Originally from Victoria, Mia Wiens is working on her Diploma of Arts from AU while living in Medicine Hat, where she recently moved after spending four years in Calgary, Alberta. But AU is not her first distance education experience. She was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to tell The Voice Magazine more.
Which AU program are you in?
I am currently working a Diploma of Arts. I was originally working on the BA degree in Psychology but switched to the diploma in hopes of getting a better part-time job, at which point I will reapply to the degree program.
Describe the path that led you to AU.
I’ve always been interested in Psychology and that was my original path when I lived in BC. I was accepted to Kwantlen Polytech to complete an Associate’s in Psychology. However, it wasn’t meant to be as I was unable to find suitable housing. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Calgary. I completed a Land Administration certificate via distance through Olds College and got a job in that field. I decided that I wanted to pursue a higher degree but wanted to continue working. I did a search for online degree programs and came across AU. I decided to go for it, originally starting in Anthropology and then switching to Psychology.
What do you do like to do when You’re not studying?
Netflix! Or I get majorly distracted by the internet.
Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
Myself. I’ve always had this drive to learn more. I always feel like I don’t know enough and I need to know more. I am very curious. I have a thirst for knowledge you could say.
What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
Picasso. He’s my favourite artist. He seems pleasantly odd. Right up my alley.
Describe your experience with online learning. What do you like? Dislike?
AU is not my first run with online/distance learning. I did some extra high school courses via distance. My certificate was online. My previous experiences as well as my experience with AU have all been pretty positive. I’d pursue other online or distance programs.
I like the freedom that comes with online learning; the flexibility. I’m not bound by class times and I can work at my own pace. I dislike that there are no due dates. I found with my online course at Olds the assignment deadlines were very helpful; however, in the program it was one set contract length so it worked. I’ve had to adjust to giving myself due dates and sticking to them.
Have you had a time when you wavered about your education?
Yes. After my first horrible year, I contemplated dropping out and quitting. However, I spoke with an AU counsellor who really gave me perspective and helped me realize that a major in anthropology wasn’t for me and could be a reason why I was struggling.
What was your most memorable AU course?
My favourite course to do was SOAN 384 (also under ANTH 384). I found the course really interesting.
If you won $20 million in a lottery, what would you do with it?
I would put a healthy chunk into my daughter’s RESP. Pay off mine and my families debts, put some aside for savings, travel, invest a small portion, open a psychological based foundation/charity, and possibly donate a large portion.
What’s the single best thing AU could do to improve your student experience?
Finding a better way of allowing students to get hold of tutors. Personally, I believe that when a student has questions waiting days or, for some, weeks, for a response isn’t conducive to learning. I’ve had limited experience with the support centre and although the response was more prompt, the help I received was worse than just waiting for my tutor to get back to me. So, I definitely think finding a better way for students get help would be the biggest improvement I’d love to see AU make. And maybe get rid of those awful e-texts.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a “superpower”, which one would it be?
What is your most prized possession?
I have to pick one? My laptop! It has everything.
Please tell us something that few people know about you.
I love novelty items. I also love odd and unusual things. They amuse me and make my heart happy.
What do you think about e-texts?
I absolutely despise them. I am forever a real book kinda gal. I love being able to highlight and make notes by hand. Plus, it hurts my eyes less!
How do you find communications with your course tutors?
Hit or miss. Some are very good and some a very poor. However, I try to understand each tutor has a different course load with varying number of students.
What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
I just finished The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path and have moved on to Dragon Fly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon.