By Grant J Everett
We all have dreams, but it can be easy for fear to stop us from moving towards them. Wanting to access tertiary education is a common goal, and it can provide many benefits: a TAFE course or two can open up your job prospects, assist with your self-development, and even get you into University, if that’s what you desire.
Those of us with mental health issues are at risk of automatically writing ourselves off, to believe that we have no chance of going any further in life due to our diagnosis. The trick with overcoming fear is to challenge it rather than assuming it’s insurmountable.
TAFE NSW wants all students to get the most out of their learning experience, but they understand that personal matters can interfere with their academic performance. This is why they provide free counselling and support services all the way from enrollment to graduation, and their counselors will listen and help you come up with effective strategies to complete your education. Counselling is available to all current and future TAFE students, and accessing it is as easy as making an appointment or dropping in and asking to talk to somebody. If a one-to-one face-to-face session isn’t possible, then telephone or video conferencing can be provided. If necessary, they can arrange for you to speak with a counsellor in your own language.
Counsellors can help you to deal with any personal matters that are affecting your studies. Whether it’s mental health issues, physical illness, problems at home, poor study skills, financial issues or anything else, they can lend a hand. For those of us with mental health concerns, TAFE counsellors can refer you to a Disability Consultant to arrange educational assistance, or connect you up with community mental health services. TAFE counsellors maintain a large network with community and government agencies in areas including education, health, welfare, law and disability, and can use these networks to provide specialist assistance.
Potential barriers to studying
No matter what might be holding you back, there’s a good chance that there exists some kind of support that will allow you to be the best student you can be. For instance…
Were you bullied in high school? The world is getting less and less tolerant of bullying, and TAFE has a zero tolerance policy towards it. TAFE students are treated as adults, and are expected to act like adults.
Do you think an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not only are you never too old to pick up new skills, but mature age students can actually be better pupils: adults are more mature, take their studies more seriously, and have a better idea of what they want in life.
Concerned that you won’t be able to keep up with the coursework? TAFE classes are kept at a manageable size so the teachers can offer extra assistance to anyone who’s feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed. Many courses are available either part time or full time, so bigger certificates can potentially be spread out over several years. Some courses can also be attended during the day or in the evening. Allowances can be made if you are falling behind.
Worried studying will cost too much? Not only do students on the Disability Support Pension get one free TAFE course a year through Centrelink, they are also eligible for a regular support supplement to help with study expenses.
Don’t know where you want to go in life? TAFE campuses provide course information sessions and other group programs to assist students with plotting their career path.
TAFE NSW has 130 locations around the state and is also offered online. Their courses are specifically designed to help you to get the most from your training, and provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.
Not sure where to start looking into Universities in NSW? Try this list: