Edem Dokli's university career had stalled until a second chance surfaced while listening to the radio.
The Woodcroft resident, 22, had failed several subjects of an early childhood degree over three years before hearing of The University of Technology Sydney's pathway program, UTS:Insearch.
"It was to me a second chance to get it right," she said.
"At 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do, but not attending university was not an option.
"I had attained a number of fails on my transcript and eventually it was obvious to myself and the academics that I was not ready for university.
"I got to a point where I didn't have many choices left."
Miss Dokli was credited for the eight months of accelerated study she did to successfully complete a diploma in public relations through UTS:Insearch last year.
She is now in the second year of a communications degree.
"It gave me that passion for learning and understanding of theories to equip me for further learning at UTS," Miss Dokli said.
"My academic journey now has kind of skyrocketed compared with when I first went into university, because I'm doing something I love.
‘‘At then end of the day what it came down to was my involvement and my wanting to learn. It was up to me to get in touch with my tutors. That support was something I became aware of at UTS and utilising that made all the difference.’’
UTS:INSEARCH’s general manager of education Tim Laurence said attrition rates for the first year of university were higher than ever.
‘‘Much of this failure is a fait accompli before the first month of study is up,’’ he said.
‘‘Without pressure to submit assignments, little support for individual learning and no monitoring of attendance, many new students fall behind.”
Local employment co-ordinator for Sydney’s west, Narelle Wheathead, estimates the number of year 12 graduates who finish the first year of a university degree is less than 15 per cent.