I initially became interested in Athabasca University (AU) because of my desire to pursue a career as a healthcare professional.
My experiences completing high school chemistry through Alberta Distance Learning Centre inspired me to look closer at the Bachelor of Science (BSc) program offered at Athabasca University (AU) and explore the idea of completing the necessary prerequisites in a self-directed fashion.
A direction with purpose
AU allowed me to explore areas of interest with a directed purpose, focusing on skills and expertise that would allow me to excel in a healthcare profession. Earning a BSc through AU meant that I could schedule my academic and employment responsibilities around one another quite easily.
It helped me to refine my learning and teaching strategies and improve my time-management skills. It was also during my studies with AU that I gained first-hand exposure to scientific research and developed relationships that inspired two research projects in nutrition and microbiology. I am confident that AU has prepared me for further study in the health sciences and I am happy to report that I have been accepted to the Doctor of Optometry program at the University of Waterloo.
“I am confident that AU has prepared me for further study in the health sciences and I am happy to report that I have been accepted to the Doctor of Optometry program at the University of Waterloo. ”
A pliable timetable
The reason I was able to excel in my studies with AU is that the course schedule was so flexible. As long as I completed the assignments and exams within the course contracts, I would fulfill the requirements for each course. I was able to earn top marks on my assignments because of the extra time available for revision, and I inevitably caught more errors and made improvements as a result. This simply would not have been possible at a traditional university, which employ strict timetables and deadlines for assignments. Students are often forced to submit their work before they able to perform a thorough revision.
The ability to schedule my own midterm and final exams also allowed me to earn higher scores than I believe would have been possible at a traditional university. Typically, final exams are scheduled in the last month of courses and students have no control over when exams take place. This means that they may have five or more exams over a period of one to two weeks, and some may even have two to three exams on one day! This uncertainty and compressed schedule means that students are less likely to succeed, and the reasons for this are completely out of their control.
In contrast, with AU I was able to spread my final exams over a period of four to five weeks, allowing me to take one exam per week. I did not have to worry about having to cram information in a limited amount of time or suffer from interference due to studying material from several courses at once.
A rewarding experience
Overall, I am incredibly satisfied with my experience at AU. The program gave me exactly the information and credentials I desired and it ended-up being of a far better quality than what I was expecting to receive from comparable programs at other Canadian universities. All of my experiences with the staff at AU have been phenomenal and several faculty members have gone out of their way to provide me with opportunities and support me in achieving my goals.
My personal journey landed me here, at AU, but it certainly doesn’t stop now. My future is looking bright and I have aspirations of becoming a doctor, a teacher, a businessman, an advocate, and, ultimately, someone who can effect positive change in my community. All of this would not have been possible if not for AU.
Chris Workman is a student in the Doctor of Optometry program at University of Waterloo. He got his academic start in distance-learning during high school, and chose Athabasca University for his undergraduate degree because of the flexibility AU programs offer. He continues to work toward his goal of making a positive impact on the world around him.