How to Fail Your Online Classes – Without Even Trying!

Posted by Kate C on Mar 21, 2016 1:19:02 PM


Determined to fail? It’s certainly worth a shot!

Anyone can fail.

If they really try, that is. Though at times, you may have to try a little harder than at others. Take a look at these embarrassing college moments that will make you cringe if you don't believe me!

Take online learning, for example. It might be a little effort on your part to fail at that. After all, it’s set up specifically for students to succeed.

Think about it.

Online students can attend classes at any time, allowing them to work around careers and family obligations. They can work at their own pace, so that unexpected emergencies don’t derail their education. They can reach teachers and schools in different parts of the country, people and places – and learning opportunities – that would otherwise be out of reach because of travel constraints.

{Take this free quiz to learn to see if online learning is right for you}

Online courses also use technology that is accessible literally 24/7 in a wide variety of formats – from smartphones to tablets to laptops. Most people already use these all throughout the day and do so with ease. 

Still determined to fail at your online degree program?

Even with all of these benefits in place, designed to facilitate your success? Then read on.

Here are a few simple steps that will help you achieve your goal of failure. Follow them carefully and failing should be as simple as falling off a log.

1.) Don’t Make a Schedule.


College success takes focused time and effort. 

This is true for students studying at brick-and-mortar schools as well as for those pursuing online degrees. A regular schedule of class attendance and study times leads directly to success. But that’s not your goal, is it?

So, don’t schedule regular study times and stick to them.

Don’t decide when you will have uninterrupted time to read, do course work and communicate with your teacher. Leave it all up to chance. Do your work only when the mood strikes you or when there’s nothing good on TV.

Without a regular schedule, you can be sure you won’t learn much, and you certainly won’t earn your degree.

2.) Don’t Study.


Online classes are just like other college-level classes. They require study. Study to cover the material being presented. Study to prepare for tests. Study to be able to participate in a meaningful way in classroom discussions.

When it comes to study time, in fact, online classes may even require more time than traditional ones. According to a Huffington Post article, “The Benefits of Online Learning,” online instructors often assign more reading material than they would in a face-to-face classroom, simply to “ensure that students are engaged.”

So, if your online instructor gives you material to read and learn, don’t do it.

3.) Assume It’s a Walk in the Park... and a Piece of Cake.


Online courses are easier than “real” college courses, right? A cakewalk!

Except, well, actually, that’s not true. Many online courses are taught by the same instructors that teach in the regular classroom setting, with the same stringent expectations. You can expect the courses you are taking electronically to be every bit as rigorous as their classroom equivalents. In order to fail, however, you will simply have to tell yourself this is not true.

Do whatever it takes to convince yourself! Think of your online classes as easy-peasy, a walk in the park, requiring no special effort and no expenditure of time. Failure, my friend, is within your reach. Don’t let it slip through your fingers now by taking your coursework seriously.

4.) Refuse to Get Organized.


According to a recent U.S. News article, “5 Tips to Succeed in an Online Course,” online students need to find ways to “stay on top of their work.”

Organizational tips the article suggests include keeping all your coursework materials together, hanging a calendar with clearly marked assignment due dates, creating paper or digital folders for each week’s assignments and creating a clean, quiet workspace with all the study supplies that you'll need easily within reach. There you have it. Organization leads directly to success. 

Still determined to fail? Then become your own kind of union buster: refuse to organize!

5.) Have Unrealistic Goals.


When a student is enrolled in college full time, they can devote almost all of their time to their classes and to their studies. They can take 15 or more credits a semester and hammer them out with success. And why not? They’re in college to study, to learn and to earn their degree. That is their only focus.

If you’re working full time or have a family – very good reasons to take online courses, by the way – simply ignore these facts.

Pretend you are a full-time college student with no obligations beyond Rush Week or Homecoming. Sign up for many more courses than you can realistically complete. Assume you can finish them all in record time.

Your everyday commitments and obligations will, naturally, refuse to evaporate despite your unrealistic outlook, ensuring that you won’t be able to complete your online coursework.

Ta dah! Failure is at hand.

6.) Forget About the Kids.


Most adult learners – those going back for a first, or even second college degree – are, according to the World Education webpage, "Adult Ed Facts," parents who are the “primary caregivers of school-aged children.” Many of them, the site also states, are motivated in their studies by wanting to provide “better role models for their children.”

This means, of course, that it’s very likely that you yourself have children at home. If you’re really determined to fail, ignore this nearly un-ignorable fact.

Don’t make arrangements for friends or family to help you with childcare so you can study. Don’t find ways to keep your children actively entertained when you need quiet time. And, above all else, don’t explain to your kids that you’re not simply spending all this time on the computer because you’re bored; you’re doing it because you understand the value of a degree. You don’t want to be a good “role model,” after all.

7.) Keep it to Yourself.


By all means do not tell friends and family that you are taking college-level courses or pursuing your dream of earning a higher degree.

Family support is essential to online learning success. If you told them what you were up to, they might provide that support. They might encourage you and be understanding of the time you need to put into your studies.

Don’t tell your employer, either. You don’t want him to suspect that you’re trying to improve your skills, perhaps in a way that will make you a better employee. He doesn’t need to know that. After all, he might just be a little encouraging himself, if he knew.

8.) Don’t Put in the Time.


On average, an online learner, such as yourself, would need to allot about ten hours a week for each online course taken.

Putting in that kind of time would lead dangerously close to success. Don’t do it.

In fact, make sure that you don’t put in any time at all. Find other ways to use up those precious spare hours in your busy schedule. YouTube is always a great time sink. Oh, and don’t forget your Facebook page. Don’t you need to post some new pictures of your cat?

9.) Don’t Try to Understand What’s Expected.


Online instructors want their students to learn and succeed. They want those students to pass their classes and earn the credits they need to graduate. 

To that end, they present clear outlines for their students, making it easy for them to navigate class assignments.

If your online instructor gives you this information, ignore it! Don’t read the syllabus; don’t familiarize yourself with the class schedule or format. Don’t try to understand what is required to earn a passing grade.All of this information would make it easier for you to complete your coursework successfully, and that is, of course, exactly what you don’t want to do.


10.) Don’t Ask for Help.


The Internet is so impersonal, isn’t it? So what if your online teacher has told you that she is available literally day or night if you have questions or concerns about the class or your studies. Don’t talk to her. Don’t send that email or text. Don’t post a question on the class’s message board, even if other students could benefit from the answer.

Yes, that teacher is there to ensure that her students understand the coursework and do well in the class. That’s exactly why you should avoid her at all costs.

11.) Don’t Embrace the Technology.


Online learning programs usually make good use of all sorts of cutting-edge electronic media, including blog posts, tweets, online forums, discussion boards, podcasts and virtual study sessions.

By all means, ignore all of these.

If you engage in meaningful discussions with your professor, and see the subject matter presented from so many different angles, you run the risk of learning something, and learning is anathema to the failure you seek.

With the subject matter being presented in so many different ways, it could be pretty hard to ignore it all. Fight the urge to engage, however. Engagement leads to learning, you know. Just what you’re trying to avoid.

12.) Be Sure to Go it Alone.


Most online learning programs offer students a chance to reach out and communicate with other students...

Don’t go there! That might mean that you would find encouragement, get help studying for tests, get answers to your questions and feel connected to your fellow students. All of this could lead to success. Resist the urge to reach out at all costs.


13.) Refuse to Learn a Highly Marketable Skill.


Many employers today are looking for people with digital communications skills. They want employees who can facilitate and participate in e-conferencing, virtual teamwork and telecommutes.

No matter what subject you choose to study, by taking online courses, you will automatically be learning the language of digital communication. You will be learning to navigate online learning management programs, to create shareable documents and complete online training sessions.

Don’t let the idea of adding these highly valued skills to your resume distract you from your goal. Remember, failure is the target here. 


There you have it! Thirteen simple ways to ensure that your online college experience is a roaring failure. Failure is always an option, of course. The choice is yours.

But, with all the benefits online degree programs have to offer serious students – students who understand the value of a degree – why would you want to do that?

If you are thinking that success is the direction you are wanting to go after all, you can read an older post providing several online learning tips that will ensure you go further in your online courses.

You can also take this free quiz to see how you would fare in the online classroom!

Got any other interesting ways to pass/fail in college? Post in the comments below!

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