September Student Refresher

September marks a fresh new year of studies. Earlier this week, I opened my recently-delivered box of course textbooks with the same excitement I give to Christmas presents.

I’ve always enjoyed the start of a school year. Learning something new holds endless fascination for me. Starting a new course, and cracking the spine on some new textbooks, gives me a little frisson of excitement.

Although I begin AU courses year round, September still has that ingrained association with a new school year. Perhaps, like Gretchen Rubin says in this blog post for Psychology Today, September is the other January: a chance to start with a fresh slate. For me, That’s precisely what September feels like: a fresh start.

Before I rip open the shrink-wrap on my textbooks, I take a few days at the beginning of September to re-orient myself to my AU studies. The process of review helps me to uncover information that I’ve forgotten and assists me in beginning my studies with a grounded attitude. There’s a wealth of information available for AU students, and September is the perfect time for me to invest some time in learning, or re-learning, some AU basics:

Undergraduate Student Orientation. While this orientation is primarily aimed at new and prospective students, after several years of AU study I can benefit from a refresher, too. With modules covering basic how-to’s, AU advising and support services, and scholarship information, the orientation’s format allows me to quickly scan through information relevant to me. As I noted in an earlier article for The Voice, “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.” It’s a good place to begin my September refresher.

myAU. Often, the myAU portal serves solely as a page I have to get through to access my courses. Yet there is a lot more here that is worthy of my attention and it makes sense to review what is available from time to time. Besides the Student Home tab, where I access my courses, there are four more tabs to explore: Student Services, Community, Library, and Student Help. The Student Services tab, for example, serves as a gateway to almost everything I need to know about being a student at AU. Some services that weren’t relevant to me on my previous visits to this page, like course extensions, are (unfortunately) relevant now. There are also services listed that I’d forgotten about, such as the AU Store, plus several more I don’t recall seeing before, such as the AU Photo ID Card.

AU Library. I don’t use the library for every course. But when I need research materials, I need to know how to obtain them. Because I use the library’s website infrequently, and because the website underwent a major renovation last year, I find it helpful to reorient myself. I access a recorded orientation session to re-familiarize myself with AU’s library and then browse through some of the many tutorials on the Get Help page.

AUSU. I’ve evolved as a student in the past year or so. Similarly, the Athabasca University Students’ Union has refined what it offers students. As I review the Services page, I consider whether I’m ready to download a free copy of SmartDraw, begin working on my next AUSU scholarship application, or check out the new mental health service, Student LifeLine.

September is for me, in a way, the other January. It’s an opportunity to begin a new year with a fresh outlook, and fresh inspiration. My few days of student refreshing will fuel my motivation for another year of studies at AU. Now, back to work!

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

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