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The Why, What, Where and How of Asking for Help

 By: Maggie Veneman

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.

             - Marie Curie

 Why online students don’t seek help often:

  • Students may assume that an online course is going to be quite similar to an on-campus course. They underestimate the amount of dedication and self-regulation required to succeed.
  • At the start of the semester, not all students think that they are going to need help later on, so they don’t bother to look for resources.
  • Students don’t always know what resources are available to them.
  • Some students are shy or insecure, or simply think that they should be able to do everything on their own, and have trouble asking for help.

Why online students should seek help:

  • Prevent academic difficulties at crunch times. Seeking support early in the term will ensure that you have someone to turn to if you run into an obstacle.
  • Feel confident in your knowledge of available resources. Make an effort to find out what help is available to you as an online student, and utilize those resources when necessary.
  • Feel more connected to the university community.
  • Build professional relationships with your professors, academic advisors, admin staff, and fellow students.

 Where to seek help:

How to ask for help:

  • Know how to communicate with your instructors. Explore the Do's, Don't's of Interacting With Online Course Instructors
  • Know how to communicate with people outside of the academic sphere; family, significant others, and colleagues can be excellent resources if you take the initiative to approach them.
  • Informing is as important as asking. If you talk to others about your program, they may share resources with you that you didn’t even know existed.

Once you become a student, you will experience exciting challenges, new learning opportunities, and the rewarding feeling of moving forward in your life goals. You will also experience unforeseen obstacles and increased stress. That’s why becoming informed about what learning, personal, and financial resources are available to you as a student is so me


Support for Families

If your child, partner, or parent is a full time student, you know firsthand the balancing act that they perform as both a student and a member of the family. Their priorities are constantly in flux, usually depending on the time of year (you likely see less of them around exam time). Want to alleviate some of their stress and become more informed? Check out the resources below.

Queen’s resources for parents & families:

Student Affairs list of support services

Survival tips for spouses of students

Impact of parents on student success

Families: An Essential Ingredient for Student Success

Tech Support

Visit OnQ Support for step-by-step instructions on everything related to OnQ, including:

  • Accessing your course
  • Setting up email notifications
  • Accessing and viewing content
  • Downloading content
  • Using chat
  • Posting to discussions
  • Submitting assignments

Queen’s ITS has some great resources as well:

  • Net ID
  • Microsoft Office
  • Learning resources
  • Multimedia
  • Security

Did you know that as a student at Queen’s, you get Microsoft Office 365 for free? This includes Office (Word, Excel etc.), Outlook email and calendar, a 10 GB Document Library, Microsoft Planner, Skype for Business and more. Take advantage of these programs while pursuing your studies.

Backing Up Files

backup files


Don't underestimate the importance of backing up your files! You'll be grateful that you did if your computer crashes.


Studying for exams is probably the most daunting part of being a student. Luckily Queen’s Student Academic Success Services has an entire module on exam prep!

See below for their quick tips:

1. Separate your initial learning (when you focus on increasing your understanding of material) from your studying (when you improve your memory of what you know).

2. Start preparing early, or start now.

3. Be informed about the exam: topics to cover, percentage or value of test or exam, format, length, location, aids permitted

4. Be strategic in studying:

  • Identify key topics. Focus on material you don’t know
  • Set targets and dates for completion

5. Select, organize and review key material:

  • Organize material to distinguish between main topics, sub-topics, and details. Look for relationships, connections or patterns
  • Summarize it using charts, tables, mind maps or webs, quantitative concept summaries, or annotated notes depending on the type of material
  • Review, aka study, to build your memory

6. Make a study plan, based on number of hours you think you’ll need:

  • 3 hour blocks (with a 10 minute break every hour) work well, followed by long break (1.5-2 hours) and do it again – – 9 hours max. a day!!
  • Distribute study hours across several days, studying 2 or 3 courses a day

7. Match your depth of study with the test format, and then “teach” someone else:

  • Multiple choice tests can tap details, plus understanding connections and concepts
  • Essay exams can analyze themes, patterns, your interpretations
  • Quantitative problem solving exams assess conceptual understanding, plus fast and accurate computations

8. Write a practice exam, under the same conditions (duration, exam aids):

  • Make up your own questions, based on learning objectives of the course
  • Use old exams and assignments, review questions from the text

9. Be strategic in writing the exam:

  • Take home exams require evidence and evaluation, not just description of facts
  • Answer questions you know first, to maximize grades and gain confidence
  • Include your essay outline, or diagrams in problem solving exams, for part marks

10. Use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body, and permit clear thinking.