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Athabasca University

Survival Skills

Whether you are beginning your first Athabasca University course or are an experienced distance education student, you may find the following tips helpful in learning to make efficient and effective use of your study time.

  • Stagger your courses
    • If you are working and/or have family commitments full-time, do no start more than one course at a time
    • Spread out course start dates for new courses by one to three months (this gives you time to “get a handle” on one course before starting another)
  • Ensure you receive all your course materials
    • Compare the list on the packing slip to the materials you've received in your course package
    • Read your Student Manual carefully before beginning
  • Call your tutor early in your course
    • Your tutor is a valuable resource, facilitator, and supporter of your learning
    • Tutors can help you decide how to pace the course
    • They can give you hints about proceeding with the first unit
    • Regular contact with your tutor is very beneficial
  • Pace yourself properly
    • Do not try to force a six-month, three-credit course into two months
    • Ensure you give yourself time to think about and integrate what you are learning
    • Give yourself enough time so that learning is pleasurable
    • If you try to complete a course too quickly, you may experience frustration caused by tutor limitations, mail delays, and other bureaucratic tangles
    • If you procrastinate in your studies and your assignments/exams, you will hurt your learning and your tutor may not be able to provide the assistance and feedback that you need
  • Find a study partner
    • The Students' Union can help you find another student to partner with
  • Recognize that courses and tutors' styles will vary from course to course
    • Course materials from one course to another vary greatly in their design and presentation
    • Tutors, too, have different personalities and facilitation/teaching styles
    • If you have difficulty with a course or tutor, contact the course coordinator. He/she will discuss your concerns and may assign a different tutor.
  • If you experience some personal barriers with your education
    • Study skills workshops and individual coaching is available either at a distance or in person at the Edmonton or Calgary Learning Centres
    • You can access self-help resources from the Counselling Services web site.
    • For counselling services, please call 1-800-788-9041 ext. 6723 (Canada/U.S.) or 780-675-6723 or send an e-mail to

Updated February 18 2016 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.