OK, maybe fail is a bit strong, but through my university life I saw too many people under-achieve because of things that could have been avoided.
While I'm not going to provide you with a magic formula to help you succeed, by avoiding falling into the traps of too many other students you can at least try not to be an under-achiever. Here, with some amount of sarcasm, are my five observations from my time spent at University.
Make sure it's not your picture next to THAT definition.
1) "But, I don't understand how I missed that. I attended all the lectures!" - Sometimes turning up to lectures is not enough. You also have to stay awake during them, bring a pen and paper, not spend all your time playing Angry Birds on your phone, and make an effort to follow up the lectures by actually reading the pieces that have been recommended to you by the lecturer.
Staying awake is always a way to ensure you are listening
2) "But I don't understand why I haven't learnt anything. I bought all the textbooks!" - Gosh, and don't they look pretty, in perfect mint condition on your bookshelf? What you actually need to do now you own (or have borrowed) those magical, mystical objects of knowledge is to open them at the page which contains the information you have to learn, and start reading. And take notes. And read it again. And try and remember it. That is actual learning.
3) "But I don't understand how I was late handing in that essay. I had the same amount of time as everyone else!" - Yes, you did. But they probably set aside some time in their schedule to actually do some reading, and some writing. They probably remembered about their meetings with their tutors to discuss said essay, and kept an eye on the calendar to make sure they were doing enough to meet the deadline date. See our tips on meeting deadlines if you want more help.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by deadlines.
4) "But I don't understand why those questions came up on that exam. I'm sure we didn't cover that in the lecture." - Apart from the fact you're falling asleep or not paying attention in the associated lectures, you can have a good stab at predicting what is going to come up in an exam. Check over the themes you covered in the module and the reading you were given, including seminars as well as lectures. Eliminate what has been tested in other ways for example in essays, or mid-terms. Whatever is left is fair game for the exam, I would say. It's not a completely foolproof method, but it worked for me. Mostly.
Face Palm - the classic reaction
5) "But I don't understand how I didn't know how and when we were going to be assessed. How do you know these things?" - What I do, dear colleagues, is when we are given the module handbook at the beginning of the term, is to read it, take notes of important assessments with associated dates, and write them down somewhere. I keep the module handbook somewhere safe, and try not to lose it. Please don't come to me toward the end of the term and ask to 'borrow' mine as refusal will offend.
So, there you go. Distractions are everywhere at university, and are there to be enjoyed, but take your eye off the academic ball at your peril. Competition for graduate positions is more fierce than ever before. Don't set yourself up for mediocrity. Mediocre might not cut it once you're released into the big, bad world.