AU: Closing the Distance

I was asked to describe what it’s like to go to AU.  Like many students, I benefit from the uniqueness of AU and I was happy to share my passion for the AU experience.

If I could sum up AU in two words, those words would be “removes barriers”.  The absence of barriers is the essence of AU.  Anyone can go to AU.  There is no cumbersome application or approval process.  Five minutes and a few clicks is all it takes for anybody, anywhere, to be enrolled in one course or a full program.  Not only is it simple to enrol at AU, it is simple to attend.  Anyone with access to the internet can attend, no matter where they are physically located.  AU opens up education to students living far from traditional universities, including those in rural and remote areas, and those whose circumstances require relocation.

AU removes more than just physical barriers.  The flexibility of AU courses allows students to make their schooling fit around their life, not their life around their schooling.  A student working full-time can go to AU without giving up paid employment.  A single parent can go to AU without worrying about the expense and inconvenience of finding childcare.   A soldier can go to AU without worrying about where they will be deployed next month.  Students can further their education without fear of discrimination based on their colour, gender, orientation, faith, or disability.

AU is freedom. Studying at AU allows students to choose when and where they will study.  An AU student can study on their lunch break at work, after the kids go to bed, or in the middle of the night when inspiration strikes.  AU students can study in coffee shops, on airplanes, or at the beach.  AU’s flexibility allows students to go to their child’s hockey practice, accompany their spouse to a conference, or undergo kidney dialysis—and still keep studying.

AU breaks the “one size fits all” barrier.   AU students are complex and unique.  One student may be rushing through to gather credits and a degree so they can qualify for that much-desired promotion at work.  Another student might be taking one course at a time, extracting every bit of knowledge from each before moving on to the next.  A third student could be taking four courses this year, and one the next, depending on what’s going on in their life.  There is no one way to be a successful student at AU—there are 40,000 ways.

AU facilitates learning.  AU students are not hampered by a single way of looking at their studies.  The middleman is eliminated—or at least much reduced—enabling each AU student to directly confront the material.  AU students grow exponentially by devising their own approach to the material, engaging directly with course content, and forming their own ideas and opinions.  By necessity, AU students also develop unparalleled discipline, focus, and determination.  AU students experience multi-dimensional growth to an extent unimaginable elsewhere.

For me, the AU experience has been enriching.  Although I miss the vibrancy of classroom instruction I believe I’ve learned much more in my campus of one.  Because of AU, I’ve worked harder, pushed further, and grown in ways I couldn’t imagine.

Distance learning through AU served to remove the barrier of distance between me and traditional institutions.  AU’s campus may be 3600 kilometres away but AU is removing barriers and closing the distance between me and my goals.