Kickstart your return to study

Learn how to kickstart your return to study, from getting recognition for your current skills to improving your study skills.

How do you get started
An extremely helpful guide to returning to study can be located on the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre website, under the library section. Titled Back to the books, it explores all major issues relevant to recommencing your education. This information is helpful for students in all states. Work out also how you are approaching your course decision – are you starting with the subject, reviewing available courses, and arriving at your choice of institution? This may be fine, but if your learning is vocationally motivated, consider talking to a careers counsellor, and working backwards to find the course most suited for that career qualification. The core subject may be the same, but the course suggested may well vary.

More assistance is available from the ‘Ten Fields’ tab on the Which Course, Which University section of the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs website. Here students can access what’s on offer, as well as how previous graduates graded the course content and delivery, and what their job success rate was.

Having chosen your preferred program of study, and hopefully attended an open day to confirm whether the institution is suitable, you will need to check your eligibility. This can be done directly with the chosen institution. If you find your qualifications are not sufficient for your desired course, don’t despair. Talk to someone in the registrar’s office or the faculty, and see if it is possible to gain entry using a mature-age or discretionary clause. If not, find out specifically the subjects/qualifications you are lacking, and compare these requirements with a similar course elsewhere.

Click NEXT to get recognition for prior learning and skills and learn to improve your study habits If you’ve already learnt it, grab the pass 
Always ask about RPLs (Recognition for Prior Learning). Particularly within the TAFE environment, many skills you take for granted (word processing, database management, technical knowledge) are subjects with points which can be accredited merely by applying and proving you already have the skills or experience in the specific discipline. In some cases you may acquire two or three subject passes simply by filling in the application.

Getting back into study and study habits
It’s all very well to enrol for a course; choosing subjects, getting the textbooks and even the stationary can be really exciting and tangible evidence that you are, at last, on your way! But sometimes after three or four weeks of study the merde hits the fan, and you find your initial enthusiasm waning as the assignments pile up, and your attitude sinks like the sun in the west. Hopefully this is just a reality check, and you are in the right course. Your workload might be too high, your self-discipline may need some tweaking, or you are just taking time to readjust. At this stage you might benefit from some assistance with your study habits. Planning is the key – along with the removal of distractions. It may be time for the awful reality of giving up something you love doing. You might also need to hone your time-management skills – it is quite likely such skills are taught within the learning centre you are attending. If you are really struggling, it’s time to seek assistance from the student counselling service. This is not an admission of defeat or a particularly nerdy thing to do. It’s just commonsense to attack these problems before you lose momentum.

Try not to be a try-hard – high distinctions are very nice, but not if, in striving for the top marks, you miss all the scenery along the way. Are you there to learn, or do well?

More information
Reprinted with permission from chapter nine of Get a new life by Kaye Fallick
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Written by Kaye Fallick