Plan your manoeuvre into tertiary study

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Applying for entry into tertiary study can, in a way, be likened to planning a military manoeuvre: you cannot simply apply all your combat power at the last minute to achieve the objective; you have to plan ahead knowing that the better the plan, the better the preparation, the smoother the process, the more assured will be the outcome.

Similarly, when planning for entry into tertiary study you may need to undertake a number of ‘manoeuvres’ before you actually key in your tertiary application responses. For example, knowing that you may be moving around the country, or even outside the country, can pose a major hurdle – and it’s therefore critical that you and your family can access sound educational programs regardless of location.

This article focuses on the opportunities and conditions applying to tertiary study in Queensland but the general principles apply in most Australian States. While the agencies may go by a different name the approach is similar nationwide, and prospective tertiary candidates can use this example as a guide to how they pursue study in other Australian states.

In Queensland, touching base with QTAC’s Tertiary Advice and Counselling Service on (07) 3858 1298 may well provide the initial contact you need. Counsellors will be able to help with any problems of location and particular study requirements. For example, there’s the nitty-gritty question of what sort of professional or academic ‘weaponry’ you are taking in with you to achieve a place in your desired course, and here there are a number of calibrations to take into account, including:

Do you have a Year 12 pass that will be sufficient to gain a place in your chosen course? Do you have a trade and what is your rank? How long have you been in the military and what other employment experience do you have? Do you have any additional qualifications that could be taken into account?

There are also some tactical pathways that can work around not having formal academic qualifications. For example, it is important to note that if you do not have Year 12 or equivalent, you can apply as an alternative entry applicant, using previous qualifications and employment experience, which can include your time in the ADF. You can also apply for tertiary study through a pathway known as Personal Competencies Assessment (PCA). Briefly, PCA is like writing a well-considered and documented job application, complete with referees, addressing set criteria about your ability to successfully carry out your mission, which in this case is tertiary study.

You could also sit the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT), which is recognised by all QTAC institutions as being an indicator of your ability to study at tertiary level. The results of the test can be used by itself or in conjunction with an alternative entry application; that is, an application without formal academic qualifications, such as PCA, to improve your standing. Most people who submit PCA applications also sit the test because the results can only be used to help their standing, or in military – speak to advance their position. In other words, a bad STAT result will not count against you. In some instances, the STAT can even be used to give you the necessary prerequisite subjects such as Maths or English that you may need to enter your chosen course.

As a part of your manoeuvre you may even consider a two-tiered approach: by choosing a tertiary course that is of interest to you, which is easier (less competitive) to get into than your preferred course but may not be your final goal. After a year of successful study in this course you may be able to use your results to ‘upgrade’ into your more desired course.

So, this ‘battle plan’ can be your stepping stone into tertiary study, which can be fairly complex depending on your current experience or academic status. However, it can be made immensely easier and more attainable if, in the first instance, a well-considered strategy is put into place.

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