University

Athabasca University: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more

Brittany Daigle, 27
Science

Brittany Daigle (Courtesy of Brittany Daigle)

Why did you choose Athabasca?
Choosing Athabasca was an easy decision for me. AU is an online university, which means all your coursework can be done online, on your own schedule, at your own pace and from anywhere in Canada or around the world. There are no due dates and no pre-scheduled exams, and you can take your exams from home. Athabasca University is great for students who work, care for dependents or live in rural areas.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
One of my best experiences was writing for The Voice magazine, a publication of the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU). If you enjoy writing and want to make a little money on the side, I highly recommend submitting a piece to the editor. Another great experience was being elected to AUSU’s council and then being elected as the vice-president of finance and administration. I had the opportunity to advocate for students, attend AU faculty meetings and travel to Alberta (I live in Ontario) for AUSU’s executive retreat.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
Since AU is completely online, the typical university extracurriculars are not available. But there are still ways that you can be involved with the university and hang out with fellow AU students. For example, the student union regularly hosts AUSU nights, a virtual social where you can meet and play games with other students.

What do you think of your professors?
In my experience, Athabasca University’s course coordinators, academic experts and tutors have all been extremely responsive and supportive. Some students choose to do their coursework independently without ever contacting their assigned academic experts or tutors, but I strongly encourage you to at least introduce yourself to them at the start of a course in case you need to reach out later.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
It is very easy to sign up for classes at AU. You register for a given class by the 10th of the month to start on the 1st of the upcoming month. Over the days leading up to the 1st, you arrange to have textbooks shipped to you (or e-textbooks assigned to you), and you are assigned to an academic expert or tutor for the course.

What is off-campus life like in Athabasca?
Our off-campus life and community are established through social media. Students are always connecting through AUSU’s mobile app, and many arrange local meetups or form in-person or virtual study groups.

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

If I wrote the school motto: ‘Students united by distance’
Best place to live: Wherever you want. I have classmates who live all over Canada and the world.
Best place to study: At your local library. It helps if it has free Wi-Fi.
Best campus events: Graduation
Weirdest tradition: You generally meet your classmates for the first time at graduation
Best giveaway: Athabasca University or Athabasca University Students’ Union swag
Best place for a nap: Your couch after a long study session
The thing that surprised me most about the school: How easy it is to travel or move without disrupting your studies
If I could change one thing about the school: It would be nice to have more in-person events or some live online lectures

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