Son failed classes in 12th grade


My son will not be able to graduate on time due to failing some classes. I’m expecting his college admission to be rescinded. It is what it is. I’m looking for some information going forward. We’re still waiting for the high school counselor to send us info on how, when, and where to retake those classes. Assuming he’ll pass those retakes, will he have to reapply to college from the beginning? His high school transcript looks pretty good, pretty much straight As with a few Bs, up until when the pandemic started. He’s one of those who was negatively affected by online classes. For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to focus and get online on time, and fell behind, and was never able to catch up. Is there any chance that the schools that accepted him will hold a spot for him for next year? Also, is it better for him to go to a community college for 2 years and transfer as a junior, or just basically take a year off, and reapply as a freshman?

Thanks for any advice,


You are not alone. I am seeing so many posts from high schoolers, college students and parents about declines in grades and learning during COVID. often drastic drops for kids who previously did well.

I really think something needs to be done about this. I am not sure what the level of awareness is at college admissions offices and have not seen articles specifically on this issue. I believe your deserves some clemency. In other words, I think the college should allow him to attend as long as he can retake during the summer or even promise remedial classes on campus.

Some parental advocacy may be needed and perhaps the involvement of a professional who can document the effect of the pandemic on his academic functioning.


I will reach out to the college and offer them an explanation. Hoping for the best, prepare for the worst.


So sorry for this situation. My kids did not do that great with online learning either. I really don’t have much advice but I’ll be rooting for your son and all the other kids that were negatively impacted this past year. It sounds like his path might take a short diversion and that’s OK. Good luck to him!


I would suggest that your son (not you) contact the college’s to explain the situation. You should discuss and write down important points with him before so he has a kind of script to follow.


This is a big red flag to me. It sounds like he may have an issue with self motivation and time management. Is he ready for college where they don’t care if you come to class?


You made a vary valid point.
Will definitely discuss with him about it.

Whatever path he ends up taking, I encourage you to look at the mental health services and accessibility offices offered at his school. It sounds like there might be an underlying issue, and there’s often a lot of support available. In terms of schools where colleges might not care about coming to class–is he planning on/hoping to go somewhere with small class sizes? Professors there will notice absences and often reach out to students, in my experience. That could be something good for him. Good luck to both of you!


We’ve made an appointment with a psychologist to do an evaluation to see if there’s a medical issue. Thanks.


Just want to add that if he has ADHD, and that could explain what happened, it cannot be diagnosed in a significant way by a neuropsych. test. A psychiatrist can diagnose it using a questionnaire for him and parents. You can even google questionnaires online if you want to take a look.

A neuropsych might look at focus and attention but every one we saw said the circumstances were too artificial and that a questionnaire and psychiatrist eval would be best.

There are, of course, other issues that a psychologist/neuropsych. can assess. It sounds like a very good idea. COVID may have uncovered problems for some students in terms of learning challenges previously compensated for before COVID.


It depends on the usability of each option:

  1. Start at community college, aiming to transfer to a 4-year school as a junior.
    a. Transferring as a junior with a substantial college record leaves high school record mostly (or completely for some 4-year schools) behind (but check whether target 4-year schools still want to see graduation from high school). However, transferring as a sophomore means having less of a college record, so high school record becomes more important in that case.
    b. Could be less expensive if you would have paid list price to start at a 4-year school as frosh.
    c. Usually, same-state public universities are the most transfer-friendly for applicants from community colleges.
    d. Suitability depends on whether community college has courses that cover frosh/soph courses for the desired major and general education requirements at the target 4-year schools. Check transfer credit articulation listings.
    e. Merit scholarships tend to be less available for transfers.
  2. Gap year, then reapply as frosh.
    a. Need to find something to do, other than taking college courses after leaving high school (whether by repeating failed courses to graduate or doing GED). (For example, work.)
    b. With a poor 12th grade record (lower overall GPA, downward trend), will have to aim for less selective colleges to apply to as frosh.
    c. With a poor 12th grade record, fewer merit scholarships available and fewer good-financial-aid colleges may be admissions possibilities.

It is possible that the college he matriculated to will be lenient if he can make up the failed courses. However, there is no guarantee of that (depends on the college and its enrollment situation), so the plans above need to be considered even while he tries to explain and appeal his situation.


Thank you!
Actually, his bad grades are only for the 2nd semester of 12th grade, not the whole year. The 1st semester, he was still much more engaged and received As and Bs, even though remote learning had already started. Perhaps, 1 semester of that was ok, but he couldn’t maintain that focus through the 2nd semester.

Your other posts suggest that the student is a prospective English major who would be attending a UC or CSU (presumably a California resident). For most community colleges in California, the community college to UC or CSU path for an English major should work well. Take a look at to check articulation agreements.


Is there any way to make up grades with teachers, so that 2nd semester is not so uneven? Maybe enough work so that he can regroup over the summer? At our school, marks for seniors were due this week. What about his school?

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All class grades have been sent in by the teachers, so no more work can be turned in.

Have you considered that your son might have had Covid-19 during his second semester ?

Maybe his only symtom was lethargy.


Good point, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t contract it. Both my wife and I got it. His lethargy and focus problem lasted for the whole semester, not just 2 weeks (typical of Covid).

COVID-19 does have a significant rate of longer-lasting after-effects. Fatigue is a relatively common one. Could he have had COVID-19 with relatively limited symptoms during active infection, but after-effects including fatigue? Particularly if the issues started within a week or two of when you or your wife got it.


Covid-19 symptoms can last for 6 months or more. If both you & your spouse had Covid-19, then there is a very high probability that your son also contracted Covid. Consider explaining / sharing this information with any current or prospective school.


Could a test for Covid antibodies help rule in the possibility of the student having had Covid?