Volume 25 Issue 32 2017-08-18
Studying through AU opens doors. Its unique delivery style means that people who cannot relocate are still able to access higher education. AU also gives students studying at other universities an opportunity to complete credits quicker through credit transfer. I was surprised how many people attending traditional university also attend AU, even if for only a course or two. It allows those students to take the courses they want/need even when there is a scheduling conflict.
For full-time or exclusively AU students, the social atmosphere is much different than at bricks and mortar (B&M) schools. There is typically a single event that a decent number of students will attend–convocation. When I started, I felt isolated—like I was the only one studying a specific course. There was no comradery and it was a strange feeling. I was grateful for the opportunity to complete my degree on my terms, but it was also created a bit of an island for me.
I eventually found places to connect with other students, and that connection made the experience more enjoyable. It made me wonder though –what are we missing from a B&M school? The social aspect is certainly lacking with AU, there is only so much community that can be established when the students are spread across the globe. I spent a little time in a B&M school and in that short time I made life long friends. People I really connected with and still stay close with, even though now we live hours apart and maybe only speak a few times a year. I have, however, made life time connections with people at AU, the only difference is that I’ve never met them.
The social aspect may be different, but the connections we make with each other are no less real. We don’t go and party with each other, but we connect through struggle and accomplishment, we cheer each other on through studies and beyond as we embark into the world–striving for our dreams.
AU gives us opportunities that we may not otherwise get, but with those come certain struggles and elations that can be hard to understand for those outside of this world. There is no one answer for everyone. For some, the idea of studying alone without the outlet of a classroom or the after-parties is daunting and uninviting.
But for others, it is about studying, and crafting connections based on that, while letting off steam elsewhere. While some may cringe at spending hours locked away in an office, alone, with their nose pressed into a book, I loved it. This is why AU was a great fit for me, it allowed me to learn in the way that worked best for me. I was able to craft connections with students, when I found the appropriate channels, and make connections that are no less real than those I formed through the B&M university.
There are pros and cons to every method of studying. But with AU it removes the barriers that many face when wanting to get a higher education. The biggest for me was I didn’t want to leave my life for three years to finish my degree. If I had gone to a bricks and mortar institution, I would have been missing everything here, and, while I would still have got a degree, I’m not confident it would have had the same impact on me, or the way I think. Studying here allowed me to process and allow my mind to grow free of distractions. I was happy, and studying happy is more effective than studying when you’re not.
I think the most important thing to consider when choosing what school to attend is where will you be happiest? Maybe you don’t know, and that is okay. But it isn’t always about reputation or what might be the "best" choice, it is about where you will be able to focus the most, and where you will be able to let the words in that you are learning and allow them to change and shape you.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/
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