Review Averages: 6.1 out of 10 (107 reviews)Athabasca University of Alberta, Canada was founded in 1970 by Alberta’s provincial government with the mandate to offer distance education to students aged 16 and older. This leader in online learning offers more than 70 programs in French and English to students worldwide. Individual and group learning formats are available.
Accreditation: Province of Alberta
Athabasca University Reviews:
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
So far so good...
August 20, 2012
Almost complete first year of my program. First off, in reading some other reviews I find it ironic that most of the people who give poor reviews cannot spell, and are complaining about the cost of course extensions, exam rewrites, etc. which tells me they failed or did not complete the courses within their contract dates. If you are self-directed, and responsible enough to set a schedule for yourself, you can do well. If you are one of the growing number of self-entitled whiners who wants to have their hand-held through life - find another school. In the contract you have 6 months to complete a course (4 months if you are getting financial aid), and you usually have your course material in hand 1-2 weeks early so you can start reading in advance. The textbook and the supporting website from the textbook publisher are usually the bulk of the course material. The actual AU course sites, at least for the courses I have taken so far, primarily detail readings, assignments, and sometimes expand or clarify material from the textbook. Some courses use discussion forums for student interaction, others do not. Overall the course sites are 'minimalist' do not expect 3d virtual streamed lectures or other bells and whistles. The tutors or call centres (depending on which faculty you are dealing with) have service standards for responding to emails, phone calls, and for assignment and exam marking. Most academic experts beat these standards at least 90% of the time. Like my brick & mortar university experience, the quality of feedback depends on the individual academic expert you are assigned to. If you have a complaint about marks there is a procedure for getting reassesed by a different marker - have not needed it yet. As far as cost, what is advertised on their webpage is what you pay - and they are very clear that you are responsible for examination fees, which you should shop around for if possible. Most 3 credit courses currently cost around $760 (nursing courses cost more) and include all your course materials (although I believe there is a surcharge for lab kits for a few specific courses). You live at home, so there is no commuting, residence, or cafeteria costs. While the course is more expensive than the tuition at my previous brick & mortar school it is far cheaper (even with exam fees) than what I paid for residence, tuition, textbooks, meal plan, travel home on holidays, student union dues, and mandatory student health insurance. Approved exam invigilation centres set their own rates - The one I use is flat rate $50.00 per exam - some I looked at charge hourly fees which can add up during a three hour exam. All courses have a final exam, and many have a midterm so plan on $100 extra per course. Overall, I am happier with Athabasca than I was at the brick & mortar institute who was nickel & diming me to death with fees, who deflated marks by marking on a curve, where the TA's provided no more feedback than the Academic Experts AU assigns, and where I had to learn on the prof's schedule not my own. The only things I miss about my previous institution is connecting with classmates... and pub night.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
January 9, 2013
I've been reading some of the previous reviews and it's clear some of these have been written out of anger and frustration. I'm going to be as honest as humanly possible here: Background: I'm an Alberta resident, never attended post secondary before, had pretty horrible high school grades and finally decided to go back to school and pursue a degree. Courses: Most courses are extremely well laid out. All of the business courses that i'm taking (from finance to business writing, etc.) have an extremely easy to use computer system. As long as you FOLLOW the program to a T, you can't go wrong. From what I can tell, these systems are tried and tested and the genuinely work. There's a couple of courses I've come across (electives in Health) that don't have a lot of "online learning" sources but they provide you with all of the hard-copy materials you need. The courses are approximately $660 each and as long as you are within range of a campus, you never have to pay for exams. If you're out in the boonies or no where near an Athabasca campus, the invigilator that you request (alternative uni or college) will charge you a fee...this is not Athabasca's fee, no one's gonna run your exam for free especially if you're not their student. Support: Student support has been amazing so far. If I've ever had questions, all I do is email and I'll have an answer by the next day at the latest. There are student forums available for each course so if you need an answer right away on a specific problem, 99% of the time, someone else has previously asked that question and it's been answered...you can simply search the forums by keywords. If it's not the profs helping, the people at the student support centre have been amazing and extremely knowledgeable. I had no idea what I was walking into when I started all of this and to be honest, they're the only university that didn't treat me like a complete moron when I asked basic questions about the programs. Financial Aid: I had to get financial aid for everything. I'm not working, and Linda in the financial aid department assisted me with the whole process. She was very prompt in her responses and I was never left hanging (contrary to previous posts). My suggestions: Be prepared, this isn't high school, they're not going to hold your hand. You need to take responsibility for doing a lot of your own research and if you're asking your profs for answers to questions on assignments...don't be surprised if you don't get one. They've always been great and showing me HOW to find an answer rather than handing it to me, which I feel is what a lot of students are looking for. Set up a study schedule, especially if you're on financial aid. If you are "self funded", you will have 6 months to complete your courses; if you are using financial aid, you have 4 months to complete them. All of the sample study guides that you are provided with are usually for 6 months. Take the time to create a 4 month study schedule for yourself (which student support can help you with organizing if necessary). Like I said, this is the honest truth from a current AU student, been out of school for almost 10 years and I currently have a 4.0 average, what does that tell you? It's not the profs that made this happen, but I was provided with all the tools and resources I needed...you just have to be wise enough to use them all and not let yourself get overwhelmed. I hope this helps those of you that were on the fence about AU, JUST DO IT. You won't regret it.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic University, for MATURE learners
May 3, 2012
I just finished my MBA with AU. It is far harder than a conventional university. I have two other degrees from a classroom setting, from good schools, and the MBA program demands are not light. It is however, a very enjoyable program. I truly enjoyed all courses, and yes, I had the one eventual weak prof here and there, but overall, all profs are very competent, and highly educated. I think that the most important advice for AU's prospect students is: if you are lazy, if you like to have things done "for you", don't bother. AU MBA offers a mature environment, for MATURE learners. It is not about "doing yourself" as the support is incredible, but it is about "thinking for yourself". Nobody is there to tell you what to do (although the MBA program will provide you with a detailed agenda, ahead of time, on what to do in each course). You either do it seriously, or you might as well just save your money and time. If you want to "play along" and "piggyback", AU is not for you. Here you really have to work hard, and show that you do work hard.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HIGHLY EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS
March 22, 2013
To clear the air for those who are discouraging others with full-time jobs, I want to add my two cents. I am a mother of a two year old, I work full-time including overtime shifts. I have been enrolled in AU for 4 years, completing my four degree part-time; i am in my 3rd year.I am currently enrolled in various night courses to boot. That being said, I STILL have enough time to come home after work, eat dinner with my family, play with my daughter, and read stories. The cost of the education is sufficient when compared to other universities. Some universities cost $1000 per course, AU costs around $780, plus $15, to write the exam, and $40 to the in litigation centre I use. The cost is adequate. The reading files and assigned texts are relevant and very informant. I have never been in a position to complain about instructor response time. The longest I waited for a mark was three days, the longest i waited for a response for an urgent question, less than a couple hours. They are fantastic. AU is designed for mature students, who are willing to be disciplined in their studies. It is difficult, BUT it is doable.....just saying. Hope this helps!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Did BA at AU, now in MAIS
July 22, 2012
I completed my 4 year BA at Athabasca (with some course work done at the U of A as well) with a double major in sociology and psychology. Overall It was an excellent experience. I did have one poor tutor throughout the whole process but in my time at the U of A I discovered poor instructors also (as I imagine you can occassionally end up with at any school). The tutor I had issues with became much more responsive once tutor services were contacted as they dealt with the concern very promptly. There were some administrative issues towards the end of my degree where several of their senior level sociology courses were under renovations when I was completing my degree and needed to complete them, but they worked with me to ensure I worked things out. Apart from this unwelcome stress at the end of my degree, the experience was quite good. I also saw above a post referring to Jim Brophy, an instructor at AU. I had him for a course and found him to be excellent; he was passionate about his subject matter, interested in what I was planning for my final project and overall a great tutor who I would be happy to have had for multiple courses. I am now starting the MAIS program and am excited about taking it on. I hope to complete a phd in the future and hope that the MAIS degree will be a good stepping stone for further gradute studies.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Harvard Quality - Seriously Folks, No Graham Scam here
March 13, 2012
If you are looking for an easy way to earn some online credits, look away, Athabasca is NOT for you. This is NOT one of your scam Graham University schools that is just going to give you an A and pat you on the back: By far, Athabasca has offered me some of the most useful, most interesting and at the same time most challenging courses I have taken in my life. I have a Bachelors in Computer Science from University of Toronto, and wanted to get some business credits; so my first thought was to do an Online MBA from Graham (since it's very cheap). It turned out to be a huge mistake, since their courses are very basic aimed at making some easy cash. It's hard to get less than 90% from Graham, since what they offer is just scam. Athabasca on the other hand offers very informative courses, very knowledgeable instructors, and great quality course materials.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Positive Experience with AU
October 12, 2012
I have been with AU for my entire degree (a 4 year B.A.) and it was the best choice I ever made! I started straight out of high-school, but all my friends went to "traditional - classroom setting universities" and for years now I have heard the complaints of long wait-lists, long commutes, too big of class sizes, etc. and, thankfully, at AU you don't have to worry about that at all! One thing I find laughable is that other reviewers have said "they send us textbooks and we're supposed to do it on our own!?"....oh really? That's a big surprise to you!?! It's called distance education, people! What did you expect? A professor to hop out of your "course materials package"? Also, in my experience (as with others in more traditional schools), you'll get much more support from teachers if you communicate with them regularly. It's your education, so you have take some initiative. Having said that, I did have some profs. I wasn't too fond of, but ask any student at any university and I'm sure all of their teachers weren't rays of sunshine! AU has allowed me to have a very flexible school schedule, which has helped my work schedule and social life be flexible too. Basically, I create my own hours which is so nice. I do agree that it can be expensive and there is A LOT of work (most of which you will do on your own), but if I had to do it all again, I would without hesitation. Don't let the negative reviews about bad teachers/admin. or $$$ or whatever else scare you away...it's been almost 4 years at AU for me and I have no complaints :)
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
For Mature Students only
February 17, 2012
I recently completed two online courses at AU: BIOL204 and CHEM217. I decided to take these courses out of interest as I am a working High School Teacher. I only went as far as gr. 11 Biology and chemistry so I knew i had to be prepared and organized BIOL204 was mainly readings, two written assignments, 7 at-home labs, and two exams. I did not really speak with my tutor too often and just emailed. I had to re-write my first bio report as it was barely a pass. I took note of my tutor's feedback and scored 80% on the re-written report. The written assignments were not hard but information presented had to be detailed, exact, and with lots of examples. The labs were fun and did not take up a lot of time. The textbook plus assignments ( including assignments grouped by first name that i did not have to do but did anyways) provided enough info for the exams, but i also used random youtube lectures for extra understanding. My final course grade was an A-. I considered this an easy course and not very consuming. CHEM217 was definitely harder and more consuming. I felt like I was doing 2 courses in one. Each chapter included problem sets that needed to be worked through before progressing onwards. I was doing problem sets at least 4 days each week, about 4 to 6 per day. I scored well on the assignments but I got a lot of help from youtube lectures and online examples from various sources. My tutor helped with explaining assignment problems but I was not in contact with them that much. You definitely need to have a tutor available for chemistry. The home lab is requested after passing the first two assignments. I did not get my lab kit until late in my calendar which threw off my study schedule. The labs were very consuming. They took me at least 3 to 4 hours to do as they included additional problems that needed to be answered on top of the basic lab report. It normally took me about 2 days to finish each lab and submit the report. Since i received the lab kit late I was trying to do 10 labs plus problem sets and preparing for my final all in about 3 weeks. I thought both exams were very hard. I scored 68% on my mid-term and 64% on my final (however the marker's feedback for both exams was that I did well). Since I averaged an A on my assignments and A+ in my labs my final grade was a B. In conclusion, I enjoyed the courses because they were challenging and interesting. I felt like I pushed myself intellectually and feel that I can definitely push through academic obstacles. However doing these courses on your own, especially chemistry, requires commitment, organization, focus, and major problem solving skills. I knew that i was getting the basics when I was able to notify my tutor of several chemistry textbook mistakes in a few chapter examples. These were confirmed by him later. But this was after spending hours on these incorrect problems. You dont want to waste time trying to figure out a problem so contacting the tutor as soon as you can is the best thing to do. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out problems on my own. But i definitely would not have passed CHEM217 without using the internet as a resource for information, lectures, and problem examples. My BIOL204 marks were posted within the two week time frame but the chemistry marks took longer. I notified my tutor when they took too long to post and received them promptly(tutors do not mark exams only assignments). I cant say anything bad about AU. Distance education means you are doing it on your own so if you are well organized and committed you should do fine. If you get a bad tutor then try and get them to give feedback on assignments so you can tailor your results to fit their standards. I did that with my re-written BIO lab report and went from a 53% to an 80%. Chemistry was tough but I am proud that I was able to get through it and complete both courses. I am currently enrolled in BIOL205 and CHEM218. Wish me luck!! R
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Bachelor of Commerce
June 5, 2011
After reading some of the rants of former AU Students, I started to wonder if they were disappointed because AU is not as easy as they thought it would be. Kids... If you are used to mommy and daddy doing your laundry then distance education is not for you. It takes a lot of motivation, focus and hardwork. Yes, there are some profs who are useless or harsh markers but that is like any other uni. This is my 6th year with AU. 4 more courses and I am done!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Excellent in Education, Disappointing in Financial Aid Department
August 14, 2012
I'm in my final semester at Athabasca University and almost every class I have taken has been excellent and well structured. I found the tutors to be very knowledgeable and helpful. The times that found the most difficult and painful were when dealing with the financial aid advisers. After four years of dealing with them, I found nothing but difficultly and confusion. Whenever I emailed my adviser it would be responded to by a different adviser for two emails then she would forward it back to my adviser and I never know who to email to have something done. Second, they never sent on my information or intent to study to the student loan office without me sending two or three emails. Any email that I sent them was not responded to for at least 10-15 days if not longer. Super frustrating. I paid my last year myself just to avoid the mass of emails I would have had to send and the frustration with not having them responded to in a timely manner.
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