Worried about failing? Here’s how to face the fear (3min read)

The mid-semester break is a great opportunity to de-stress and get some rest. If you find yourself spending time worrying that you might have failed your exams though, it may be reassuring to know that you won’t be the only one.

The truth is that fear of failing is a widespread human concern – in the list of common fears that people have, it’s right up there with spiders, clowns and public speaking.

Here’s the thing about failure, though: everyone fails at something, it’s a normal part of the learning process, and even highly successful people experience failure from time to time. In fact, sometimes it is precisely because we fail that our success eventually happens, for failure can teach us things that success never can.

It might sound strange, but whether it’s with a business, relationship, degree, job interview, or driving test, there are ways to approach failure to “fail forward”.

“Making a mistake or failing isn’t the opposite of success—it’s part of it.”

Herb de Vries, Internationally recognised UC Associate Professor & 2015 UC Teaching Medal recipient

Aerospace engineers provide a very interesting example. By their nature, rockets are quite explodey things, and it takes an enormous number of parts and processes working in tandem for them to complete their missions. Because of this, when SpaceX engineers set out to design a rocket that would not only fly up into space, but turn around and come back down again to land, they expected that many of their initial attempts would end in catastrophic failure. They were absolutely right.

What they also expected, though, was to be able to learn from those failures and use them as a basis for improvements to design and manufacturing techniques, thereby leading (eventually) to success. The possibility of failure had to be embraced – and benefited from.

This attitude seems to be not only very healthy, but applicable to a wide variety of life pursuits, including university study. Failure can sometimes trip us up with things we care about, but it can also provide a platform that helps us get even further in the long run – if we choose to use it that way.

So, if a bad grade strikes you, what can you do? Here’s three pieces of advice:

  1. Deal with the feels: take time out to manage whatever you’re feeling, whether it’s disappointment or frustration or annoyance. Failure can suck, so do positive things for yourself to offset that. Spend time with friends and family, get outdoors, watch your favourite Netflix series – whatever.
  2. Evaluate the situation: instead of putting it out of mind, put a detective hat on and assess what might have gone wrong. Did you put in enough study and preparation? Did you misread the exam and so give answers that didn’t address the questions set? Were you running at less than 100% due to circumstances like sickness or a breakup? Did you ask enough questions to your lecturers or tutors?
  3. Make a plan of action: having come up with a list, it’s now practical action that is needed. Going through the factors, what could you control or do differently next time? What extra steps could you take or put in place? You might find it really helpful to talk with support staff for their advice – they can offer objective, honest suggestions to help.

If you would like to read more about the topic, we’ve made a set of webpages covering some of the most important and interesting things.

Either way though, mauria te pono – believe in yourself!



Tim Rowe

Kairuruku Oranga | Wellbeing Coordinator

Wellness Services


Love music? Head to Go Live Festival in Ōtautahi Christchurch this month

Love music? Check out the Go Live Festival on Saturday July 24 2021 in Christchurch. 

The event – which was first held in 2020 – will include three Industry Talks for those wanting to make a name for themselves in the music industry during the day, while in the evening local bands will perform live in the Christchurch Town Hall.

FREE Industry Talks programme – Saturday 24 July, 12.30-5pm, Christchurch Town Hall

These free interactive sessions will be handy for students and music lovers who want to get involved in the music industry and learn some top tips from experts. 

The first talk will feature a presentation from Australian-based musician and record producer Tom Larkin, who will talk about his journey with Shihad and his extensive music business portfolio.

2pm: Unpacking the music industry 

The second talk will include national agencies like NZ on Air, the NZ Music Commission, APRA, and the NZ Music Managers Forum. This session will focus on what services and support agencies can provide budding artists. From registering your songs, to music management and funding, these experts have all the information you need to learn about advancing your career as an artist.

3.30pm: Music production 

The Aotearoa Music Producer Series (AMPS) will be moderated by Welsh music producer Greg Haver, who is best known for his work with the Manic Street Preachers, Melanie C, Opshop and The Feelers. Missy, P-Money and Ben Edwards will be the panellists.

Find out more and book your free ticket here> 

Live Music – Saturday 24 July, 7.30-11pm, Christchurch Town Hall 

Over 16 emerging and established Ōtautahi Christchurch artists will play the five Go Live stages. Don’t miss 90’s grunge band Pumpkinhead, ASHY, Dolphin Friendly, There’s A Tuesday, Reuben Stone and more.

Tickets for Live Music are super affordable at only $10 (plus booking fee) and are now available through Ticketek.  A ticket will provide entry to all stages. 

Find out more and book your ticket here> 


Mid-year Results, Academic Progress and December Graduation

Results for most undergraduate Semester 1 courses will be released on Friday 9 July.  Results release will start from 12 noon and we expect all results to be released to students by Friday 2pm.

You can access mid-year results by logging into myUC and selecting the link “Internal transcript and results”.

You can find further information about results and appeals on the Results and Appeals webpage.

Academic Progress Reviews

At the end of each semester, the University checks the academic progress of all students and the next check-up is about to take place.

At the end of each semester, students’ academic transcripts are reviewed to make sure they are on track to succeed in their studies and meet the professional requirements for their chosen degree. If you are not heading in the right direction, you may have restrictions placed on your enrolment, or be excluded from your Award/UC.

If you are not on track with your studies, you may receive an academic progress letter between 14 and 16 July. Please check your student email account regularly to ensure you receive any important information relevant to your future study at UC.

For information on who can help you with the Academic Progress process and to find resources to help you get awesome results in your studies, check out the Academic Progress website.

 Applying to graduate

Students who are eligible to graduate as a result of their 2021 study can apply online through the UC Graduation website.

Applications for the December 2021 ceremonies will be open from 1–31 August. Students wishing to graduate at a ceremony in December must apply before the end of August. Please note late applications will not be accepted.

Applications for the April 2022 ceremonies will open in February 2022. 

Students can also apply to graduate in absentia and receive their diploma by mail.

Where Canterbury students share their experiences.

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