When Athabasca University (@AthabascaU) tweeted on September 2, “Many of you have been back to school for a few hours now…how’s it going?” I was tempted to reply, “It’s going great! I’m taking the day off.”
My latest AU course started September 1, but I didn’t. While the majority of Canadian university students trundled off to orientation week activities or directly to classes, I put my feet up. Because I take AU courses year-round, I decided I deserved a little break. After writing the exam for my last course in mid-August and before cracking open the books for my next one in September, I carved out a few weeks of down time.
The beauty of online study is I make my own schedule. Instead of starting my course on the contract date of September 1, I decided to start on the 15th. It’s up to me to decide when, and if, to work on my course, and when to play. And I don’t have to leave my house to study?unless I want to. I don’t have to lug books around campus corridors; I don’t have to move. My home is my campus.
For on-campus students, however, September often begins in chaos and uncertainty. Last week in Waterloo, Ontario, for example, hundreds of University of Waterloo students discovered that the new off-campus apartment building they planned to move into would not be finished in time for the fall semester. According to this article in The Record, up to 500 students found out on September 1 that they would have to make alternative arrangements for accommodation. Instead of settling into a new semester’s study routines, students are scrambling for a place to stay.
As an AU student, I’m immune to these housing glitches. AU’s campus comes to me. So while hundreds of UW students spent last week couch-surfing and stressing, I took the week off. While university students everywhere navigated unfamiliar campuses, I hopped an intercity bus and let someone else do the driving. While other students tried to make connections in the chaos of orientation week, I reconnected with family and friends. While others attended sessions on how to ward off attacks on campus, I let my mother slaughter me at cribbage.
The first week of September may brim with bustle for on-campus students, but it was a relaxing week for this off-campus learner. Even the annoyance of a missed bus connection on Sunday’s return trip didn’t rattle me. As I languished in the Toronto bus terminal for over four hours waiting for a vacant seat on a later bus heading home?or at least in that general direction?I watched the tense faces of similarly stranded students as they tried to get back early enough to get a decent night’s sleep before the first day of classes. Like them, I wasn’t thrilled to arrive in Ottawa in the wee hours of Monday morning; unlike them, I’m not obliged to show up for any classes.
With five AU courses successfully completed, I have confidence in my study schedule. I know when and how much I need to work, and when I can chill. I may stress about essays and exams, but I faced the first week of a new school year with calm.
So AU, you want to know how It’s going so far? Just fine, thanks. See you online tomorrow.