Category Archives: Student Success

Opportunities and advice for making the most of your time at UC, as well as stories featuring students who are excelling in their field.

Success, failure and Demosthenes

Let’s be honest: exam time can be pretty stressful, not least because it raises the spectre of potentially not getting the results we wanted. While natural talents and abilities can certainly help make things easier, the importance of hard work on the path to success really can’t be overstated.

Sir Edmund Hillary demonstrated this point very well. As he put it, “In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed.”

For Hillary, success in reaching the top of Mt Everest was literally a matter of taking it in steps. Metaphorically, though, the same was true for the Greek orator and politician Demosthenes insofar as he undertook a regime of action intended to help himself improve and progress.

According to reports, Demosthenes attempted to overcome the effects of a speech impediment by rehearsing speeches with pebbles in his mouth. He built an underground room so he could avoid disturbing others in his home, and practiced orations against the sound of crashing waves in order to strengthen his voice. He is even said to have fixed a sword to the ceiling and stood underneath it so that he could train himself out of a tendency to lift one of his shoulders while speaking.

Perhaps no less important than hard work on the road to success, though, is the way in which we perceive failing—and there are definitely better and worse ways of perceiving them!

If you would like to learn more about success and failure and helpful ways to think about them, we’ve collected a set resources and videos together. You can check them out here.

Tōku toa he toa rangatira.

My courage is the courage of chiefs.

Manage your stress for better success

“I’m soooooo stressed out right now!” Sound familiar?

It’s not unusual for students to experience anxiety and tension at the thought of sitting exams. Here’s some strategies for putting those nervous energies into study prep or just chilling out between exams.

Prioritise: What are you going to study today and how will you do it? Can some day-to-day tasks be put on hold until after exams?

Reassure yourself: take time out to tell your subconscious that you don’t have a life-threatening situation to deal with so your fear of upcoming exams is not needed. You’ve got a study plan so make yourself feel better by ticking off the tasks as you complete them.

Breathe: When you breathe in make sure the breath out is longer, as long and slow as you can manage. This can really put the brakes on run-away anxiety. Breathe lower down rather than in the upper chest. Put your hands lower than your diaphragm and watch them rise and fall with each breath. Focus, concentrate on breathing in through the nose and slowly exhale. This will lower your blood pressure and change your brainwave pattern from beta (mental activity) to alpha (relaxation).

Reconnect yourself: Make getting into nature a priority – walk amongst trees, have lunch in the sun. Do things that normally give you joy, preferably away from any kind of screen or device. Maybe a yoga session at the RecCentre would be the thing for you.

Find a balance between periods of study concentration, physical relaxation and also fun.

Your study tips 
We asked for your study tips – here’s what you told us…

“Nobody benefits from sitting around stressing out and putting unnecessary pressure on themselves. It’s better to get out and have some fun and come back to it [study] later.” – Ella, second year science student

“Stay positive, if you’re positive, positive results will happen. It’s the law of attraction!” – Isaac, second year law student

“The Zen room [at the UC RecCentre] is my favourite place at uni!” – Verity, second year engineering and arts student

UC students to compete in World University Games

Two Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) students from the University of Canterbury will be representing New Zealand at the World University Games to be held 3-14 July in Naples, Italy.

Max Attwell and Anna Percy will be competing in Athletics. Max is formerly from Wanganui Collegiate School and Anna is a former student from Christchurch’s St Margaret’s College.

The World University Games, or Summer Universiade, is a major international sporting event for student athletes from around the world. It is held every two years and this year more than 9,000 competitors from over 128 countries will take part in Naples for the 30th biennial event. It is second only to the Olympic games in participant numbers and countries in attendance and forms an important pathway for many Commonwealth and Olympic sports, especially athletics.

I’m really excited for the opportunity to represent my university and my country over in Italy. I’ve been aiming for this competition for a very long time and can’t wait to prove what I’m capable of. – Max Attwell


There’s no higher honour than wearing the fern on the world stage, so I’m super excited to get out there and hopefully do the university and New Zealand proud!
 – Anna Percy