Dear Kelly,

I just began my junior year and was told recently that I am going to need surgery soon for an issue I have been having. The recovery period for this surgery is approximately three weeks, and I’m already past the drop/add period. What do I need to do to ensure I won’t fall behind or fail this semester?

First of all, your health should be your first priority because your well-being is your most important asset. So many times people put off surgeries because it’s “not a good time.” If your physician has said that you need a medical procedure and it needs to be done soon, then regardless of anything else, I want to encourage you to listen and adhere to their recommendations.

I’m really happy you asked me this question because this is an issue students face from time to time. Unexpected situations arise, and when you have been so dedicated to doing well in school, you don’t want those circumstances to negatively impact your performance.

To begin with, according to the course catalog, remember that simply not attending class will not constitute a schedule change. You must communicate what is happening and discuss a plan of action.

This is why it is imperative to have a strong relationship with your academic adviser. Think of your academic adviser as an advocate, someone who has your best interests at heart and wants to see you succeed. The more communication you have with them, the more they will know your goals and who you are as a student.

Begin by emailing your adviser, and let them know what is going on. Schedule time to talk with them. You do not have to be specific if you don’t feel comfortable sharing the details, just let them know you are having a health-related issue that is going to require surgery, and your doctor would like to go ahead and schedule that. Your adviser will be able to guide you through the next steps of who may need to be contacted (student financial planning, the registrar, etc.).

Since this seems to be time-sensitive, if you cannot reach your adviser, contact your associate dean. If you are not sure who that is, that information is available on your school or college’s website.

Also, I suggest you contact your professors as soon as possible. By reaching out to them immediately, they may be willing to work with you on assignment due dates and class meetings. Depending on whether your recovery time will allow you to attend classes online, you might be able to stay on track even though you are at home.

As you reach out to the necessary parties, whether that’s your adviser, professors or other support, I encourage you to make those contacts through email. I want you to do this for a couple of reasons. First, you are creating a paper trail for you to refer to if there is ever any issue. Second, and most importantly, by emailing you are documenting who you have spoken with and what was said. When preparing to have a medical procedure, you will have messages from doctors and hospitals, and you may be reaching out to the insurance company while also planning time off from your work. There will be a lot of information you are juggling. During that time, do not count on remembering everything. Using email when you can will help you keep everything in order.

Finally, take care of yourself. There is only one you. Be sure to lean on the people that Mercer has given you because, after all, our number one goal is that you succeed. When Mercer chose you to be a student, we recognized all of your potential. Allow your Mercer support team to guide you through this process, and focus on you, your health and your healing.

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