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A Review of Athabasca University

  1. Feb 3, 2015 #1

    I want to study physics. I live in U. S. and happen to be quadriplegic, so can’t attend a regular university. After doing extensive research into online schools, I finally found Athabasca University. They seemed promising because they mail out lab kits for their physics courses.

    Well, I naïvely enrolled in PHYS204 – Physics for Scientists and Engineers I. It’s a calculus-based course that covers basic mechanics.

    Wow, was I disappointed! First, I was all alone; there are student forums for the class, but no one has used them: nary a post. I can handle being just a number but, second, my assignments were harshly (sometimes even incorrectly) graded. For example, I misplaced one number in a vector, losing six points (I received 94/100). Lastly, I emailed the department head about my grades – no reply!

    I will never take another course at that so-called university.

    Sorry for the Rant,

    Dean Sparrow
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2015 #2
    This may be a silly question, and I promise I mean no offense, but what is stopping you from attending a regular university? I understand if it is personal preference and would support that, but I'm just curious, as in my Physics I class (basically the class you took), there was also a quadriplegic. His aide (maybe a family member, I don't know) would come to class with him and take notes for him. I don't know for sure, but I believe the professor also gave him oral exams.

    If you really want to study physics, your best bet is to stay away from "online universities". That's also true in general :)
  4. Feb 4, 2015 #3
    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, I have ALS and unlike Stephan Hawking I'm "frozen" in a straight position, unable to use a wheelchair. Further, I depend on a ventilator.

    I commend your former classmate - go quads!
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2015
  5. Apr 14, 2015 #4
    how hard was this course? did it require a lot of work? how hard was the exam? how much did you study and what did you get?
  6. Apr 21, 2015 #5
    Hi Dean,

    After reading the comment I was greatly disturbed because at AU we always aim for quality course material and professional service to our students. The University adopts the continuous enrolment model which gives students the flexibility of starting the course at the beginning of any month during the year. Each student is given a maximum period of 6 months to complete the course, with no minimum time. This means that most students are at different levels of progress in the course. Therefore, students find it more effective to communicate directly with their assigned tutors for any question or additional explanation. The course material are also designed to be suitable for independent study.

    All communications and concerns from students are always taken seriously and are normally processed in a timely manner. Most of our students who make the effort to complete an AU physics course, do so successfully. The physics courses are rated positively by our students, which is also reflected in increased registrations. One of our courses (PHYS 200) actually made it to the list of high enrolment courses at the University.

    The hands-on home lab component is particularly an attractive feature of AU physics courses. It consists of 6-7 lab experiments performed at the convenience of the student's home, using a lab kit borrowed from the University. The lab experiments are of high quality and utilizes modern devices and up-to-date software for data collection and analysis.

    Please accept my sincere regards and best wishes in your future endeavors!

    Truly yours
    Farook Al-Shamali
    Physics Coordinator (Athabasca University)
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