Academic success is often essential for getting into college and landing a good job, so it’s important for students to do everything they can to stay ahead of the curve.
It’s no secret that students can sometimes fall behind academically. There can be many reasons why this happens, ranging from lack of support at home to struggles with personal responsibilities. If you’re a student who is struggling to keep up, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
In this post, we’ll outline some of the most common reasons students fall behind academically. We hope that by understanding these factors, you’ll be better equipped to get back on track and succeed in your studies. Thanks for reading.
List of reasons why students fall behind academically
As feared, research confirmed that the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sudden switch to online learning, have caused students to fall behind in school.
Unfortunately, ethnic minorities and poverty-stricken communities have suffered the most.
Although some experts propose that intense tutoring and summer school may be beneficial; these measures have a high economic requirement (Dorn et al., 2020).
Here’s a list of reasons why students fall behind in school:
- Lack of interest
- Poor organization and study habits
- Time management issues
- Distractions at home
- Lack of parental support
- Financial issues
- Health problems
- Bullying and social issues
- Personal problems
- School environment
- Limited resources or materials
- Teacher related issues
- Lack of motivation
- Testing anxiety
- Fear of failure
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet
- Language barriers
- Learning disabilities
- Gifted students may be bored
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1. Lack of interest in the subject matter
It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re not interested in what you’re studying. If a student is struggling with a particular subject, it can be difficult to find the enthusiasm to keep up with the work.
2. Poor organization and study habits
One of the most important parts of being successful in school is staying organized and keeping on top of your work.
If a student is falling behind, it’s often because they’re not keeping track of what’s due when, or they’re not studying effectively.
3. Time management issues may affect performance in school
A lot of students have trouble managing their time wisely. This can be for a number of reasons, such as having too many extracurricular activities or a job outside of school.
If a student is constantly struggling to find time to get their work done, they’re likely to fall behind.
4. Distractions at home affect academic performance
It can be hard to focus on schoolwork when there are distractions at home. This could be anything from noisy siblings to having access to television or the internet.
If a student is constantly being pulled away from their work, it’s going to be difficult to make progress.
"Learning is not achieve by chance it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." - Abigail Adams
5. Lack of parental support may cause students to fall behind academically
For many students, having parental support can make a big difference in their academic success.
If parents are not helping with homework or providing encouragement, it can be tough for a student to stay motivated.
For instance, family structure has been shown to affect behavior and success rates in school with broken families reporting worse parental inputs and noncognitive development in boys.
According to a study, boys raised by single mothers had a suspension rate that was 25% higher than girls (Bertrand & Pan; 2013).
6. Financial issues affect academic performance
Unfortunately, money problems can also lead to academic struggles. If a family is struggling to make ends meet, it can be hard for a student to focus on schoolwork.
Additionally, students who are worried about paying for college may have a hard time staying motivated.
7. Health problems cause students to fall behind
Both physical and mental health issues can take a toll on a student’s academics. If a student is dealing with a chronic illness or mental health disorder, it can be hard to keep up with schoolwork.
Additionally, students who are constantly sick or dealing with injuries may fall behind.
8. Bullying and social issues affect academic performance
Unfortunately, bullying is still a big problem in schools. If a student is being harassed, it can be difficult to focus on anything else.
Additionally, students who witness bullying may also struggle academically.
9. Personal problems cause students to fall behind academically
Personal issues can also lead to academic struggles. This could include anything from family problems to relationship troubles.
If a student is dealing with a lot of stress outside of school, it can be hard to focus on their studies.
10. School environment may affect school performance
In some cases, the school environment itself can be a factor in academic struggles. This could include anything from overcrowded classrooms to a lack of resources.
If a student doesn’t feel like they’re able to thrive in their current school, it can be hard to stay motivated.
11. Limited resources or materials affect academic performance
One of the reasons why do students fall behind academically is that they may not have the resources or materials needed to succeed.
For example, a student who cannot afford a computer may have difficulty completing research assignments.
Additionally, a student who does not have access to a quiet place to study may struggle to focus on their work.
12. Teacher-related issues cause students to fall behind in school
Teacher-related issues such as low quality instruction or favoritism can lead to academic struggles.
For example, a student who is not receiving quality instruction may have difficulty understanding the material.
Additionally, a student who feels that their teacher is showing favoritism may become discouraged and fall behind.
13. Lack of motivation affects academic performance
Lastly, a lack of motivation can also lead to academic struggles. A student who does not see the value in their education may have difficulty putting forth the effort needed to succeed.
Additionally, a student who is not interested in the material may also find it difficult to stay motivated.
14. Testing or evaluation anxiety causes students to fall behind academically
Some students may do poorly on tests or other evaluations because of anxiety related to testing.
This can be a result of several factors, such as feeling unprepared or fearing that a bad grade will reflect negatively on their intelligence.
15. Fear of failure affects students academic performance
Many students struggle academically because they are afraid of failing. This fear can lead to a lack of motivation and a unwillingness to take risks.
Plus, students who are afraid of failing may be more likely to give up when they encounter difficulty.
"Academically, I was thick. School wasn't bad, but I was." - Brian Clough
16. Perfectionism causes students to fall behind in school
Some students may have difficulty completing assignments or tasks because they strive for perfection.
This can often lead to frustration and a feeling of hopelessness.
Additionally, perfectionistic tendencies can often lead to procrastination.
17. Lack of sleep affects academic performance
One of the most common reasons why students struggle academically is because they are not getting enough sleep which affects energy, focus and cognition.
This can be a result of several factors, such as late night studying or extracurricular activities.
18. Poor diet affects academic performance
Another common reason for academic struggles is a poor diet. This can include anything from eating too much junk food to not getting enough nutrients.
If a student’s diet is not balanced, it can be difficult to focus and stay energized.
19. Non-native speakers may struggle with the academic language demands
Another group of students that may struggle academically are those who have language challenges with the language of instruction.
This is because they may have difficulty understanding the material due to the language barrier.
Additionally, they may not be familiar with the academic language demands, such as essay writing or presenting an argument.
20. Learning disabilities cause students to fall behind in school
Some students may struggle academically because they have learning disabilities. This can include anything from ADHD to dyslexia.
Students with learning disabilities often need extra support in order to succeed.
21. Gifted students may become bored
Another group of students that may struggle academically are gifted students.
This is because they may become bored with the material if it is not challenging enough.
Plus, gifted students may feel isolated from their peers if they are not being challenged.
22. Low-income may cause academic challenges
Students from low-income families may also struggle academically.
This is because they may not have access to the same resources as their wealthier counterparts.
Further, they may have to work more hours in order to help support their families.
Final words on the main reasons why students fall behind academically
As highlighted, there are a number of reasons why students fall behind, including poor attendance, lack of engagement in class, and difficulty with the material.
Additionally, students may fall behind if they have difficulty paying attention or miss a lot of school. Some students also struggle academically because they have learning disabilities or come from low-income families.
Whatever the reason, falling behind in school can have serious consequences. Students who fall behind are more likely to drop out of high school and have lower incomes as adults.
I hope that by understanding some of the key cognitive and emotional factors at play, you can better support your children and/or students.
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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Bertrand, Marianne, and Jessica Pan. 2013. “The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5 (1): 32-64.
Dorn E, Hancock B, Sarakatsannis J, Viruleg E (2020) The pandemic has set back learning for all students, but especially for students of color. Evidence-based acceleration approaches can help.