Navigating AU as a New Student

Despite the excitement of enrolling in a new course or program, at times, navigating Athabasca University (AU) as a new student can be an intimidating process.

When I started my AU journey several years ago, I had taken over a decade-long break from traditional post-secondary education.  In those days, I had worked on a large desktop with accompanying tower, did library research in-house, and e-texts were not yet in existence.  In addition, I was used to a traditional brick-and-mortar structure, one in which I could simply make an appointment with an advisor or walk into various offices to discuss my doubts.

Coming to AU as someone who had experience in post-secondary education, I had been confident, but during my first few weeks and months, I realized that this was a vastly different experience, and not solely because is was online.

Over the years, I have learned many lessons, from tutors, from my own trial and error, and most of all from my fellow students.  I continue to learn to this day, which, in a way, fits into AU’s lifelong learning mandate.  However, I do have several tips that I feel confident with share with new learners.

Some important links to bookmark, which will surely help students on their AU journey include

Accessibility Services offers accommodations for students, including alternative assessments, alternative material formats, and supports,

Financial Aid, which helps students manage student finances and student loans from funding agencies,

Program and Course Advising, which can help students with their educational goals, and

AU’s Award Finder, which is a great resource for bursaries and awards.

In addition, students requiring mental health supports, are encouraged to visit AU’s Mental Health and Wellness page.

Students with questions about their specific courses should contact their respective tutors, who often send a welcome email at the beginning of their course with an introduction and office hours for phone calls.  More information and additional resources can be found at Tutoring and Learning Support.  In addition, for students who require assignment and writing advice, they can visit AU’s Write Site.

New students may also be interested in learning more about Nukskahtowin, which “address[es] the academic and administrative needs of Indigenous citizens who are academics and learners at Athabasca University.”

Finally, and most importantly, for new students, I would suggest reaching out to fellow students.  Various student groups exist on social media, including Facebook and Discord.  Students can connect with fellow students in their respective programs, and or just chat socially.

AU is known for independent, asynchronous learning; however, this does not mean that one has to complete their entire degree completely alone.  There are student communities available throughout, and if you should so choose, there are many ways to get involved.

My last piece of advice is not to hesitate to ask questions and ask for help when needed.  Best of luck on your AU journey!

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