Dear Kelly,

I really struggled last semester. I had family and job challenges, and along with that, the classes I was taking were courses that were very involved. I decided I needed to take a break after that, so I took this semester off. Now, I’m trying to get myself motivated, but don’t know if I have what it takes right now to start again. What are your thoughts? Should I try again?

First, thank you for writing. Sometimes, we can talk through a situation or decision so much that after a while, we can’t determine what is the right answer. It sounds to me like you are juggling whether to give yourself another chance or protect yourself from the possibility of failing.

The truth is, earning your degree is a challenge. I don’t think any of us would want a degree that was super simple to earn. You want to grow your knowledge and accomplish something that, at times, you may not have thought possible. But in challenging yourself, you have to come to terms with the fact that from time to time you may not get things completely right. You will have hurdles to face. There will be some that you tackle with diligence and others that seem to take every ounce of strength you have, and you may still come up short.

But that’s OK. It’s OK to not always get it right. It’s OK to fall short and struggle. In those moments, you will learn more about yourself and your abilities than you ever have. It’s in moments of hardship that we learn what we are capable of, what we need to work on, and what we need to learn to grow.

All too often, we try too hard to protect ourselves from difficult or challenging situations, but remember, as an infant, you didn’t just get up one day and start running. You had to learn to stand and learn to take a step, and sometimes you fell. It took practice and determination, tenacity and perseverance.

You have to take a moment and ask yourself, “What do I want?” and “Who do I want to be?” If earning your degree and working in a particular field has been a goal of yours, then do what you need to do to make it a reality. Don’t give up, and don’t back down.

The best part is that as a Mercer University student, you have support. Mercer has so many services to support you along the way. There are amazing free tutoring services through the Academic Resource Center and free counseling services through Counseling and Psychological Services and WellConnect. There’s also the Center for Career and Professional Development to help guide you through finding and working in your dream job.

If you are a working adult student, you have student success coordinators, like me, who are purpose-driven and laser-focused on supporting you throughout your entire program. If you would like to contact a student success coordinator, our numbers are:

Earning a degree is never a walk in the park. There are times where you will doubt if it’s really worth the time, dedication and sacrifice. But if you have a goal, something that you know will propel you and your family, allow you to share your gifts and talents, and let you be the change you want to see in the world, then don’t let anything stop you.

You have a whole university behind you, one that wants to guide and support you as you turn your dreams into reality. We’re here, ready to walk with you, guiding you through difficult times, and cheering you on in all of your successes. You can do this. You have what it takes. How do I know? Because Mercer chose you. We see your potential and how you will change the world. Now, just trust us to help you get there.

As always, I wish you health, happiness, and continued success throughout your phenomenal journey!

Kelly Browning, student success coordinator at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.

Feature photo by Mercer University


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