TAFE to Uni
From TAFE to Uni Survival Guide
Welcome to uni!
So you've come, or plan to come, to study at uni after your TAFE course and you're likely to have plenty of questions. Orientation will answer a lot of them, so be sure not to miss it. But we know that some of you - especially if you've been granted credit so you can start your uni course partway through - are likely to miss out on useful information and resources for your studies.
Moving from TAFE to uni has some challenges which can be avoided or overcome. In most ways, your experience will be the same as other students, but previous students who came to uni from TAFE have told us about some challenges which we've listed below alongside student advice and links to relevant guidance.
You can also download your own copy of this guide:
The students want you to know about:
Credits and pathways
If you haven't looked into whether you could get any credit for your TAFE studies, you may want to check out Credit for Previous Study.
Orienting yourself to uni
So, even if you're not starting until mid-year, try to go to O-week anyway! Find out more about Orientation.
But if you can't attend, have a look at the "Ready 4 Uni" page. There, you will find a short introductory video and a wealth of information under these headings:
- Key things
- Life as a student
- How we support you
- Your college
- Academic preparation
Managing time and tasks
True, consider Uni as a full-time job. Give enough time for it. You will need to allow for 35 to 40 hours of self-directed study and contact hours most weeks.
However uni is different from work: at work you show up, do your job, go home and you're done. At uni the "contact hours", when you have to be there for a lecture or tutorial, are when teaching staff introduce and explain the work which you then have to do in your own time. There's usually also self-directed study which might be a lot of reading and writing, maybe some viewing of video resources, and there may be "field" research as well. Make a plan that helps you fit uni in with all your other commitments, such as sporting activities, family time and work. Students suggest - plan early and often, and be flexible.
Find out more about time management including useful tips and resources.
LMS - What is it?
Managing the technology and online systems, where you find important parts of your courses can be an initial challenge.
The online "LMS" stands for "Learning Management System" which may also be referred to as 'MOODLE'. This is where all your subject information, discussions and announcements from your lecturers are held: Your Subject Learning Guides, which set out the whole semester's work for each subject, are on LMS; also weekly tasks and quizzes; instructions for your assignments, including due dates; and discussions that take place online, which you may be expected to contribute to.
You can get in and explore LMS when you have your student password. The Brief LMS Overview [PDF 712KB] takes some of the mystery out of LMS, showing you what it looks like and how to navigate through it.
In the first few weeks of semester set aside some time to explore your LMS and ask for help if you are having problems accessing it. You could ask fellow students or mentors, tutors, lecturers, Peer Learning Advisors (PLAs) in the Library or check out Student IT Support.
Differences between TAFE and uni
It is helpful to approach the new study environment at university as you might approach visiting a new country. When preparing to visit a new county you might buy a guide book and find out what the people in that country value and how they go about their everyday activities. Similarly at University, it is helpful to look at resources to see what is prominent, is valued, and notice how people do things. Often students notice that there is a shift in focus.
Both kinds of knowledge are important, and complementary, indeed having experience of work can be very helpful to learning theory. However, these two kinds of knowledge fulfil different purposes.
Uni is where you learn how knowledge is made, and you join in that knowledge making process. It's a vast conversation among academics in each discipline, carried on in the form of publications (books, articles, conference presentations) where they share their latest information and their interpretations of what that information means. Those interpretations are what is meant by "theories": general explanations of why and how things happen in the ways that they do. Sometimes academics agree, and sometimes not, and new knowledge emerges from that process of developing theories and testing them out.
Your work at uni involves learning about the current explanations in your field of study, and understanding their uses and their limitations. And in the end, this connects with the world of work: work focuses on what you do and how, theory focuses on why you do it that way.
Learning and assessment
The "how" encompasses a lot of different things, from the format of your assignment, to the way you express yourself, to the way you indicate what sources you used. And there's not just one right way - these things differ from one discipline to the next. As in any workplace, or sport for that matter, you need to learn what is expected and do it that way. Some of this information is on each subject's website (LMS), and fuller guidance can be found in the "Survival Guides" provided by the Colleges, which are an excellent source for all commencing students. You can find these Survival Guides, as well as lots more resources on all aspects of study on the Learning Support site.
The Library is your other important source, and a good place to start is their page for new students. Find out about library services, research skills, referencing, and where to go to find help. Achieve@Uni covers key research and academic skills for your studies. The Academic Referencing Tool has examples of how to reference different kinds of sources, depending on which system your subjects tell you to apply. The Assignment Calculator is also available to assist you in time managing your assessments and submitting on time.
Looking for help
As you've seen in this guide, there's heaps of help you can find without moving off the sofa! But don't stop there -- Not everything you need to know is neatly packaged up online. Some of it is in the heads of teaching and learning staff and fellow students, and one of the pleasures of study is to meet with other people pursuing similar interests, facing similar challenges, and talk about the issues you share and any aspects of the work that you're unsure about. You won't always know what you need until you need it, and it's good to have somewhere to go beyond just the first few weeks. We've got some solutions to this, and we hope you'll take advantage of these, depending on what's on offer at your campus at this time.
- Learning Support has staff on every campus who can help you get your head around what's wanted in your subjects. You'll also find details of the workshops and activities offered at each location.
- In the campus libraries, there are Peer Learning Advisers available to answer questions about any aspect of studying at uni.
Student mentors here to help
Every commencing student is assigned just such a mentor, to help "get them rolling". You will meet them at Orientation.
If you don't hear from yours soon after you enrol, email email@example.com and let them know you're there!
It may be a cliché to say University years are the best days of your life, but it's likely to be true. Welcome.