I have been taking distance education classes through Athabasca University for the last year and am working on my Bachelor’s of Science. I chose Athabasca because I have a family, full time employment, and often moonlight as a software developer for smaller businesses. As you can imagine, I have a very tight restraint on my time and don’t have the time to attend classes during only the day and travel to another city.
I found a few of the courses so far to be really challenging, because I didn’t really dedicate enough time to the one course. Make sure that you really have the dedication, and make the time to work on the courses because they are real courses and will take a lot of time. I can say without a doubt that I averaged two to three hours of studying each day for one or two courses along with several more hours each work for lab work.
I found the student handbooks to be more than sufficient for my needs, along with a lot of the suggested readings and links on the internet. I did find a few invalid links on the library site, but those were quickly resolved when reported. The handbooks are very well written, some of the questions in a few of the courses could have been written better.
Staff appear to be very well educated, many that I have dealt with have a MSc or PhD and are generally very available. One tutor was fairly slow to respond to emails, so I made sure to instead use the toll free number and call him. If you can’t work out those situations and resolve things on your own, probably you shouldn’t be attending university in the 1st place, and certainly you should not be looking at distance education.
Athabasca University is expensive for distance education, books and most materials are generally included with each of the courses although the exam proctoring will cost you more additional money. The courses are reputable and transferable to pretty much any school in Canada if you decide to finish your degree elsewhere or use it for graduate studies.
I’ll be finishing my degree at AU in the near future and plan to pursue my graduate degree also from them.