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Failed final year of uni, disappointing my parents

Community Member

I'm a 24 years old university student who has been studying graphic design for 3 years.

Lockdown was very hard for me mentally last year. I struggled to handle the study load and almost failed all units by not meeting deadlines. I was optimistic for this year to improve myself, decreased the study load and met deadlines. I felt like I was going well until the second semester rolled into lockdown mode. I was doing an internship along with two units and I let my studies slip, skipped classes for fear of judgement and missed deadlines. Now I am a month away from finishing my units, but I already know I have failed a core unit that is equivalent to 2 semesters.

I haven't told my parents yet, but my mother has already expressed her disappointment in me if I don't graduate this year because I will be a burden on the family for not becoming independent at my age. My options are either to exist the course under a lower degree, Bachelor of Design Studies (although it is not recommended if I want to pursue a professional career related to my degree) or repeat another year to complete my course, Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication).

I am honestly just sick and tired of University life and just want to use my skills to work, but I fear maybe I'm just running away from my problems and won't be able to find a job by existing with a lower-ranked bachelor degree.
I feel like such a failure and embarrassment to my family and feel like I'm never going to improve as a human being with my negative mindset. Someone, please advise how I could move on from here?

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey nat_97,

Welcome! I'm really sorry to hear you found lockdown really challenging and it affected your studies. I understand it's caused some issues for how you proceed and it sounds quite stressful, and has put you into a bit of a negative spin.

My suggestion may be a bit challenging to put into practice, but I think it is something that worked for me in my mid 20's (I'm now 29, about to turn 30! uh oh!), because I also had trouble dealing with work expectations put on me by myself and my parents.

Basically, i would suggest that you try to put aside what your parents want and expect, and just ask yourself which course you would actually want to complete. 1 year can feel like a long time, but it'll be over before you know it. It sounds like you chose to do Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) instead of Design Studies due to the job prospects - is this reason still true for you? If so, as long as you can manage the year financially or can be supported (like so many other people your age, so you are not alone at all in this), there is a strong argument to continue down that path and really give it your best shot.

In my case, my parents wanted me to do economics and commerce, graduate after 4 years and go into finance. I hated finance and loved philosophy, so I did economics and arts with the plan to graduate after 5 years. As it turned out, by not listening to them, I ended up doing subjects I quite liked, did well without the pressure of them caring about my arts subjects, did well in my graduate interview, and dropped my arts degree altogether just to start working earlier. Which is basically to say: you'll give yourself the best opportunities by doing what you want to do, not what others want you to do, and doing them well.

You sound like you hold yourself to a relatively high standard and want to succeed, so I think it's worthwhile giving yourself the opportunity to do well.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
Hey Nat, I really understand you. I failed one of my subjects and I've got to add another year on for a highly competitive degree to get into med school. This was a hard time for me just because of the high pressure and expectation but please understand this setback will actually work out for your best if you let it. Yes it's hard to swallow now, but it just shows your real and we are in a pandemic so of course your mental health is going to cop it and your studies will be affected. Employers are genuinely going to understand this, and I've had to swallow this myself. I think for me as well because I'm in the same boat my grades haven't been high because of so much in my mental/personal space, I've decided I'm going to focus more on building my portfolio and just showing I am a well-rounded, real yet still capable person. It will honestly work in your favour. If I were you I would 100% look at getting involved in projects, especially voluntary ones and give your all to that because 100% if you build an amazing portfolio compiled with your passion and true capabilities (not just grades which can be so limiting), you would probably have a greater chance at getting that dream work you want. Real life and hands-on experience is soo valuable and will grow your confidence in the field so much more too. You having okay marks with a degree and some voluntary work/ starting your own project could possibly even lead you into long-term employment depending who you do it with. You are probably soo talented so don't let a degree make you feel like its worth less, instead let it fuel you to tap into that creative driven side even more, who knows how many doors this could lock for you! Best of luck x

I meant imagine how many doors this could *unlock for you, sorry !

Community Member

Hello, it's been a while, I wonder how you are doing now days? Your post came up in a Google search because I'm in a similar situation. I thought maybe I could offer some insight, because I'm 39 years old haha. I have also been a student advisor at various universities.

So. I'm failing my final year (maybe) due to mental health issues. I might still pass, let's see. Anyway...

I wanted to let you know that there are plenty of skilled positions you can do without a qualification. I was hired at universities as a student advisor based on the fact that I have university experience and administration skills. Those jobs are over 75k per year 🙂 and you can certainly work your way up there to be hired in other departments. If you like design, you might also be interested in marketing or learning design for curriculum behind the scenes. There are many possibilities working at a university if you first get an entry level job as a student advisor, and they pay very very well. From there I was hired as an industry recruiter for student placements for 86k per year. Now I am considering a careers advisor position at a university. My point is that all is not lost and you can certainly work towards a great career. All you need is a stellar resume! Make it shine, sell yourself. Learn how to do key selection criteria properly with article advice. Make your applications academically impressive and they will hire you above the rest. All you need is the interview, then prepare properly your responses and put on your professional hat when you interview. You'll get the job easy. You can do it!


Also. I know exactly how you feel who motivation is low and you need to try to drag yourself over the finish line for your degree. One thing to keep in mind is that you have around 7 years from the date of your first university subjects, to reapply for the course and have your subjects ticked off as credit. You can probably have a few years break and then apply again. If you get a new enrollment you have a chance to get credit for prior learning and you might be pleased that the majority of your subjects could be included as completed in the new enrollment. You may lose a few, but that's ok. So your GPA is also re-set with a new enrollment. It's always better to apply for the same university as they can try to get you maximum credits. If you transfer to a different university, you might lose progress. Also, there are other courses you could do that have elective space if you wanted to try something else. An example is a business degree, Swinburne university business degree sometimes has a lot of elective space where you could tick off maybe a good amount with the graphic design units you have done. But speak to the student advisor team there and ask about courses with elective space. Maybe don't do a backwlpr of arts because it won't qualify you for much, but you could do a business degree or something else that interests you and transfer some of your progress there. There are options. You have more options than you know 🙂 


It's ok to fall down because of your mental health. It's not your fault. Remember that xxx