Keep Learning

There are many things that can happen in any given semester that require a university to make a shift in how courses and support are provided to students. Marymount cares about you as a member of our student community, and we’ve developed this page so we can help you be your best academic self while navigating this transition to online learning and support. We’re here for you.

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The virtual front desk will be offline during winter break, but will return in the spring semester!


De-stress During Final Exams

By Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

We are at the Finish Line! This week can be one of the most stressful and challenging weeks of the semester, so I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make some time for de-stressing between study sessions and paper-writing. Try one of these ideas to reduce stress, which might in turn help you perform better when taking your exams!

  • Take 5 minutes for self-care – Even if you are busy this week, taking a few minutes for yourself will help you feel mentally-refreshed between study sessions. Self-care can be many different things, but here are a few ideas: doing your skin-care routine, sleeping, doing yoga or meditation, reorganizing a part of your room, making yourself a nice meal, talking with a friend or family member, or anything that re-energizes you!
  • Study efficiently using study groups and study tips – I find it helpful during finals to create study groups with members of my classes so that others can help me with the information I don’t know, and I can teach people the information I do know to strengthen my understanding. The Keep Learning page has tips on how to study (see my previous post “Tips for Success at the End of the Semester”), and now is the time to apply those tools and tips.
  • Take walks in nature – Try to find a new trail, walk your dog, or take a hike to de-stress during finals week. It is a good way to clear your mind of the many thoughts and fears that this week carries. Try to stay relaxed and calm throughout your journey through nature. Taking a break from studying can help the information sink in, which will help you when you go to take your next final.
  • Take a 20-minute yoga break – Yoga is an amazing tool to help you de-stress. Take 20 minutes out of your busy schedule to try some new stretches and yoga moves. Here is a link to a 20 minute full body stress relief yoga video, suitable for both beginners and those experienced with yoga.

Tips for Success at the End of the Semester

By Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

We’ve almost made it to finals week! I know that it can be hard to concentrate on final papers and exams when summer is so close. Here are some tips for success in a remote-learning environment as you make one final push to the end of the semester.

Take advantage of ways to study with others virtually. Create a study group with classmates on a group messaging app like GroupMe. Attend study sessions or office hours hosted by your professors. Sign up for a peer tutoring or writing consultation Zoom appointment (if you’re not sure how, here’s a guide!).

Manage your time and spread out your work. Instead of cramming the day before an exam, it’s more effective to spend a set amount of time studying each day for the weeks leading up to your finals. Start now and stick to your schedule to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed later.

Take breaks. You learn more effectively when you are relaxed and not studying/writing for hours at a time. Implement breaks in your schedule so it’s easier to concentrate and do better on your assignments. Try out the Pomodoro Technique, where you alternate between 25-minutes of work and 5-minutes of break, with a longer break after every four sessions. (Here’s an easy-to-use timer).

Take one last look at your syllabus. It’s always worth checking your syllabus to make sure you know what all of the remaining assignments are, you know when/how the final exam is taking place, and you understand the grading system for the course.

Know what to expect on your exam. Check your syllabus, class notes, and course Canvas page for any information you can find about the exam’s format and length. Make sure you’ve downloaded any testing tools or programs that will be needed for the exam. Know how much time you have to complete the test once you begin, and determine how much time you can spend on each question while still finishing in time.

Eliminate distractions when taking exams. Treat online exams the same way you would treat an in-person exam, by following these steps before starting:

  • Find a quiet place to take your exam.
  • Let others in your household know you’re taking an exam so they won’t interrupt you.
  • Gather all relevant materials, supplies, and a glass of water before you begin.
  • Sit at a desk or table rather than on a bed or couch if possible.
  • Turn your phone off or silence notifications so you don’t receive any distractions.

Article: Online education in the post-COVID era

Shared by Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

I hope everyone is doing well this semester through hybrid or virtual learning. I wanted to share this article titled “Online education in the post-COVID era,” which highlights how COVID-19 has affected in-person learning, and predicts how teaching and learning at colleges may continue to change long-term after COVID vaccinations are more widespread.

TED Talk: Bring on the learning revolution

Shared by Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

In this TED Talk, speaker Sir Ken Robinson speaks about the potential for technology and virtual learning to help us shift from a standardized education model to a more customized, personalized learning model. These technologies plus the talent of educators and the enthusiasm of students provide opportunity for a learning revolution. Here is a link to this TED Talk.

Marymount Zoom Backgrounds

By Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

If you are like me, you may not always like turning on your camera in Zoom because your background might be viewed as distracting. Here are some Marymount Zoom Backgrounds that will change that! These backgrounds will give you a put-together, professional look in class, meetings, and interviews over Zoom. I hope to see you in class showing your school spirit with these Zoom backgrounds! 

If you would like to share a photograph of Marymount’s campus or another MU-themed image that you think would make a good Zoom background, feel free to send it to

Here’s a quick guide on how to add a Zoom background:

  1. Click on the picture below that you would like to use. Then right click on the enlarged image and select “Save image as…” to save it to your computer.
  2. Log into the Portal and click “Zoom” under the “Sign On Links” menu.
  3. Click on “Settings” and then “In Meeting (Advanced),” then scroll down until you see the “Virtual background” section.
  4. Click “Manage virtual background” and drag and drop the image file into the pop-up that appears. Then click “Done.”
  5. Make sure the box that says “Allow use of videos for virtual backgrounds” is checked.
  6. Now, the next time you are in a Zoom meeting, you can click the little ^ arrow next to the “Start Video / Stop Video” button, select “Choose Virtual Background,” and select the image you would like to use. 

Main House Zoom Background   Ballston Center Zoom Background

Lodge Zoom Background   Lee Center Zoom Background

Chapel Zoom Background   Caruthers Zoom Background

MU Logos Zoom Background


How to Plan a Mini Spring Break for Yourself

By Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

Midterms are over, yay! After so much hard work and studying, it’s important to take some time to de-stress. Making time to take care of yourself is especially important right now since MU students don’t have a spring break this year due to COVID. Even without a traditional week-long spring break, you can still unwind by taking an afternoon or a full day to have fun, take a study break, and relax. Here are some ideas you could incorporate into your “mini spring break” experience:

Listen to Music: Listening to music is a great way to de-stress, whether you are getting energized by finding new artists or relaxing with your old favorites. If the weather is nice, try finding a place outside to sit, enjoy the springtime, and listen to music. Here is a playlist I found on Spotify with songs that are very soothing and can just clear your mind. These songs could easily be combined with yoga or breathing exercises as well.

Exercise: Even if you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym right now, there are lots of free at-home workouts available on YouTube that can help boost your mood and clear your mind from stress. Personally, my favorite type of workout is H.I.I.T. (high-intensity interval training). Check out this 30-minute full body H.I.I.T workout. For a less strenuous option, you could take a walk around campus or around your neighborhood at home.

Watch Movies: You’ve worked hard over midterms season, and you deserve some guilt-free movie-watching time. With all the different streaming services out there such as Disney +, Netflix, Hulu, etc. there are so many options that it’s sometimes hard to pick something. I like to de-stress by watching a favorite movie from childhood or whatever new release is currently the most popular on streaming. I’m sure you will find something you will enjoy!

Self Care: I am all about self care, especially when recovering from a stressful time in the semester. Self care can be many different things such as: doing your skin-care routine, sleeping, doing yoga or mediation, getting yourself organized for the week ahead, making yourself a nice meal, talking with a friend or family member, etc. Here is a link to 27 different 5-minute self-care ideas. I hope you will try one out!

Online Learning Myths vs. Truths

By Lauryn Coleman, Class of 2022

As Marymount students have navigated through this pandemic, we have had to adjust to learning in hybrid or fully online environments. Covid-19 has changed a lot within the classroom, but there are some things that haven’t changed about taking and succeeding in your classes at MU. Sometimes we may tell ourselves generalizations about online learning that aren’t always accurate. I’d like to share a few of the online learning myths I’ve come across, along with the truth based on my experience learning remotely these past few semesters.

Myth # 1: You have to teach yourself the material.

Truth #1: Even when students are learning in a hybrid or entirely virtual environment, their professors are still there to teach and guide their students through the course material. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors for clarification or help; they want you to succeed! Make sure to check your syllabus to see when your professor offers office hours so that you may have a one-on-one meeting with them to discuss any questions or concerns.

Myth #2: You will have no interactions with other students or classmates.

Truth #2: Even with social distancing limitations, many professors are trying to increase interaction between students by using breakout rooms, discussion forums, and in-class discussions. Try to participate fully in these communal learning experiences by speaking up in breakout rooms, responding to others in discussion forums, and turning on your video so you can communicate more fully while in class. Not only will this help you remember the material, but it may also help your participation grade!

You can also email classmates to see who would be interested in forming a virtual study group on Zoom to review the class material.

Outside of class, there are so many different ways that you can be involved at Marymount. Make sure to check each Monday’s edition of the Bark and check Engage for upcoming events happening in person or virtually.

Myth #3: Online courses are easier than on-campus courses.

Truth #3: Online courses are just as challenging as in-person classes. Just because you are engaging with the class material over the computer rather than in a classroom doesn’t mean that material will be any less challenging. Online and hybrid courses still cover the same material and are taught by the same professors, so you should expect them to be as academically rigorous as any Marymount course. Depending on how your professors adapt assignments to an online environment, you may even find that online courses require more engagement and time on assignments. For a typical 15-credit course load, students should expect to spend 3-4 hours a day studying and doing homework, and this holds true for online courses as well.

Myth #4: I can cram all my work into one login session.

Truth #4: It is hard for a student to be successful in any course if you only log in once a week to do all your assignments. In most classes, professors have assignments due daily or twice a week, so if you try to do a full week’s work in one day you feel overwhelmed and rushed. It will be far more effective for your learning and memorization to engage with the material more often rather than cramming. Also, when you break up your assignments into manageable chunks and do a little each day, it’s less daunting to log in since you won’t have a huge amount of work to catch up on.

Succeeding in Online Classes

What can I do to succeed in an online learning environment?

  1. Find or create a productive working environment. Don’t do work in bed or lounging on the couch because that triggers “rest” in your brain. Find a desk or table with proper lighting and space for you to lay out your materials.
  2. Minimize distractions. While studying, turn off your phone, notifications, and text messages especially if using your phone to access Canvas or course materials.
  3. Set boundaries. Inform those around you that you will be doing coursework and ask them not to interrupt.
  4. Maintain your routine and manage your time. Treat your course the same as if it were not online. If your class started at 11, log into Canvas for that course at 11. Maintaining your routine will help with your time management. Continue to use your time management tool as you normally do (planner, scheduler, alert system, Google Cal, etc.).
  5. Read carefully and follow instructions. Whether it’s a lecture, slides, or reading, be sure to read the instructions provided by your instructor so you understand everything that is being asked of you.
  6. Ask for assistance. If you’re unsure of something related to your coursework, ask your instructor or a colleague in your class. Chances are someone else had the same question!
  7. Breathe. You are not alone. This is not impossible. Stress can impact you mentally and physically. If you follow the steps listed above you will be well-equipped to become a good online learner.
  8. Use your resources. We’re here to help!  Academic support such as tutoring, academic coaching, academic advising, student access services (SAS), Library and Learning Services are all available remotely. Information about how to access all of these great resources is listed further down on this page.

Are there any helpful resources for succeeding in online learning environments?

The internet can be a wonderful source of information. However, it can also be overwhelming to try to find reliable resources. Below are some helpful resources vetted by the Student Academic Hub:

What if I don’t know how to use Zoom?

Some of your professors may choose to hold class meetings online via Zoom. If so, they will provide you with a link to join the Zoom meeting. Here’s a one-minute guide to joining a Zoom meeting.

Marymount students can use Zoom meetings to stay connected with friends and classmates. Just go to the MU Portal and find Zoom under “Sign On Links.” You can also go directly to Here’s a one-minute video on how to schedule a Zoom meeting, add it to your Google Calendar, and copy/paste the meeting link so you can invite others.

For a more detailed guide to Zoom, including information on break out rooms and Zoom’s chat feature, check out this guide created by UNC.

If you are having technical difficulties with Zoom, contact Marymount’s IT Services via email at

What do I do if I need help from IT?

Email from your MU email account and describe the issue you are having. Marymount’s IT Services will help you as quickly as they can.

What if I don’t have a computer or internet access at home?

If you need assistance with access to a computer or internet service, please email Marymount IT Services at

Stay Organized in your Online Classes

With all of the changes and unknowns surrounding this time, you may feel stressed and anxious. Remember to be patient with yourself, colleagues and instructors as we are all experiencing this together. It is important that you take care of yourself first. Making a plan and adjusting your study habits may help you feel more in control.

Things to find out for each class:

  • Are in-person parts of the class changing?
    • What happens in person for this course? (lecture, lab, etc.)
    • Where can you find it or how do you access it? (Zoom, Canvas, etc.)
    • What time does it start? Or, is it always available?
  • Are assignments changing?
    • Are there new due dates?
    • How should you submit your assignments?
    • How will you take your quizzes or exams?
  • What should you do if you need help?
    • Are there virtual office hours?
    • When and on what platform? (Zoom, Panopto, etc.)
    • Is there an online forum for asking questions?

Example of how to track your class changes:

MA 121 EN 200 PSY 200
Important Dates Quiz on Monday 3/23 Analysis due Friday 3/27
Changes Open note quiz Discussion required No group project
Important Links Office hours Zoom link Lecture Zoom link

This piece of information has been reused and modified from “Adjusting your study habits during COVID.” Content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Stay Calm and Keep Learning

Click this link for audio tracks to help you stay calm and support your mental and emotional wellness.


Accessing Academic Support

How do I connect with my academic advisor (if my advisor is part of the Student Academic Hub)?

Your academic success is always important to us. Academic Advisors are available for you to discuss your academic progress, guide in course planning for future semesters, and to answer your important academic questions.

Academic advising appointments are available via Zoom OR face-to-face in our office (Main Campus, Rowley 1005).

You may schedule an appointment in Starfish, which is found under Sign On Links in the Portal. Appointments are available during our office hours of Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Your academic advisor will appear in your Success Network on the Starfish homepage.

Email your advisor with specific questions about your schedule or degree plan, or email with general questions. Please allow us 2 business days to reply to your messages.

Semester plans can still be reviewed in MY MU Plan.

How do I connect with an academic coach?

Students who are interested in academic coaching (strategies for time management, becoming a better online learner, getting organized, prioritizing, study skills, etc.) can schedule an appointment with our academic coach, Chanelle Sears, in Starfish. Starfish is found under Sign On Links in the Portal. Once you log in to Starfish, look for Chanelle among the people who appear on your Starfish homepage and click on her name to schedule an appointment.

If you are a first-year student who is connected to a peer academic coach through a Connections course you are taking, you may make an appointment with a peer academic coach by clicking on the “Peer Coaching” service near the bottom of your Starfish homepage.

You can also email to arrange for a coaching appointment.

Library & Learning Services

The main campus library is now open to Marymount University patrons, with ID access only. You may now request Marymount-owned materials for contactless pickup. Services are also being provided virtually. Click here for more information.

How do I connect with Student Access Services (SAS)?

Appointments with Student Access Services (SAS) staff are available via Zoom OR face-to-face in our office (Main Campus, Rowley 1005).

You may schedule an appointment in Starfish, which is found under Sign On Links in the Portal. SAS staff (Sven Jones and Maureen Dour) will appear in your Success Network on the Starfish homepage.

Appointments are available during our office hours of Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. You may also email to schedule an appointment.

How do I connect with tutors/writing consultants?

Tutoring sessions are available via Zoom OR face-to-face in our office (Main Campus, Rowley 1008) to all students.

Tutoring appointments can be made on TutorTrac, which can be accessed through your Marymount Portal ( under the “Sign On Links” section. Here is a link to a step-by-step guide to making an appointment, and here is a link to a video tutorial on making an appointment.

Need tutoring help right away? Check out Brainfuse, a 24/7 online system for one-on-one course content tutoring and writing assistance that is free to Marymount students.

Questions? Please call (703) 284-1538email, or drop by the Student Academic Hub in Rowley 1005.