Education can be overwhelming. Whatever you’re studying and wherever you’re studying it, there is pressure on you to perform. When you find yourself under pressure in the academic world, you also find yourself threatened by failure.

Failure is a dreaded concept. Some students taste failure very early on in their education, others begin to fail years into their university studies, and, yes, some lucky students have the tenacity to never fail at all. Yet these people still feel the pressure, and can often fail to meet their own standards.

Failure is universal. We all experience it in some way or another, and how you deal with that failure is far more important than the failure itself. This lends itself to our first tip.


Let it go

You’ve just failed a big assignment. You’re scared to tell your parents, you’re embarassed to tell your friends, you’re jealous of your chuffed-looking classmates that aced it, and you feel like you’ve wasted your teacher’s time.

These thoughts are not constructive. It would be surprising if any of these people wanted you to fail or took joy in your failure. The expectations and support of your friends and family can be a good motivating factor in the studying process, and can also be a source of pressure-based stress for some. Once the failure has occurred, though, they are no longer relevant. The failure now falls upon you. Look inwardly, figure out why it is that you failed, come to terms with it, and move on.

Moving on

Turn those pesky negative thoughts into positive actions. Ask your teacher for help. As the job title suggests, some of them are pretty good at teaching. Ask your classmates for a hand next time you don’t understand something. If you didn’t study enough, put a study plan in place. If you need extra tutoring, make arrangements to get it done. If you’re really afraid of what a particular person thinks, tell them exactly that, and you may well be surprised by their supportive reaction. Keep those eyes on the horizon, soldier. The war’s not behind you, it’s ahead.

The perpetual war

But what if you fail an entire subject at high school? A whole paper at uni? A whole year?

As some old codger with the surname Mellencamp sung in another age, life goes on. You’re stuck in the education system for such a long time, but the time that you still have ahead of you once you leave is generally a whole lot longer.

Earth already has 4.543 billion years under its belt, and I think there might be another year coming up next January. So if you’ve failed something that you’re determined to see through, try again next time.

Changing your mind

What if you’re not sure whether you’re studying the right thing, but to stop now would be a big personal and financial failure?

This is a super common feeling. Most people that I went to uni with openly discussed this, and many of them left and went straight into the workforce, changed courses, or just kept on battling. There’s nothing wrong with any of these courses of action, as long as you pick the one that you honestly consider to be the best long-term decision for you.

If you’ve realised that you’re deeply unsatisfied with your fine arts course and have discovered a long lost passion for accounting, or six months into your building apprenticeship you develop a fondness for plumbing, it’s perfectly reasonable to change your goals and sacrifice the necessary time and money.

Finishing a qualification because you’ve invested in it may not be the best decision if you’ll just want to quit the first job you get once you’re qualified. Your decision should be based on whether your feelings of apprehension are genuinely significant or not.


I’m about to fail to end this article in an original fashion, but I shall succeed in quoting somebody who has already said all of this far more succinctly.

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” John Wooden



JACK LEONARD is a Cinema and Media graduate with a penchant for dogs that look like wolves. He’s a music enthusiast who divides his time evenly between consuming unhealthy amounts of media and getting lost in forests.