It is important for all potential students to start preparing as early as possible for tertiary education. The better prepared you are for tertiary education the more likely you will be able to cope with the new setting, enjoy the change, make stronger connections with new peers and educators, be successful in your studies, and achieve better results.
Early preparation can include career planning, choosing course and study options, understanding the requirements of post-secondary education and training, identifying the support you may need and knowing how to access this support.
If you are still in school, it is never too early to start planning. Some universities and TAFEs now work within schools, even primary schools, to help students with disability actively consider and prepare for post-secondary education or training. It can also be useful to understand the differences between school, university and TAFE course expectations and requirements.
Tips for tertiary
There are many things to take into account, and plenty of practical steps that you can take to ensure that you are fully prepared to take the next step in your education.
Here are some early considerations:
- Identify and manage your own expectations to help you meet your goals and support your success. This process can and should begin in the preparation for study stage and you should review your progress regularly.
- Consider the investment of your time. The expectation for most students is an investment of two to five years to earn a specific qualification before transitioning into employment after graduation. In some students’ lives, however, the reality does not match the expectation. This may be because of existing life/work/study activities such as disability, family responsibilities, studying part-time, existing work commitments, caring for others and so on.
- Prepare for the unexpected. As a student with disability and/or medical condition, you may experience some setbacks or difficulties along your path. These ‘speed humps’ may include time off studies for ill health, hospitalisation or medical treatment, and/or stress and anxiety (which may or may not be related directly to your disability).
- Be adaptable. Your study schedule may not always follow a straightforward, sequential pathway, and you may need to incorporate changes to your plan. These changes may involve an alteration to your mode of study, type of academic/study-related adjustment, timeline for course completion, and your personal and career goals.
- Be flexible. Allow copious amounts of flexibility and be kind to yourself.
Making contact with disability services and access plans
One of the most important things to consider early on is making contact with the disability or accessibility support services at your education provider.
As a student with disability, you have the right to access and participate in education and training in the same way as any other students. This right is protected under the Disability Discrimination Act and all education and training service providers are required to uphold this right. To this end you may require some study related reasonable adjustments or supports to assist you with your post-secondary education or training.
Most providers will have a disability practitioner or disability service areas to assist you with information on supports and develop an access plan (often also known as a Learning Access Plan (LAP) or Integration Plan) that will outline the reasonable adjustments and support to assist you participate in your studies. Find out more about access plans
If you are a NDIS client then the NDIS Pre-planning Toolkit is for people with disability entering tertiary education or training and is designed to be used before you start your study or training activities.
Your disability may mean you require extra support to complete your chosen course to ensure your participation is on the same basis as other students. These booklets will help you identify what supports you may need, who is responsible for providing them and how you can access them.