Why Intelligent College Students Fail

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What is your definition of intelligence? Is it when your report card has all 4.0 GPAs? Is it persuading someone to give you the lowest price for something? Maybe it has anything to do with problem-solving and creativity. Intelligence encompasses all these, but there’s more to it than those characteristics!

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Intelligence is a collection of constructs. These constructs work to provide a picture of a person’s total cognitive ability. Different types of intelligence have been determined as psychologists attempt to understand the phenomenon that it is.

The United States is ranked third among the world’s brightest countries. Yet, there is an alarming rate of college dropouts. The dropout rate for undergraduate college students is 40%. And, over 30% of the college freshmen population drop out before their sophomore year.

10 Reasons Why Students Fail

IQ tests can predict academic achievement. However, there is a prevalent assumption that brilliant students experience school difficulties. These students are more likely to fail. Here are some reasons why this is so:

Lack of time management and hard work

How would you rate yourself at managing your time? If you are like several students, your answer might not be positive! You may be overworked and have to work late to meet deadlines. Or, your days appear to go from one catastrophe to the next. All of these can be stressful and depressing.

Most of you recognize that you could be better at managing your time. Yet, it can be difficult to pinpoint where you’re going wrong and how you can improve.

When students practice effective time management, they are more effective at work. As a result, their stress levels decrease. They can commit more time to exciting and high-reward projects. It will have a significant impact on a person’s career. In a nutshell, students are ecstatic!

Being intelligent does not automatically make a student the best time manager. Many students spend time at the beginning of the year and then feel pressed for time during exams. So, to get good grades, students need to learn to manage their time wisely.

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Prepare a Term Calendar

Prepare a calendar for the entire term at the start of each new college term. Do this before getting too engrossed in your studies or other activities. You can format your term calendar in the same way as a regular monthly calendar or in a different way. Regardless of the format, your term calendar should have the essential information:

  • Dates of due dates for assignments
  • Dates for the tests
  • All the activities at school
  • All extra-curricular and out-of-school activities

Prepare a WEEKLY Schedule

A term calendar requires you to start your planning at the start of each term. But, a weekly calendar requires you to start planning out your week on the first day of each week.

Every Sunday, relax and plan out your activities for the week. Alter your weekly schedule as the week passes as new items appear. Do this even if it means preparing it every Sunday. Make the following preparations for your weekly schedule:

  • List all your classes for each day of the week on your calendar.
  • Examine your term calendar. Take note of the items you need to accomplish that week (projects, tests, and events).
  • Examine your class notes and the previous week’s schedule. Determine the things you left out the previous week and add them to the current week’s to-dos.
  • Include any out-of-school and extra-curricular activities you’ll be doing within that week.
  • Make a schedule for each assignment, study session, workgroup, or project for the week. Always include the day and time. These can happen in the evenings, after school, or during the school day.

Prepare a DAILY Schedule

You might assume that a term calendar and weekly schedule are enough to keep track of your time, but they aren’t. Students must also create a daily schedule of activities.

Prepare a daily timetable for the next school day each evening. As you finish each activity, place a checkmark next to it. Follow these steps to prepare your daily schedule:

  • Make a list of everything you need to complete for the next day from your weekly schedule.
  • Make a list of everything you did not do in the previous daily program to do the next day.
  • Examine your daily schedule for the current day to see any extra school activities you have to add the next day.
  • Include any more events from your weekly calendar that you have to add to the agenda for the next day.

Start with the big picture of your college plan and work down to the details. You will notice that it will help you manage your study time. 

Your term calendar gives you guidance and instructions for your whole college term. Your weekly and daily schedules provide you with the specifics to complete everything on your term calendar. It will allow you to work toward your term goals one day at a time.

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Struggle with teamwork

Intelligent people have higher risks of developing social problems. When someone grasps concepts fast and has high expectations, he might not do well in school. It can be challenging for him to work with students who take longer to process information and grasp concepts.

This frustration with teamwork can develop early if a person feels held back in school by being in a class with less intelligent students. You know what this feels like if you routinely did the majority of the work on group projects. Or, if your professor got mad at you for daydreaming during a class that moved too slowly for you.

These emotions might resurface at any time in one’s life. When a person develops an emotional spot as a child, they have exaggerated internal reactions every time someone rubs the raw area as an adult.

Intelligent people also have a hard time delegating. They believe they can do a task better (regardless of whether this is true.) This statement is especially true for those who have a strong desire to be perfect.

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Students having a hard time delegating tasks and working with a team should learn more about support. One should show their support for team members while they work toward their objectives.

They should show team loyalty by cheering on the group and assisting individuals who are having difficulties. They should see one another as collaborators rather than competitors. After all, it is as is customary in a traditional individualistic educational environment.

Be more understanding before you let your emotions react negatively to the team. You must always maintain self-compassion towards them. Appreciate what different minds can contribute to your goal.


As with any aspect of life, overconfidence is a bad practice. It is known as the Duncan-Kruger Effect. It describes how smart people often attribute a large part of their self-esteem to their intelligence. It may reduce their resilience and cause them to avoid situations. 

It can be challenging to be in scenes that reveal chinks in your armor if a large part of your self-esteem is on your intelligence. Working with talented people or intelligence, receiving criticism, or taking a risk and failing are examples of this.

Whenever you experience mingling with people above your standards, you immediately feel stupid. As a result, you perceive the situation and the person as dangerous. The astute individual may even want to avoid those circumstances, putting them at a disadvantage.

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Consider the advantages of collaborating with someone with higher intelligence than you in some ways. You’re doing something well if you surround yourself with these individuals.

Keep in mind that iron sharpens iron. Develop relationships with people you can rely on to provide you with constructive criticism. It will become simple as you become accustomed to accepting critical comments from people.


Being intelligent isn’t the same as being curious, but some people have both abilities. You find yourself getting bored with easy and simple things if you have both

Some college students base their success on innovation. Other students want to become experts in a specialty and repeat a set of behaviors.

Having everything – intelligence, curiosity, and fondness for learning – has its downside. You could discover that once you’ve figured something out, you soon lose interest in it. You could find the execution side of performance tedious. As a result, you’d rather be continuously learning new things.

It can be less profitable than specializing and repeating the same formula. Yet, that may be too monotonous or uninteresting for you.

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When it comes to your success, try taking a complete view of when it’s worth tolerating some boredom to accumulate wins. Rather than seeking drastic change, consider doing brief periods of boredom. It could be helpful to your achievement in the future if you do not get bored with simple tasks.

  • Discover something new: There are many opportunities to learn new things on the internet. A quick Google search will yield a plethora of how-to guides you can use. Brush up on your abilities and learn something new that could benefit your life.
  • Work on your résumé: To secure a job, you’ll need a strong resume and cover letter. Take note that most online job boards need an outstanding cover letter. To adapt your letter for each post, you should have a list of bullet points ready to include. Some positions require communication skills, multitasking, and scheduling, for example. So, you should already have three paragraphs written.
  • Keep a bullet journal: Life is hectic right now, and you’ll need to arrange your thoughts at some point. A bullet journal can help with this. This analog approach aids you in keeping track of your daily to-do lists and objectives. You should set out at least a few minutes each day to jot down your daily chores and track your progress.

Also, make sure you have ample outlets for your passion for learning in many areas of your life. For example, you should give time to yourself. Think about your profession, hobbies, physical health, self-awareness, among others.

Chose the Wrong Path in Higher Education

Students frequently examine aspects such as cost, size, and professional achievements. Even so, students must also consider whether their future institution will depress them.

Many students select disciplines that are not suited to them or in which they are uninterested. Students choose subjects based on what their classmates choose, which lowers their performance. 

After a while, they realize they have a subject in which they are uninterested. Because of this, students become perplexed, and a decent result becomes unsatisfactory. In a nutshell, don’t succumb to peer pressure.

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The first step is to identify what it is about the course that you dislike. It could be evident – you had narrowed your options down to two and only now realized you had chosen the wrong one. It could also be a general feeling that you aren’t as happy as you could be. There is a slew of potential causes, and you’ll need to figure out which one is to blame to fix it.

Is this a problem at your university? It could be that you like your degree program, but you don’t seem to get along with anyone else.

Or it’s too stuffy and traditional, or there aren’t enough people from your background. It could be that everyone is so focused on the bottom line of graduate employment. As a result, they overlook the importance of learning and research. Maybe you don’t like the assumptions others make about you when they find out you’re a student at that school.

Is it a problem with the courses you’re taking? Perhaps they’re set at the wrong difficulty level for you – either too difficult or too easy. The workload may be excessive.

Perhaps you chose a course that you believed would be hands-on and practical, but the first term is entirely theoretical. It could be that you have a strained relationship with your lecturers. Perhaps you had hoped for higher grades than you are receiving. Maybe you discover that you don’t mesh well with the other students on your course, making you feel out of place.

Or, and this is crucial to examine before making any changes, perhaps the problem is with you. The transition from high school to higher education is life-changing. It can be stressful for anyone’s mental health. 

Feeling down whenever things do not meet your expectations is a normal reaction. But if you’re feeling down but can’t pinpoint why, you may need professional help. It could be a mental health issue.

Mental health problems like anxiety and depression plague numerous college students. It is crucial to address this problem by consulting with your doctor.

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Lack of confidence

Many students lack confidence, and as a result, they are unable to complete their tasks and lose marks. Another factor for exam failure is a lack of self-esteem to take them on and work on them.

When students are unsure whether what they learned is correct or whether anything will appear on the exam or not, this problem contributes to many students’ failure. As a result, students must cultivate a healthy feeling of confidence. It will help them perform well in the classroom and get the most out of their college experience,

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Being prepared on test day is the best approach to avoid unnecessary stress. You will feel more confident coming into the test room if you are familiar with the material.

According to research, students with the lowest anxiety levels scored the best. But, moderately test-anxious students outscored their low-anxious and high-anxious peers. Being well-prepared for a test can make a difficult-level test seem simple, allowing you to enjoy reduced levels of anxiety.


Many students rely on the internet or other sources of information to gather notes or information. They also don’t take notes, and the only way they prepare for tests is by using other people’s lecture notes. This bad habit makes it impossible for pupils to earn decent grades; as a result, they fail academically. Exam preparation is dangerous when there is so much ambiguity and half-knowledge.

College students should learn (as they will in life) that they do not always receive what they want. Some do not realize how crucial it is to write down lecture notes. It is never safe to assume that the teacher’s note is enough.

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The solution is to take better notes so that you can study afterward.

What happens before your pen meets the paper or your fingers contact the keyboard is one of the most crucial note-taking strategies for college students. To take more efficient and effective lecture notes, you must first prepare.

Before coming to class, make sure you’ve read your assignment. Write what topics you grasp and make a list of questions about the material while you’re reading.

Having a basic understanding or awareness of the content will help process information. Furthermore, this will help you in taking organized notes that you can refer to later. Plus, it’s most likely what your teacher anticipates from you. You’ll be able to join in the discussion more readily. As a result, it will help you remember the knowledge and do better on tests.

Sleeping Pattern Issues

Failure might also be because of a weak foundation constructed at the site. Students go back and forth between previously memorized concepts and new information. It can weaken the students’ ability to grasp information. It causes them to get confused and fail.

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Unfortunately, data suggests that students have less sleep because of several circumstances. The college includes all-nighters and late-night gadget use, which leads to improper sleeping habits. Students may be missing out on rest time due to having to juggle study and work.

Sleep is a fundamental biological necessity. Every week, most students will sleep for 5-6 hours. These students are more likely to perform as poorly as someone who hasn’t slept in two days. If you’ve been sleeping through your morning lessons for the past four days, you may need to find extra time to sleep at night.

Furthermore, enormous progress has been made more understandable during the last two decades. It defined that sleep is crucial for learning and memory consolidation. The brain activity patterns go together with freshly acquired information being “replayed” during various stages of sleep.

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Take naps when you can. Napping has many potential advantages. For example, it can improve learning outcomes, and increase alertness, and memory development.

Some people, yet, who nap for too long have trouble falling asleep at night. A productive nap lasts less than an hour before lunch. Other suggestions include doing relaxation techniques before taking a nap.

You should also avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon. Many college students turn to caffeinated drinks to stay active throughout the day and at night. This habit is not the best for everyone since it can lead to coffee addiction and weak immune systems.

Some people who use caffeine in the afternoon take longer to fall asleep. A high risk of developing sleep apnea later in life could be another harmful impact.

Furthermore, you should turn off all gadgets before sleeping since they emit blue light. Blue light emission includes phones, televisions, and computers. Blue light, while handy for studying text and images, lowers melatonin, the sleep hormone.

College students should sleep better when they put their phones and computers away at least an hour before bedtime. They also reduce the risk of acquiring diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses.

Next is to create a sleeping environment that is conducive to rest. A messy, heated room with distractions is detrimental to sleep for college students.

Most college students live in a dorm. A dorm room can have many distractions. Students can lessen the impact by cleaning and putting electronics away before bed. Turning on the fan or air conditioning before retiring to bed is another option.

Lastly, create a study schedule. A study schedule minimizes the need to stay up late finishing homework. This habit not only helps you sleep better but also helps you avoid procrastination and cramming sessions.

A study habit becomes second nature over time. It becomes a part of degree-seekers’ daily routine rather than a source of worry and distress.

Lack of Resilience

Resilience is the ability to deal with hardship and come back stronger. After many missed goals, what begins as meta-cognitive socialism decides your fortitude as an adult. It contributes to your thoughts in navigating through sticky situations in life.

Childhood experiences tend to cushion the fall of your adolescent self as you acquire resilience.

College, on the other hand, is a different beast.

Students should believe that they deserve respect. They should know that they can overcome obstacles if they focus on their objectives. One of the primary causes of college failure is a lack of resiliency.

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Consider the advantages of collaborating with someone with a higher IQ than you in some ways. You’re doing something well if you surround yourself with intelligent individuals.

Build relationships with other people you can rely on to provide you with constructive criticism. It will become simple as you become accustomed to accepting critical comments from people around you.

It’s also crucial to recognize negative mental habits. Negative self-talk is something that almost everyone has experienced. Some people, on the other hand, are better at detecting it than others.

Being able to recognize these thoughts and question their validity can help you stop them in their tracks. It will allow you to build new, more accurate, and helpful interpretations of reality.

Physical and psychological well-being are intricately intertwined. College students, in particular, are prone to developing hazardous habits.

College life has a lack of healthy nourishment, insufficient sleep, and a disregard for personal hygiene. Many college students abuse substances for recreational or performance reasons. Improving your self-care is a crucial aspect of developing resilience.

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Unhealthy Way of Dealing with or Solving Problems

In-depth thinking and reflection can also be the solution to all problems by intelligent individuals. Bright people are accustomed to achieving success through their analytical abilities. However, they ignore situations where a different approach may be more helpful.

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Recognize when your thought has turned into an unhealthy addiction. Consider when other tactics, aside from thinking, are more likely to succeed.

Breaks can help you get unstuck. Allow yourself to learn by doing things rather than by reading books. Extend your knowledge-gathering abilities to help you get more efficient in research. 

Finally, whenever you feel yourself ruminating, interrupt it by engaging in an absorbing task for a few minutes. It is a powerful method for overcoming negative thoughts.

Wrapping Up

Academic success may need a high level of intellectual capacity BUT intelligence alone is insufficient to yield excellent results. If there is little or too much practice for the reasons listed above, even the brightest student may fail in college.

Are you determined to earn your degree and fulfill your dreams? Beat the obstacles and let your intelligence shine!

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor