does in a situation like this. I agree that I have tried to take this class 3 times with different teachers and each one was totally different…I was doing wonderful in this class my whole semester until my professor decided to screw my grade up and give me an “F” just for the final and that was all he counted…it’s not fair in the least but I still have to deal with it!! If financial aid won’t pay then I can’t finish school because I cannot pay for it so ONE TEACHER totally fucked me up!! I’m very pissed over this crap but I see my Dean tomorrow and talk with financial aid as well so wish me luck…Has this happened to anyone else, having to retake the same class this many times?

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