The need for a redefinition of first year experience in higher education is advocated with the aid of two models, which, although focused on a sample of Australian pre-service teaching students, is proposed as generalisable across the first year. Introduction to the mores of higher education is generally supported by teaching institutions during Orientation days and into the first few weeks of study on the assumption that students are then prepared for academic study. Institutions have invested significantly in providing a range of resources and services to support this process but their effectiveness relies on their timely and appropriate use by students. It is proposed that first year students' transition be identified as the FYST, a unique and important experience and the first of a series of transitions that occur throughout tertiary study. It is also argued that student engagement should be explicitly linked to critical points in the academic programme. Student teacher focus group feedback suggests that Timely, Individualised, and Prioritised Survival [TIPS] support may be key to aiding students' transition to higher education and valuable to student retention.