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Transitioning from School to Further Study or Training

Key points

  • University, college or TAFE is different to high school - you will need to be independent in your learning. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. 
  • You can ask your lecturer/tutor, or contact Student Services. 

What to expect 

Studying at university, college, or TAFE is very different from going to high school. You may be studying alongside people who are different ages – from adolescent school leavers to mature-aged students (some are even as old as your parents!). Teachers are called ‘lecturers’; ‘tutors’; or professors, and it’s usually OK to call them by their first names. There are also different study options, such as attending full-time, part-time, and studying on campus or taking online classes.

You’ll be expected to take more responsibility for your learning, including attending classes; reviewing what you learned in class and following up with your lecturer/tutor if you have any questions; completing assignments; and studying for tests or exams. Don’t worry though – there are people at university, college, and TAFE who can help you, especially if you start to feel overwhelmed! To get help, you can:

  • Ask your lecturer/tutor – make an appointment to see them to discuss what help you need. Email is usually the best way to make an appointment.
  • Visit the library on campus – there is usually a Help Desk where you can get assistance with finding books and other learning resources, and where and how to photocopy and print.
  • Contact your Student Services to see if there are student peer mentors, or other support services available

Some students who are in their second or later years of their course volunteer as a student mentor, to provide support to new students. They take on a ‘buddy’ role and share valuable information about where to get good food and coffee on campus, how to find second-hand textbooks, as well as study tips including how to manage your workload to make sure you get assignments in one time.

  • Make an appointment to see the campus counselling service. Most universities, colleges, and TAFEs in Australia provide free (or low cost) personal counselling services for students who are experiencing anxiety or other mental health issues.

How to prepare 

To help with the transition between high school and post-school education or training, you might like to:

  • visit Open Day at the different university or TAFE campuses while you’re still in high school. Many provide campus tours of the main facilities. When they arrive, Open Day visitors are given a map of the campus with information about when and where activities will be located. Open Days may be loud (especially if there is live music) and there can be lots of people attending. Arriving at the very beginning or later in the day can help you avoid being overwhelmed by noise or crowded spaces. Bring along headphones and any other things you might need to help you manage the environment.
  • contact Student Services at the university, college, or TAFE to ask if they can assist you with the transition
  • find out if and when Orientation Day (or Orientation Week) is held at the university, college or TAFE. Many campuses have orientation activities in the week before classes begin in each semester. These activities include meeting the teaching staff in your course, meeting other students in your course, fun activities on campus including games, music, and food events, and signing up to ‘clubs’ for a range of recreation, sports, and other interests.

Tips and info

  • For more tips, Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training has developed a comprehensive resource specifically for autistic people transitioning to post-school education. It includes information, student stories, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), worksheets, and links to more resources.

myWAY Employability is an initiative of the Autism CRC, which receives funding from the Australian Government

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