First Year at Mercer
Mercer wants every student enrolled at the University to succeed, to thrive both academically and personally. And, because Mercer recognizes that the first year of university life is one of significant transition, it provides new students with a comprehensive program designed to serve as a solid foundation for academic success and personal growth.
The First Step
Students begin their academic transition to Mercer by submitting their Mercer Academic Profile (MAP) in late spring of their senior year. The MAP helps the Office of Academic and Advising Services prepare for students' arrival on campus by learning more about their academic background, intended major, and academic interests for the future. An academic advisor reviews each profile to build a fall course schedule.
Summer Orientation and the Initial Advising Appointment
During the summer, Mercer hosts several one-day orientation sessions for incoming first-year students and their families. During Summer Orientation, students meet with an academic advisor and review their fall course schedule. Students also interact with current Mercer students and other members of the incoming class, tour the campus, and meet with representatives from various campus departments to learn more about their programs and services. Those who are unable to attend Summer Orientation receive information electronically in July.
Opening Day and Bear Beginnings
Mercer's Opening Day is an important day for all first-year students, as this is when residential students move into their residence halls and commuter students attend the Commuter Student Program. The students' Bear Beginnings fall orientation program begins the evening of Opening Day, and is designed to help students transition both academically and socially to life at Mercer. Students experience the program alongside their Peer Advisor (PA), orientation group (O-Group) of fellow first-year students, and academic advisor.
UNV 101 Classroom Experience
Students remain connected with their PA, O-Group, and academic advisor on a weekly basis through the University 101 (UNV 101) fall semester classroom experience. This 16-week, 1-credit hour course fulfills a graduation requirement for all students while discussing important topics such as successful study skills, cultural diversity, critical thinking, ethics, personal relationships, health, safety, and career development.
Academic Programs throughout the Year
The Office of Academic and Advising Services coordinates programs to enhance the new student academic transition. Programs include a fall semester workshop series known as "First-Year Fridays," a fall semester "Majors in Minutes" majors fair, and other spring semester events to continue academic progress through the successful completion of their first year at Mercer. First-year students earning a 3.5 GPA or higher in their first or second semester at Mercer will be invited to join the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society during the fall semester of their sophomore year.
Ongoing Academic Support
The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides a variety of student support services, such as tutoring and study skills assistance. Supplemental instruction, another ARC resource, utilizes upperclass students who have already taken specific courses to assist current students in outside-of-class instruction. Students should also seek assistance from faculty members who are instructing their classes.
Students who have a challenging fall semester should consider enrolling in the 1-credit hour UNV 102: Academic and Vocational Design course during the spring semester to focus on:
- academic exploration— identifying strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.
- major exploration—what academic programs will help meet vocational goals.
- self-discovery—recognizing purpose and passions in the classroom and otherwise.
- motivation—both in personal life and academically.
- critical thinking and decision making—exploring alternative solutions to help reach personal and academic goals!
Faculty members have the opportunity to offer insight into students’ academic progress by communicating with students through the Starfish portal in MyMercer. The Office of Academic and Advising Services coordinates Four-Week Progress Reports for all new students, as well as Midterm Progress Reports for students who are experiencing academic difficulty in a course. Academic advisors review progress reports with students to provide feedback and additional support in their academic transition to Mercer.
If students experienced academic diffculty in their first semester, they are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor during the first week of the spring semester for additional support. Together, students and advisors can complete an Academic Improvement Plan>> and adjust their spring schedule to promote continued academic success with a managable courseload and intentional time for studying and success.
The Advising Process
Prior to registration each semester, students make appointments to meet with their academic advisors. Students also utilize the Office of Academic and Advising Services for additional advising and registration assistance. After advising, students use their online MyMercer portal to register for courses.
Declaring a Major
Students officially declare a major and minor by completing a Major/Specialization/Minor Declaration Form>> with the Office of the Registrar. Students then speak with the Department Chairperson who oversees their new program to be assigned an academic advisor to advise them throughout the remainder of their coursework.
Communication with First-Year Students and Families
The Office of Academic and Advising Services is just a phone call away, serving as a support to both students and families in their transition to Mercer. Additionally, the First-Year Student and Family E-mail ListServs also keep students and families updated on academic programs and important dates for first-year students. Specific information about academic and/or financial information may be released to parents or guardians with the students' written consent via the Student Records Release Authorization.
Campus Life and Community
Student life is a vital part of the college experience. When co-curricular activities, programs, and organizations are tied closely to a student's academic experience, the impact on the student's learning can be profound. The Division of Student Affairs provides a majority of these co-curricular programs, and includes the following departments: Housing and Residence Life, Counseling and Psychological Services, Recreational Sports and Wellness, TRIO programs, Access and Accommodations, Judicial Services, Campus Life, the Center for Career and Professional Development, and Greek Life.