So, how do campus-based universities compare to AU? Well, if you ask me, both better and worse.
The key benefit to on-campus universities is clout. When I’d tell employers I scored top grades in math, they grilled me, “Which school?” When I mentioned an on-campus university, they’d ease back into their chairs, eyebrows lifting as slow smiles spread.
Campus-based universities also limit what you need to learn. You see, campus profs tip you off on what you need to study. That hasn’t been my experience at AU. At AU, I got assigned a textbook with a billion pages. I could’ve used it as a dinner table—for the United Nations. Study that without a peep from your prof!
But on the bright side, AU relies on textbooks while campus universities zero mostly in on lectures. In other words, miss a lecture at a campus university, and burn at the stake test time.
My biggest issue with AU is the outdated textbooks. Try learning social media or programming from books a thousand years old. What kind of education is that? Programs like Coursera make more sense if you want to learn something applicable to the 21st century.
The biggest edge campus schools have is grad studies. Campus universities shovel cash into your wallet. During graduate studies at a campus university, I won a scholarship for $24,000. I then won another one for a similar amount. But they only let me keep one. I also secured a graduate teaching assistant role for over $5000. When my scholarship cash ran out, I paid $400 a month from my fulltime job. Twice I could barely afford rent. But wow did I dine and shop clothing. The purple-haired dean labeled my wardrobe most enviable.
But campus universities have downsides. For one, older students have harder times fitting in. They start off as misfits—as targets. That is, unless they look like George Clooney with the personality of Dalai Lama. Even then, they spend their weekends skiing with profs, not schoolmates. But online, they can upload their grade two pic and no-one would be the wiser.
And at campus universities, keeping up with fashions proves humbling. When I was on campus, low rise jeans came back into style. So, I slipped them on with my paunch hanging over my belt. And don’t do as I did by bleaching your hair into raccoon-streaks. One friend joked my next salon-trek would yield a skunk.
But the worst part about physical universities is the social drama. Young people don’t have fully developed amygdalae—the emotion centers of the brain. So, gossip, backstabbing, and bullying abound. A day in the dorm feels like a librarian’s reenactment of Jason from Friday the 13th.
The best part of AU over campus universities? You can work-at-your-own-pace. Setting your own schedule fits well with busy lifestyles—and frees you of stinky buses and steroid-induced parking fees.
So, which is best: campus universities or AU? They both have their ups and downs, but if you prefer to laze about in your PJs, eat Domino’s pizza, and submit assignments at your leisure, plumber’s butt is not a bad thing after all. Besides, who really cares what George Clooney thinks?
[Comparisons between “Us” and “Them” are always a popular thing, and one of the ways that The Voice Magazine compares to traditional student newspapers is that, like AU, people can be with us for a very long time, giving us a chance to see how their style and thinking evolves over time. The Study Dude has been a long-standing column with The Voice Magazine, but this particular article, not only being a great comparison between AU and campus based universities, is a change from Marie Wells usual style. That change is emblematic of the Voice, and part of why it’s here in The Best of issue]