11 Kids On What It Was Like Being Held Back A Year (And 10 Who Skipped One)

The problem with the school system is that we expect all kids to learn the same way and at the same rate. But that’s clearly not the case! Some children flourish in an academic setting, and ace all of their tests and assignments with barely any effort. Then, there are some kids who work their butts off to grasp the material, but they don’t get the same results. Everyone is different, which is why we shouldn’t expect kids to all succeed at school to the same degree- and there’s nothing wrong with that.

While some kids do well enough in school that they’re allowed to skip a grade, other students don’t perform satisfactorily and are instead asked to repeat a grade. These 21 individuals reveal what it was like repeating or skipping a grade. For the 11 students who were held back, many of them are still haunted by their family’s reaction or how little support they got when they clearly needed it. And, while you may expect the 10 students who skipped a grade to all have positive things to say about it, it clearly wasn’t the best move for everyone.

It doesn’t matter whether you fail or skip a grade- all that matters is how much hard work and effort you’re putting into your schoolwork! As long as you’re doing your best, then you’re doing everything you can.

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21 Held Back: In My Sister’s Shadow

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Marissa* says her parents compared her to her younger sister, who always did better at school. It sounds like the comparisons only got worse when Marissa was held back a grade in school.

My younger sister was always better at everything than me. So when my school said they had to keep me back a year, the fact that my sister always got straight As made it feel even worse.

My parents always asked why I couldn’t be more like her. I think their real question was where they went wrong- how they could have one daughter who was so smart and another one who wasn’t? I still don’t have an answer for them.

20 Skipped: "Pumpkin Eater"

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Marshall* admits he didn’t deserve to skip a grade- he had actually cheated, which meant his grades were better than they were supposed to be.

I skipped from grade 7 to 9. And to this day I feel so guilty about it. I really didn’t deserve to skip a grade because most of grade 7 I spent cheating.

My parents had threatened to take away my video games the year before if my grades weren’t better, so I mastered the art of cheating to make sure that would never happen.

I got such good grades, they thought the material was too easy for me. So I went straight to high school.”

19 Held Back: Quick To Blame The Boyfriend

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Linda* says that her parents blamed her relationship with her boyfriend when she flunked a grade, which she admits led to even more conflict between her and her parents.

When I got held back a year in high school, my parents were convinced it was my boyfriend’s fault (even though it wasn’t).

They forbade us from seeing each other, which was absolutely devastating to me and didn’t help me improve my grades the next year. I became focused on sneaking around to meet him, instead of on schoolwork.”

Do you think Linda’s parents reacted fairly, or were they too quick to jump to conclusions?

18 Skipped: Going On An Ego Trip

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Kristina* admits that skipping a grade gave her an ego trip. She started neglecting her schoolwork and having a lazy attitude towards class, which hurt her when it came time to submit college applications.

I got way too overconfident when I skipped 10thgrade straight into the 11th. I thought I could get away with not studying and sometimes not even going to class, and still get into a good University.

But eventually, my poor attitude was reflected in my grades and teachers didn’t want to give me good reference letters. I literally had to beg to do extra credit work to bring my average up.”

17 Held Back: My Husband Doesn’t Even Know

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Alicia* admits being held back is one of her greatest insecurities. So much so, she says that she’s never even told her husband about it.

I was held back in grade 12 because I flunked two of my core classes. It was over a decade ago, but I’m still so insecure about it. I’ve never even told my husband about it.

I’ve worked so hard to prove I’m not the person I was back then, and I’m actually hard working and smart. But I’ve come to realize that I’m not trying to prove myself to other people, I’m just trying to prove something to myself.”

16 Skipped: Twinning With My Sister

Rosanna* says she was elated when she was allowed to skip a grade because she wound up in the same class as her big sister. She says it made getting through high school a lot easier.

I was so happy when I skipped a grade in elementary school because it meant I got to be in the same class as my sister. We’re only 18 months apart, so we act more like twins than regular sisters.

It made the rest of elementary school and especially high school so much easier having her by my side. That basically made us feel like real twins!

15 Held Back: Learning Doesn’t Always Come Easy

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Darcy* is still upset that her parents didn’t consider she may have a learning disability when she flunked the 6thgrade.

Instead of looking into why I failed the 6thgrade, my family was instead so focused on keeping it a huge secret. Couldn’t have the news of their precious little girl failing a grade getting out.

If they’d actually gotten me help, they would have found out I had a learning disability, which explains why I couldn’t get my homework. All I needed was some extra help and I would have been fine. But I had to wait until adulthood to actually get diagnosed because my parents were so consumed with themselves.”

14 Skipped: An International Reward

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Marisol* says she skipped a grade purely because she saw her sister get rewarded for doing it before her.

My older sister skipped a grade and as a reward, my mom took her on a vacation to Hawaii, just the two of them. I was so jealous that I was determined to skip a grade so they’d take me somewhere, too.

Finally, my teachers said I could go from grade 6 to 8. My parents were so surprised because they weren’t expecting it from me. At first, they said we could go on a family trip altogether to celebrate until I put up such a fuss my mom had no choice but to go just the two of us together.

13 Held Back: They Completely Overreacted

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Debbie* says her parents almost kicked her out when they learned she was being held back!

I come from a traditional Chinese family. It’s expected that you’ll perform well in school, get a good job, and support the family. If you don’t, then your parents consider you a failure.

So, when I failed a grade in high school, my parents almost lost it. They seriously considered sending me to live with my Aunt because they didn’t think they were being strict enough with me. But really their strictness is what made me rebel and not focus on school in the first place.”

12 Skipped: A Teacher To Remember

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Jenna* says that the only reason she skipped a grade and managed to get into a good college was because of an amazing teacher who recognized her potential.

I’ve always had a bad relationship with my parents, so having a parental role model for me was so important growing up. I found that in a teacher who recognized I had a knack for academia.

She started mentoring me and encouraging me to do my best to go to a good university. She was the reason I ended up skipping right into grade 12 and graduating early (which meant I could move away from home sooner).

11 Held Back: Teach Them Some Values

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Aiden* says that he was bullied by his classmates when the news spread that he’d have to re-take Grade 9. But what he’s really mad about is that no teacher stepped in to intervene.

I went to a really small school, so when I got held back in ninth grade, everyone knew about it. Some of the kids in my class started calling me names and spreading rumors about why I was ‘so dumb’ (they didn’t know I have a learning disability).

But the worst thing about it was the teachers would do literally nothing. These kids could say what they wanted to say right in front of them, and the teachers would ignore it like it never happened. That’s what hurts the most.”

10 Skipped: Bigger And Better Expectations

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Nathan* admits he feels like everything changed when he skipped a grade, as people suddenly had different expectations for him. He says he wishes everything had stayed as it had before he skipped.

What I hated about moving up a grade was that everyone suddenly had higher expectations of me.

My parents were convinced I was going to get the best job out of my brothers and go to the best college. My teachers all expected me to be some brainiacs, and my friends expected help on their homework.

I just wanted people to treat me how they had before.”

9 Held Back: I’m Not My Brother

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Brea* is still upset over the fact that her parents wouldn’t stop comparing her to her older brother when she was held back a grade.

My big brother dropped out of school before 12thgrade, so my parents were extra worried I wouldn’t do well in school. I have a learning disability, so academics don’t come naturally. I flunked so many classes in 10thgrade, the teachers actually held me back a year.

But my parents believed it was because I was lazy, not my learning difficulties. The next few years, they wouldn’t stop telling me who I was turning out just like my brother. They didn’t stop until I actually graduated from college.

8 Skipped: College Came Too Soon

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Simon* says that skipping a grade in high school wasn’t a benefit when he went to University because he didn’t feel emotionally ready for such a big change.

Everyone thinks that I’m proud of skipping a grade. But I actually think it messed everything up for me. I ended up moving away to school early because of it, but I wasn’t ready to be on my own.

My first year I struggled to cope emotionally and ended up failing all my college classes. I took the next year off to figure out what I wanted before going back.”

7 Held Back: You Can’t Just Skip School

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Andrew* says he got a major surprise when his school revealed he’d skipped so many days that he wasn’t going to graduate middle school.

I was really rebellious and stupid in middle school. I thought I was cool enough to get away with skipping class on a daily basis.

But I sure got a reality check when I got my final report card and they said I’d have to be held back because I missed so many days. My parents didn’t even realize what I was doing until that moment.

As bad as it was, though, being held back really was the reason I got my act together.”

6 Skipped: Not Making The Parents Proud

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Avianna* admits her parents had a less-than-happy reaction when she shared with them that she was skipping a grade, which she totally didn’t expect.

I had a really calamitous home life. So I put all of my energy and focus into my schoolwork from a young age. I ended up skipping 11thgrade, which was going to look amazing for college.

I thought this was something my parents would finally be proud of. But their reaction was anything but. My mom actually got mad because this meant they had less time to figure out how they were going to finance college. They were actually mad at me!

5 Held Back: The Embarrassment Of My Family

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Jackie* admits her parents didn’t hide their disappointment or shame when she revealed to them she’d have to repeat the year. She’s still haunted by how poorly they handled the whole situation.

I could feel how ashamed my parents were when I got held back a grade. It makes me so mad even now thinking about how they handled it.

They had a huge conversation with me and my siblings about how we weren’t going to tell the extended family since they’d be disappointed in us. I don’t even think they told my Grandparents. I never felt more worthless or like an embarrassment to my family.”

4 Skipped: Friends Don’t Just Come And Go

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Even though her parents were elated that she was smart enough to skip a grade, Larsa* admits it was a horrible thing to happen to her, since it meant she’d have to say goodbye to her close friends. She admits never found friends like that in her new class.

My parents were so proud when my school told them I could skip a grade, but I didn’t know how to tell them I wasn’t happy. It meant I’d be leaving all of my friends behind to join a new class.

I never felt so alone or intimidate before. I never made friends like I did in my old class, not until after high school.”

3 Held Back: Don’t Give Up On Me

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Livy* says she feels like her friends and family gave up on her after she was held back. She reveals it would have been helpful had they been supportive, rather than make her feel even worse.

I failed the 11thgrade and was so mortified. I’d always been bad at school and at that point kind of gave up because of how bad I did.

But when I failed, I think my parents realized I’d never go to college or be the child they wanted me to be.

I wish my parents and friends were more supportive. Instead, I could feel how disappointed everyone was. It felt like they gave up on me after that.”

2 Skipped: I Realized My Potential

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Shauna* says that skipping a grade motivated her for the future- so much so, that she worked hard enough to land a fully-paid scholarship to an elite University. Now, it sounds like she’s living her best life!

Skipping a grade was so good for me because it really made me see what I’m capable of. I recognized I had a gift for school, and actually started properly applying myself afterwards. I worked hard enough to get a full-ride scholarship, which was the only way I could have afforded college.”

It’s such an amazing feeling when something inspires us to work even harder and achieve greater!

1 Held Back: Divorce Messes With A Kid

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Shelby* admits that her parents’ divorce caused her to have trouble focusing in school, which actually led to her being held back. This was a huge shock, considering she’d always been a straight-A student before that.

“I actually failed 7thgrade and had to repeat it. Before that, I was a straight A, well-behaved student. So it was weird that none of my teachers asked what was going on with me.

If they had, I would have told them how bad my parent’s divorce and custody battle was. I was convinced both of them hated me and that my life was going to suck forever.

*Names have been changed

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