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Returning to study after a break away from the books may seem a bit daunting, but it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of people who return to study every year, and lots of reasons why some life experience can make you a better student.

Easing back into study after taking a break from school

Whether you spent a year (or more) backpacking through Europe, working in your first real job, or volunteering for a charity, it's no doubt provided you with a bunch of life experience. You've had to be organised and on time, manage your priorities, make tough decisions, ask for help, and learn to get along with people from different backgrounds. While you might not know it yet, all of these things will help you in your studies and will actually set you apart from the majority of students who come straight from high school with no life experience under their belt.

Does taking a gap year affect your ability to get into TAFE or uni?

One thing you might not have considered before you embarked on your gap year(s) is whether or not taking some time off from your studies will affect your ability to get into your preferred course. The good news is it doesn't.

If you only took a year or so off after you finished high school, you'll still follow the same process as the rest of your classmates and apply to study at TAFE or uni through QTAC (Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre). And just like everyone else, you'll receive offers based on your ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank). 

If you've taken a little more time off from your studies and are over the age of 21, you can apply to university as a mature-age student. That means you can apply directly without going through QTAC and without being assessed on your ATAR. You may still need to meet certain academic requirements such as prerequisites or completing Year 12 (or equivalent).  

If you're thinking of applying for a TAFE course you can also apply directly to TAFE Queensland as a school leaver or mature-age student. The good thing about TAFE Queensland is that for many courses there are few or no academic entry requirements, making it even easier for you to get started on your study journey. 

What is a tertiary preparation program?

It's good to know that taking a break from your studies won't impact your ability to get into your preferred course. But what if you never finished Year 12, didn't complete the required prerequisites, never got an ATAR, didn't get the entrance rank you needed, or just feel like your study skills are a bit rusty? That's where a university preparation course such as Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation (10765NAT) can help.

Designed for adult learners as a Year 12 alternative, a tertiary preparation course will: 

  • allow you to complete your Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE)
  • give you (or allow you to improve) your ATAR
  • allow you to complete uni prerequisites such as Year 12 English or maths
  • prepare you with essential study skills including time management, problem solving, research, assignment writing, and exam strategies. 


Choosing a university or training provider that’s right for you

Once it comes time to choose where you want to study, keep in mind that not all training providers are created equal. Make sure you choose a provider that's stood the test of time and has a good reputation for providing strong job outcomes for its students.

It's also a good idea to take your learning style into account. If you prefer learning hands on rather than sitting in a lecture theatre consider studying somewhere with a more practical learning style, such as TAFE, rather than university.

Choosing a course that’s right for you

Just like choosing your training provider, when choosing your course it pays to do your research. Make sure you're familiar with the different qualification levels on offer so you know if you need a certificate, diploma or degree to land your dream job.

It's also a good idea to check if the course offers flexible study options. If you want to fit your studies around your other work or family commitments, consider choosing a course that offers online, part time, or after-hours study options. 

The final thing to consider is to choose a course that aligns with where you're at now. If diving straight into full-time university study seems overwhelming, why not start out with a diploma at TAFE Queensland? You can get used to the study environment in smaller classes and get a qualified and start working in your industry generally within a year. Plus, with a diploma-to-degree pathway, if you decide to continue your studies at university you could receive up to year's worth of credit towards your degree. 


Find out how you can do uni differently — even after a break from study — with a diploma, degree or pathway from TAFE Queensland. 

MORE ABOUT DIPLOMAS  MORE ABOUT DEGREES

MORE ABOUT UNIVERSITY PATHWAYS

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