The Voice Magazine recently had a chance to chat with Amanda Solar (she/her), an Alberta-based undergraduate student currently completing the Bachelor of General Studies program.
On a personal note, Amanda is originally from Saskatchewan but “now call[s] Alberta home.” She let us know, “I moved to Alberta to attend school. Before starting at AU, I completed my Social Work Diploma and then went on to finish my Business Administration Diploma. Currently, I work at a post-secondary institution, and enjoy being able to help students navigate through their academic journey.”
Amanda had some great study tips for fellow undergraduates. “I find I do my best studying when I get out of my house, either at a library or coffee shop. It gets me out of my home environment and all the distractions that are around me. I am kind of old school and like to take a lot of notes on paper and highlight important topics in textbooks as I find it helps me remember things that I am learning. Motivation for me is being able to see the finish line and knowing that studying for midterms or finals is one more step closer to finishing my course and program.”
She also had some solid advice to give to new students and/or prospective students. “Time management is key! It can be so easy to put off studying or working on assignments since there are no set due dates. Treat each course like you would as if you were attending in person and set your own due dates and goals to have assignments completed and exams written and hold yourself accountable to them. While studying and keeping up with assignments is super important as a student, it is also important to make sure you are taking time for yourself and doing whatever you consider to be self-care.”
When she is not busy studying, Amanda enjoys travelling. “I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in Europe as well as living in Australia prior to attending school. I like exploring new places and learning about new cultures and cities,” she stated. She also enjoys music, “whether it’s just listening to music or attending concerts, and on occasion picking up a guitar.” She continued, “Most of the time I can be found at home watching Netflix, reading, and hanging out with my dog.”
She credits her parents with having the greatest influence on her desire to learn. She explained, “My Mom always stressed that no education is ever wasted.”
As for her experience with online learning so far? “I really enjoy the flexibility that online learning offers. It allows me to keep working full time and work away at my remaining classes from anywhere. However, I really do miss taking in person classes and getting to interact face to face with instructors and classmates. I think the in-person connection is a huge part of the student experience, so I am fortunate to have had that during my diploma programs.”
When asked about her most memorable course, Amanda shared a story that may AU students could relate to. “I am lucky to have been granted a lot of transfer credit from my previous diplomas, so even though I am almost finished my program I am only on my third AU course. I recently just finished CMNS 423: The Television Age. I really enjoyed that course as it allowed me to think about the television shows I watch in a different perspective. It also makes courses that much more enjoyable when the topic is on something you actually enjoy, so being able to write papers on shows I watch and love made it seem like less of a task than most other homework I have ever had,” she explained.
As for communications with her course tutors? “While I have not had to email my tutors much yet, so far, I have had good communication with the course tutors I have had. The tutors I have had have all been responsive via email in a reasonable timeframe.”
The Voice Magazine also asked Amanda what her first project would be if she were the new president of AU. She stated, “I would try to have the courses set up so there is more interaction with the tutors and fellow students in the course. I don’t need any group projects; however, it would be nice to get to know the tutors and fellow students in the course. Having a bit of interaction makes it easier to reach out if you do find that you need in help with certain things in the course.”
We also asked which famous person, past or present, she would like to have lunch with, and why, and Amanda chose actor Matthew McConaughey. “He has always been one of my favourite actors, and I think he would be able to offer some pretty good life advice. His book Greenlights is one of the books that has recently had an impact on my life. While it is an autobiography on McConaughey’s life, he offers some interesting perspective and life advice to the reader,” she let us know.
Amanda’s most valuable lesson learned in life is something that could speak to fellow AUs students. “Everyone’s journey looks different and there is no set timeline for walking through life. Don’t worry about what everyone else’s journey may look life and do what makes you happy.”
And her proudest moment? That would be when she graduated with her business diploma. “It took me a few years longer than it should have and I had a few setbacks along the way, so it was very satisfying to finally say I was done,” she stated.
As a final note, Amanda added, “Stick with it even when it seems too challenging! The reward is even greater after having to face a little adversity!” Best of luck Amanda!
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!