New to online classes? These tips will help | Ask Kelly

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Dear Kelly,

I’m just starting back to school in a couple of weeks. It’s been years since I have been in college, and I’ve never taken online courses. I’m excited but nervous. Do you have any advice for me?

Uncharted territory can be frightening, especially when you want to navigate it proficiently but are unsure what’s going to be expected. Online classes, honestly, are nothing to fear. The truth of the matter is, your performance really depends on your determination to succeed.

Online classes, in my opinion, are just as engaging as face-to-face classes. All of your coursework, discussions, announcements, lecture notes and quizzes will be found on the Canvas portal. If your class meets each week virtually, you will do this through the Zoom platform. Your professor will generally email a link to you before class that you will click on to gain access.

Once you are in your class, it will look a lot like the in-person, on-campus classes you are used to. You will see your professor and each of your classmates. Just like in face-to-face classes, your professor will give lectures, or they might share a PowerPoint presentation and may even send you to breakout rooms, which basically means you will be sent to a separate, virtual room with select students. You will have group discussions and share ideas.

Furthermore, most professors will stay around after class in case you have questions or concerns that you need to discuss with them. In an online class, you have, basically, the same access to your professor as you would if you were seeing them in-person.

If you are concerned about how to log on to Zoom or how to access your coursework, you can visit any of Mercer University’s campuses and ask for help. Each campus has coordinators and student ambassadors who are always ready and willing to help guide you through your Canvas portal.

In addition, if for some reason you experience technical difficulties, Mercer offers 24-hour support. I would advise saving the Information Technology contact page just in case you ever need it.

The following links may also benefit you as you navigate through the semester:

Truthfully, a key to succeeding in online classes is through developing excellent time-management skills and learning to be your own best advocate. Be an active and engaged participant in your class discussions. If you are unsure about something that was taught, contact your professor and let them know you don’t understand.

Reach out to the Academic Resource Center if you need additional assistance or tutoring in writing, math or science. Develop a schedule for how and when you will complete assignments, quizzes and discussions. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete coursework. Give yourself plenty of time, and do your best.

While online classes may be something that you aren’t familiar with, the skills you will gain by maneuvering through online learning will help you in your future endeavors. Technology has been woven into just about every career field, and learning to navigate your way through it and become comfortable with it will benefit you in any career you choose.

Just remember to have faith in yourself, your abilities and what you can accomplish. You can do this!

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

Every other week, Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador 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.


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