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Can You Repeat High School

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Friday, 06 January 2023. Posted in Helpful Tips

Teenage girl looking at notebook

Not passing your classes, and wondering what you can do about it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are students all over that are trying to make up their high school classes for one reason or another. Whether it was due to medical leave, absences, non-passing grades, or something else entirely, know that there are options out there for you to get back on track. Whether you’re earning a high school diploma as an adult student or a student of traditional age, discover your options for repeating high school, recovering credits, and everything in between.

Can you repeat a grade in high school?

You may have encountered a situation that left you not feeling confident about moving on to the next level in your education. Deciding to repeat a grade or not can be a very difficult, yet mature, decision.

However, there are also ways for you to earn credits for your classes without having to redo your entire school year. Credit recovery can help you do just that.

What is credit recovery?

If you’ve failed a few classes but want to continue on to your next school year, credit recovery is a way for you to make up those missing credits. A major benefit of credit recovery is that you can avoid delaying your graduation if you successfully recover your credits in time.

There are two different ways you can recover credits:

  1. Summer School.
    This is the most common form of credit recovery that most people know about. With summer school, you will need to attend in-person classes during specific dates. Depending on which schools in your area offer summer school, you may need to travel to a different school district as well. If you’re someone that needs an extra push to do your work, the structure of summer school may benefit you.
  2. Online credit recovery.
    If summer school isn’t for you, you might want to consider online credit recovery. Since classes are online, online credit recovery can be really useful if transportation may be difficult. Because many of these types of classes are self-paced, it can definitely be a huge help if the times and dates for summer school don’t fit in with your schedule.

If online credit recovery seems like something you may be interested in, James Madison High School offers accredited credit recovery classes, all online. James Madison High School is nationally accredited by Cognia and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

However, if you’ find that you have difficulty self-motivating, online credit recovery may not be the best fit for accomplishing your goal.

Do colleges care if you repeat a grade or take a year off in high school?

For the most part, colleges don’t mind if you repeat a grade or have to take a year off in high school, but the answer could depend on the colleges you’re interested in.

For more competitive colleges, the admissions team is going to be stricter about who they let attend their school and may have different standards. If your college of interest requires an entrance essay, you can use this as a chance to explain your circumstances and even show how you’ve overcome your obstacles in order to succeed. In this instance, you may even be able to turn your delay in graduation into a strength.

In addition to an entrance essay, you can also show your merit with volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and even letters of recommendation. To fully understand what your intended college (or colleges) may be looking for, reaching out to a member of the admissions team is going to be your best option.

Pros and cons of repeating a grade in high school

If you're wondering if repeating a grade in high school is right for you, here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • A better understanding of your lessons.
    You may not have understood what you were learning the first time around, and that’s okay. Repeating a grade gives you a second chance, and some more time, to fully grasp your lessons.
  • Maintain a high GPA.
    Keeping your old grades as they were may not reflect your peak ability. If you decide to repeat a grade, you have the chance to keep your grades up and show off your true colors to colleges or employers who may be interested in your GPA.
  • A sense of satisfaction from your growing mastery.
    Few things feel better than knowing that you’re improving and doing better than before. As your understanding of your lessons grows, your confidence truly will as well!


  • Boredom from repeating easy material.
    If you choose to repeat a grade, you may encounter that you have a few courses that are a little too easy. This might result in you becoming disengaged and not taking your class seriously due to boredom.
  • Your graduation may be delayed.
    Depending on how you feel, your graduation being delayed may be a big con for you. Repeating a grade usually means that your graduation is set back by an entire year. This may also mean not being able to participate in a ceremony with friends that are the same age as you.
  • Increases likelihood of dropping out.
    When some students repeat a grade, they may become frustrated with school for a variety of reasons, including the other cons mentioned above. While students held back in lower grades levels are likely to earn their high school diploma, high school students that repeat a year have an increased likelihood of not completing high school. If you’re debating how important a high school diploma is, you’ll want to think carefully about your options.

Can you repeat high school? 

While the answer is technically yes, there are other options that may be better. Although repeating high school may not be possible in traditional high school settings, it is possible to start over with some online high schools.

Choosing to repeat high school means that you would be starting over from the beginning. Don’t worry—if your grades are not exactly where you want them to be by the time you graduate, there are still ways that you can move forward instead of backward.

Instead of repeating high school, try one of these options:

  • Community College. If you feel like your grades might be holding you back from going on to college, a community college might be a good fit for you. Whether you’re just looking to earn some credits, earn an associate degree, or begin your journey toward a bachelor’s degree, a community college might be a good fit for you. Many community colleges are less competitive than 4-year universities and may be a lot more lenient on your GPA. This is your time to start over fresh with your new college GPA and gain some knowledge toward your intended career path. Once you’ve earned some credits, you may even be eligible to transfer into another college or university and continue pursuing your education.
  • Online Degree Program. Another option great option to further your education is to look into online degree programs. Many online degree programs only require that you’ve finished high school or its equivalency (like the GED), so you may not even need to show your high school GPA. With an online degree program, you can earn an undergraduate certificate, an associate degree, or even complete your bachelor’s degree. Many online degree programs are also self-paced, so you can work from the comfort of your own home around your busy schedule.
    JMHS’s parent institution, Ashworth College, is just one place of many where you can pursue your degree online.
  • Certification Program. You may not want, or even need, to earn a college degree for your intended career, and that’s okay. Another great alternative is certification programs. You can check in your area to see what certification programs are offered (you might even find some in colleges around you!), or you can search online for certifications that might be a good fit. Earning a certification can show employers that you are knowledgeable about a particular skill that will provide value to the career you’re interested in. Just remember, you’ll want to search for certifications that are relevant to your job interests.

Which option is best for you?

While you’re the only one that can truly make this decision, it’s important to figure out what you want to accomplish, what you need to do to accomplish that goal, and how you’re going to get there. Whether you choose to repeat a grade, recover missing credits, or move forward with your education is entirely up to you. For many of these options, JMHS can help you meet your goals. Enroll online or contact an Admissions Specialist today at ... today and put your success within reach.

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.