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Athabasca University

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Athabasca University Reviews:

Disappointing for the price

Computing and Info Systems - September 7, 2016
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For an online course this is nothing less than a travesty in design. Read a mediocre FREE textbook, do some random questions as two or three assignments, receive no feedback through all of this, write an exam. Rinse and repeat. If you're after learning, skip AU, buy a QUALITY textbook and find an on-line community to guide you through it. You will be better off (and have saved yourself $700). If you need that piece of paper saying you took a course, well, there are no other on-line options in Canada so suck it up and just accept that you'll have to do this. It counts. You'll learn SOMETHING. But, you'll be left shaking your head. So far I've taken three courses and they've been getting worse and worse. COMP200 was acceptable though uninspired. COMP268 Java was mediocre, at best and COMP272 Data Structures (& Algorithms) was downright terrible. Don't get me wrong. I'm a self-starter, capable of self-motivating even through the toughest and driest material. These courses are not exactly tough, but, they are beyond dry and designed to fail. To give you a sense of my background: I have a multiple non-trivial degrees and a decade of experience as a (well paid) professional. I've taken great (free) on-line courses in recent years. That was not the Athabasca experience. Essentially what the course "developer" did was take a textbook and turn the chapters into the course. It's a money making operation. They paid some poor soul a pittance to copy the textbook chapters and borrow assignments from other universities (which they don't update... plagiarism must be a HUGE problem with these AU courses). Many on-line and regular computer science courses have practice assignments whereby you run your programs through an on-line testing interface to confirm that what you've done is correct. You'd think that an on-line course would make extensive use of such an interface. No such luck. You can hand in non-functional programs at AU and get full credit for an assignment. You also can't get feedback on practice programs. The course advisors simply don't have time. The only thing they get paid for (poorly) is to mark items and occasionally respond to queries. Hard these courses are not. To be honest, I am shocked, truly shocked that these courses qualify as accredited. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if an audit of these computer science courses (at least COMP 272 and 268) would rovoke their accreditation.

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful

So Far so Good

Computing and Info Systems - June 29, 2016
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Just wanted to give my 2 cents. I'm going on my second year at Athabasca University. I have two kids and a full time job and I wasn't ready/couldn't afford to just quit my job and study so Athabasca was my option. After seeing a lot of the negative reviews on here I just wanted to give my personal experience. My experience has been overall a positive one. The courses are hard, I'm on student loans so I get 4 months to finish my courses instead of the 6. I still have so far always finished my courses in time, and so far I have never paid for a rewrite of a test or an extension. The courses I find them very difficult in general. Expect to be challenged extremely hard and to give 100% to finish your classes on time, sometimes you might even have to book some days off work near your end date to finish everything. I can see why some people would be frustrated with these courses. You need to have common sense and strong learning skills to succeed. There is two things with the negative reviews I can agree on is that you won't get a lot of help from your teachers. I asked for help less than a handful of times and I didn't really get much, so now when I take my courses I don't ask for help and do it 100% myself. The second thing with the negative review I can agree on is that some teachers do mark pretty hard and don't give a lot of feedback, but I would say with my personal experience this would be about or less than 1/3 of my teachers so far. Overall the advantage of not having to commute to school and between classes, being able to work full time and study from my house, I would say that I love Athabasca University. If you are not a self starter and a good problem solver I wouldn't recommend it, because so far finishing some of my classes on time with a passing grade has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful

Hit and Miss

Computing and Info Systems - December 28, 2015
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AU's C++ (that's a computer programming language) is incredibly awful, it's painfully obvious that the guy who wrote it did no more than copy a few references from the text into their course delivery system. And I was really, really floored when the bulk of the exam was LITERALLY an exact copy of one of the homework projects (surely this is not normal. I have never seen it before). When I complained about this, it was clear that AU Admin could not care less. This bothered me more than the poor course itself. So, I am more-or-less set against AU, from this experience. To be fair, I took two other courses from them also, and they were ... OK. I would say, I learned quite a bit and the delivery was OK. I really like the way their web site and system is setup and administratively, everything was good. The cost seems crazily high, but it's comparable to TRU and other unis, and much less than some American unis. However, I was so turned off by C++ that I'm kind of scared to try another one. Also: I find it kind of amazing that AU (and most likely other unis) are SO FAR BEHIND places like Coursera and Udacity in terms of providing videos and proper course notes (though this varies). Really, the ONLY reason I'd use AU, etc. over the MOOC's is the piece of paper. And that's pretty sad, that (in many cases) the unis aren't even trying to update themselves. I can't wait for the day Coursera/Udacity are as recognized as the unis are.

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful

Not as good as 5 years ago - Poor recent experience

Computing and Info Systems - March 14, 2015
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I already have two degrees from a bricks and mortar university, and I've been taking courses at Athabasca University for about 5 years now. Over the course of the 5 years, I can say the courses have been deteriorating in quality. I believe Athabasca has become complacent. The most recent course I took was terrible. COMP200 was poorly organized and the technology aspects were laughable. I went through the proper channels to try to get some things changed, including having almost no links in the teaching material that were not dead, and including adding Sticky Topics to the forum to assist students, but absolutely no changes were made in the 6 months.They are sympathetic at the administration level, but have no power to get things changed. They are aware there are issues. In addition, they have changed the tutor model, so that you submit a ticket to a central processing group, and then it gets farmed out to mostly the same tutor, but not always. In other words, you don't have any continuity with your assistance - typically you have to wait two days for a response. Not ok when you're stuck with a problem in your coding. And good luck if the tutor's answer was not clear, and then you have to ask for clarification - another two days goes by. Students end up using each other for assistance, which is difficult because you're not supposed to post much of your code. Frustrating, so say the least. The final exam did not reflect the course material (I'm an A++ student and got C- on the final - I am well versed in getting A+ marks, so it wasn't my studying or abilities.) There were errors in the practice exam material (math errors) as well - you just have to wonder whether there were errors in the final - but no feedback, of course. I'm a pretty positive person, but having taken 6 Athabasca courses now, and have noticed a definite slide in the quality of the courses as well as the quality and availability of tutor help. I spoke with a tutor and he was very bitter about the model, saying they only get paid now if they work with a student. No tutors were on the forum - it was the blind leading the blind where students were doing their best to help other students. I was shocked at how poorly the whole course was run. I would not recommend Athabasca, and I am researching another online university to take my Computer Science Certificate from.

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful

My AU Experience

Computing and Info Systems - May 20, 2013
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I am an alum in the Bachelor of Science - Computing and Information Systems program. I finished my degree in 2003 and completed roughly 30 courses through AU. Since graduation I now work as a senior software engineer in Dallas, Texas. I was accepted and completed a Masters degree at Texas Tech University in Systems Engineering and are currently in the last phase of my Ph.D. at Texas Tech University in Systems Engineering. Where did my AU degree get me? To the very top of a tier one institution in the United States and to a profession that allows me to provide very well for my family. My course work at AU was exceptional. That being said AU is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for the lazy. You will get exactly what you put into your studies. Would I do it again? Oh yeah and much sooner. Take it from an alum who is giving it to you straight.

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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful

Pretty good program - challenging material

Computing and Info Systems - May 20, 2013
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In the process of completing my degree. It IS hard to learn on your own, but the tutors have been very helpful with any questions I have. In courses I studied for and applied myself, no mark lower than an A. In courses I slacked off in, or was too busy with work to put in a lot of effort, I didn't do too well, which is what I expected.

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful

Exceptional Computer Science Program

Computing and Info Systems - July 17, 2012
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I graduated with my B.Sc. in Computing and Information Systems in 2011. My experience with Athabasca University was outstanding, and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going through school in a non-traditional manner. If you're not a self-starter, it's not for you. On the other hand, if you don't need someone spoon-feeding you, then this program will be delightfully refreshing for you. I enjoyed setting my own study times, going through materials at my own pace, and speaking with tutors as needed. The instructors and tutors are great group of people. Most of the ones that I interacted with over the course of my 4 years at Athabasca were Ph.D. level professionals with extensive industry experience. The knowledge that I picked up from them has been invaluable in the workplace. It was not difficult for me to get a software development job following graduation, as Athabasca is a highly respectable institution. Unlike the other online degree mills out there, AU is fully accredited in both Canada and the US. I am so glad that I chose to study at AU.

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful

Non-Directional and a Horrible Experience

Computing and Info Systems - April 19, 2011
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I do not recommend this program to a beginner programmer who is interested in learning programming, it is quite implausible. I am a graduate from George Brown with a diploma in electrical and mechanical engineering and thought I would step it up to a degree in the BSc CIS [PD] program at Athabasca. I was granted 60 block, however, I only finished two courses and now currently attending a 'REAL' university with 'REAL' teachers and a 'REAL' curriculum. Footnote - I asked a professor from York University if the 'COMP' curriculum I was taking was that of a normal IT program at York, He said it was at least 3 course in one! and YES, I needed that professor from York who was my 'REAL' tutor at an extra cost because of the lack of support I receiving.

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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful

Athabasca - A blight on the landscape

Computing and Info Systems - April 2, 2011
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Athabasca University is a travesty. Its adminsitration is hidebound, sclerotic and beholden to unions (firmly) intellectually lodged in 1970. Its academic staff have little or no interest in the students. I have completed many courses there but have now transferred to a far superior online school - Excelsior College. I will graduate from Excelsior with one degree in August 2011 and another in June of 2012. I would urge anyone looking at Athabasca to consider finding a real school somewhere else. Athabasca credits are cheap for a reason - don't be afraid to pay for something better somewhere else. EXCELSIOR!

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2 of 15 people found the following review helpful

What a joke

Computing and Info Systems - December 22, 2010
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Avoid at all costs. The materials are erroneous, the assignments dont relate to exams at all. The tutor quality varies greatly. Some of the tutors do not respond to emails/phone calls at all, the marking is widely inconsistent, everyone does things their own way.

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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful

Money printing press

Computing and Info Systems - August 25, 2010
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I took both COMP501 and COMP503, two masters-level courses. Here are my experiences: There are no lectures. You're basically mailed a textbook and expected to read it and complete whatever work exists on your own. The discussion forums were useful in COMP501 where a mark was assigned for participation, but completely useless in COMP503. The professor in COMP503 provided one-line responses to my emails containing detailed questions. This is unacceptable when the professors provide no other contact with the students. The courses cost more than traditional in-class courses, yet there's close to no support whatsoever. If you need a piece of paper, maybe this program is worthwhile. But if you just want to learn the material, I'd suggest looking at the textbook list and doing it on your own.

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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful

Unprofessional school

Computing and Info Systems - December 12, 2009
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I have found the course instructors to be overly resistant to updating course material. For example, I was doing an assignment and there was a blatant error in the instructions. It was in either COMP 272 or COMP 268, I can't remember which. Fine... someone made an error in the assignment, that's okay, we're all human. I went to the course's student forum to see what others had done about the error, only to find that students had been complaining about the error FOR YEARS. YEARS! All someone had to do was to make a little change to the content of a webpage. Instead every student in that time had to stumble over the same error. To me this is negligence. That's not the only time I experienced something like that either. I feel like they set up this course years ago and now they are just sitting back, letting the money roll in, and getting students in an out with as little work as possible. Most of the correspondence I had with the instructors was through e-mail, and I found that the instructors are ruder than they would perhaps be in person. I pay good money, about $700 per course, and I expect more than that. This school is unprofessional.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful

Computing and Info Systems

Computing and Info Systems - June 8, 2007
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I just graduated from the Computing and Info systems bachelors degree and it was a very very challenging program. Overall I give this University 4.5 stars out of 5. This is a real university that is dedicated to online programs. I was challenged with the material and the course selection was great. I was encouraged to use the latest software in the assignments and certain courses like the semantic web including such concepts as RDF, XML etc were cutting edge. Overall a great value for the time and money.

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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful


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