The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Luisa Depta (she/her), a Bachelor of Arts – Psychology student from Alberta, who plans to continue on to a Master’s in Counselling.
On a personal note, Luisa let us know, “I was born, raised and still live in Southern Alberta. I live with my husband and our two dogs, turtle, chameleon, two hedgehogs, hamster, bearded dragon, leopard gecko, and poison dart frogs. I’ve worked as an emergency dispatcher for the last ten years but have always had an interest in psychology and began the Bachelor of Arts – Psychology program at the end of 2017. Between shiftwork and life in general, the program has taken longer than I would have liked, but I’ve learned so much about myself in the process and really enjoy the opportunity to learn.”
This busy student had some great tips for fellow learners. “I’m fortunate to be able to study during downtime at work and do a lot of reading and note-taking during these times. On my days off I like to get up early to work on course essays since there are fewer interruptions and my thoughts can flow better.”
She continued, “My best study tips would be to keep the end goal in mind and to not get bogged down and discouraged by one course, to set attainable but somewhat flexible deadlines for yourself and to review information throughout the course instead of trying to cram and re-remember at the end. I’ve found making flashcards on Cram.com to be incredibly helpful, especially because I can study them on the go through their app. I also like to use the Google calendar task function to track what readings and assignments I plan to complete and when—it makes it easy to rearrange when needed!”
She also had some great advice for new students and/or prospective students. “You’ll learn just as much (if not more) about extra-curricular items as curricular ones. I learned a lot regarding study habits that worked best for me, as well as strategies for communication and advocacy for myself. These will change and evolve over time and you’ll become more proficient as time goes on.”
When she is not studying, you can find her walking her dogs, spending time with her “critters,” and “sprucing up enclosures and hanging out with everyone.” She continued, “My husband and I also foster through our local humane society so we love getting to know the various critters who crash with us for a little while. When it’s warm, my husband and I like to kayak. I also try to get to the gym as often as possible as its had a huge impact on my mood and energy levels.”
Luisa had an interesting answer for who in her life has had the greatest influence on her desire to learn. “This might sound a little silly because it isn’t anyone directly in my life or even one single person. However, my husband and I chose to not have children and I am very aware of how many women do not (or in the past, did not) get to make this choice when they otherwise might have wanted to, because of the society they live(d) in or the era they grew up. I don’t take this freedom to pursue my goals and dreams lightly and this inspires me to make the most of this opportunity.”
As for her experience with online learning so far? “I left traditional high school in grade ten and finished at an alternative school (I guess it was the equivalent of online learning before online learning was really a thing), so I’m very familiar with learning on my own and teaching myself the concepts. I know this is a big learning curve for many people and should definitely be a big consideration before someone chooses Athabasca – Athabasca isn’t simply “classes online,” it is much different and really requires a particular set of skills, skills that one will acquire and perfect over their long university career, to semi-quote Liam Neeson. I also really appreciate not having to sit through classes or make my work and home life fit around pre-determined class times.”
However, like many students, she had a critique. “My main dislike has been inconsistencies between courses/tutors, although I know this is commonplace across universities,” she explained.
She could not “choose a singular course” when asked about her most memorable AU course, but mentioned that “despite being a psych major, [she has] been surprised at [her] interest in the anthropology courses.” She continued, “They’ve challenged previous beliefs I’ve had and opened my mind to new considerations and understandings.”
As for communications with her course tutors? “Like any other university, each tutor differs. I had one tutor who sent out a handwritten card welcoming me to the course and other tutors who I’ve had little contact with. I try to remember that despite any preferences I might have, tutors are human and each one will differ. Despite this, each tutor has something to offer—whether scholastically or otherwise.”
The Voice Magazine also asked Luisa what her first project would be if elected the new president of AU, and she had a great answer for us. “If I were the new president of AU, my first project would be to update course materials and ensure texts/AU provided information/quizzes/etc. are all in sync and relevant. I’ve often found course outlines don’t correspond with particular readings or that readings or even instructions are outdated (i.e. stating to use APA 6 vs 7),” she stated. Best of luck Luisa!
At times, in an online learning environment, it can feel like you are all alone, but across the nation and around the globe, students just like you are also pursuing their Athabasca University (AU) studies! Each week, The Voice Magazine will be bringing you some of these stories. If you would like to be featured next, do not hesitate to get in touch!