Dear Sandra

Choosing courses for your program

Dear Sandra,

Hi, I’m a first year student and I’m very confused about what courses I should be taking. I am in the 4-Year BA program. HELP!!

Dazed & Confused in BC

Dear Dazed & Confused,

You aren’t the first student I’ve heard this complaint from; in fact I myself was in this same position a year ago. It amazes me that an academic counselling session is not mandatory upon registration at AU. Putting together my study plan was like rocket science!

Start by checking in the middle of the AU calendar. There you will find a blank program-planning chart. This chart breaks down exactly how many junior and senior courses you need. Check your chosen major (Anthropology, Psychology, etc.) to fill in the required core courses first. After, fill in the electives with other courses pertaining to your area of study or just ones that generally interest you. Not too many students seem to know that you can do a double major at AU, so if there are two programs areas that particularly interest you, fill in the required core courses for both (there won¡¦t be too much room for elective courses though).

After you’ve filled in the program-planning chart send it away to AU’s academic advisors (see contact information below) to make sure you are meeting all the requirements for the degree. Remember you can change this study plan at anytime throughout your degree process – it’s not set in stone.

If you visit AU’s site at you can also see a few sample study plans. Likewise you can go onto the Students’Union discussion forum at and ask for a little help from your fellow students. Maybe some of the other 28,000 students will be taking the same program you are and would be willing to share their study plans with you?? Also when it comes to choosing courses it might be a good idea to hear some feedback about particular courses from students. I myself took many unnecessary or difficult courses in the beginning and I have become quite meticulous in choosing my courses wisely. Read through each course’s syllabus and check out AUSU’s course review section for help on deciding which courses to take.

Good luck, once you make it past this hurdle adjusting to university seems a lot easier, until you actually have to do the assignments :).

[ed. don’t forget to check the course evaluation surveys on the AUSU website to see if someone has reviewed a course you want to take! Look for the link on the top menu bar.]

AU Academic Advisors can be reached at:
or phone toll free from anywhere in Canada or the U.S. at 1-800-788-9041
In Calgary you can dial local, (403) 263-6465, and in Edmonton dial (780) 421-8700

Advisors are also available to assist you in person at the Calgary and Edmonton Learning Centers of AU, and at the Athabasca University main campus.



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of