Athabasca University: student life on campus

An insider’s guide to life on a virtual campus

Brittany Daigle
Athabasca University students at convocation

(Kelsey McMillan/Athabasca University)

The 411

As a student of an online university, your campus experience is a virtual one, and you get to enjoy all the benefits of living at home.

Best place for a nap:
Your couch
Best cheap lunch:
Wendy’s for their Everyday Value Menu
Where to live:
I have classmates who are living in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia—and even Africa
Weirdest school tradition:
You generally meet your university friends for the first time at graduation
Best place to study:
At your local library. It helps if it has free Wi-Fi.
Worst place to study:
In front of whatever Netflix series you are currently binge-watching
Best campus event:
If I wrote the school motto:
“Students united by distance”
What surprised me most about the school:
How easy it was to be in complete control of my education
If I could change one thing about the school:
It would be nice to have an AU campus in every major city

PROFILE: Athabasca University | Athabasca, Alta. | Founded 1970

If you are looking for a unique educational experience, Athabasca University is definitely your school. AU is a dedicated open, online university, meaning that as long as you are 16 or older, you will be accepted as a student. All your work can be done online, on your own schedule, from anywhere in Canada or around the world.

Having no due dates, no scheduled exams and being able to work from home while wearing pyjamas may seem tempting. But this university is not for everyone. To be an AU student, you must be self-disciplined and motivated. Students learn the majority of their class material independently and must complete assignments regularly. You can book exams when you feel ready, provided you do so by the course end date. Athabasca University is particularly great for students who work full- or part-time, care for dependents or live in rural areas. But it’s also good for anyone who is a motivated, organized and independent learner who wants to have full control over their education.

After Class
There are still plenty of ways you can get involved at AU, despite it being an online university. You can run for student council, get paid to write articles for the student union’s magazine, interact with other students through the AU students’ mobile app, or attend meet-and-greet events across the country. Some students use the app or social media to meet up with other students in their area and form study groups. Members of the student union also host occasional Facebook Live events, where they answer questions, talk about the different services that they offer and run contests to get students engaged with the university.

Local Vibe
Our community is established through social media. Students are constantly adding each other on social media, arranging to meet in person and forming study groups to help motivate each other. This university allows students to move to a different city, province or even country without it affecting your education.

More Info
The Athabasca University’s Students’ Union website is arguably the best resource for students. The Voice Magazine is AU’s student publication. It features articles on topics of interest to students, such as health, university tips and tricks, and affordable food; the “Course Exam” column provides insight into courses offered at AU.