Aimed primarily at new and prospective students, the Student Orientation Handbook contains a wealth of information for current students, too.
The handbook’s structure is similar to an AU online study guide. The chapter titles and subsection headings run down the left-hand side of the screen. Like a study guide, one subsection is displayed at a time and arrows are used to move to the next?or previous?section.
It takes about 45 minutes to read through the entire 7-chapter orientation. Because the subsections are listed on each screen, you can save time by selecting sections of interest to you instead of following the arrows to each subsequent screen. Each subsection summarizes its topic and contains links to in-depth information on either AU’s or external sites. Caution: unless you have endless time, be judicious on which links you click on; I opened selected links in a different tab to read later.
The Student Orientation is presented in seven chapters or modules. A summary of each, as well as the approximate time to read (not including links,) follows:
Chapter 1 – About Athabasca University (5 minutes.) As a current student, you can easily skip or skim most of this. But the section on AU’s Service Standards is worth reviewing: if you’ve ever found yourself drumming your fingers waiting for an essay or exam to be marked, you’ll find the link on this page worth bookmarking.
Chapter 2 – Application, Course Registration, and Other Student Processes (10 minutes.) Most of this section is worth a review, although current students can perhaps skip the How do I Become an AU Student? subsection. Other subsections provide valuable information on auditing or challenging a course, obtaining a refund, withdrawing from a course, and extending a course.
Chapter 3 – Advising Services (8 minutes.) If you haven’t used advising services at AU yet, you’ll find helpful information in this chapter on what advising services can do for you. Additionally, this chapter provides information on Transfer Credit, PLAR, DegreeWorks, and your Application to Graduate.
Chapter 4 – Important Policy Information (3 minutes.) You’re probably already familiar with the “Academic Misconduct Policy,” the “Non-Academic Misconduct Policy,” and the “Student Appeals Policy” (but if You’re not, you can?and should?read about them here.) The Other Important Policies at AU subsection contains policies you may be less-familiar with, including the “Course Extension Policy,” the “Policy for Students with Disabilities,” the “Undergraduate Grading Policy,” and the “Undergraduate Transfer Policy,” among others.
Chapter 5 – Student Support Services (7 minutes.) Even if you don’t need them?now?It’s a good idea to be familiar with the support services available. Each subsection summarizes a group of services available to students, from he AU Information Centre to the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Research.
Chapter 6 – Financial Planning, Student Financial Assistance, and AU’s Student Awards Program (8 minutes.) Unless you’ve got boodles of bucks, You’re sure to find something helpful here: information on loans, scholarships, budgeting, and dipping into RSPs to finance your education.
Chapter 7 – Exams at AU (5 minutes.) Most helpful for new students and those who haven’t written an exam in a while, this final chapter also contains information relevant to all students. Supplemental Exams, anyone? How about Exam Anxiety?
The Undergraduate Student Orientation Handbook offers the current student a meaningful review of AU’s procedures and services. It also serves as a one-stop student shopping mall, with portals to almost every bit of information an AU student could wish to know. I found it easy to read, helpful to review, and worthy of bookmarking.
Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario