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wellbeing 4 min read

How being Headstrong has improved my study

By Tiffany 03 Nov 2019
Tiffany holding her baby boy

Thomas Edison once said, ‘If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves’. If everyone has that sort of potential, what is it that stops people from achieving their ambitions?

For university students, barriers can come in many forms. From nagging procrastination to life getting in the way, there are already enough hurdles in the way of success; so why let your own lack of confidence be another?

Tiffany is studying a Bachelor of Nursing at USQ and when starting her university degree, encountered a sentiment that many of her colleagues faced.

There was a period of time when I didn’t think I was smart enough for university study.
Leaving a career in administration to study nursing wasn’t the first big life change Tiffany had experienced. Not long before starting study, Tiffany gave birth to her first son. While definitely an added responsibility to juggle, Tiffany believes this is what motivated her to abandon fear and chase new goals, stating that many parents feel the same.
Having a child gives you a real sense of who you are and what you are actually capable of.
Acknowledging self-doubt and overcoming it are two different things. Despite an attitude of determination, university study was a new experience for Tiffany, so she began looking for advice on how to deal with negative experiences she might face at university. To prepare herself as best as possible, she registered for the Headstrong online program. Within just six weeks, Tiffany had found strategies that could help her build that self-belief during tough times at uni.
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Dealing with negative experiences

I am more confident, I feel like I’m more able to cope with negative experiences.
A large component of the Headstrong online program is acknowledging that sometimes you can’t escape negative situations or thoughts, but you can live with them and continue progressing. It’s about not struggling against your experiences, but learning to ‘drop the rope’.
I learned how to acknowledge my negative thoughts, the fact I’ve felt those thoughts before – and how to put them to the side and keep moving forward.

Cartoon image of man pulling rope against feelings of self doubt and unworthiness

Cartoon image of man letting go of the rope against feelings of self doubt and unworthiness

Bilich, L., Blackledge, J. T., Ciarrochi, J., Feros, D., & Lane, L. (nd). ACT now: Adjusting to cancer, committing to your values, taking action now. Retrieved from

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Nurses by the nature of their work are prone to burning out. That’s why building resilience needs to start as a student.
Tiffany describes resilience as learning how to ‘bounce forward’ when something happens to you. While it’s easy to sit and dwell on mistakes or bad experiences and blame yourself, the key to success is knowing how to find a way to move forward.
Nurses need to be confident. You are constantly judged retrospectively on your actions and you need the self-assurance that you’ve done the best you can if people ask questions.
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Applying this to your study

Since completing Headstrong, Tiffany has been able to apply what she learned in her day-to-day study. While some of the concepts aren’t entirely new to her, she is now armed with resources and strategies that have changed her perspective and approach to elements of study.

What I do now is I print out feedback from my assignments from the previous semester. Whether I agree with it or not, I use it to improve my assignments the next semester.
It also teaches the importance of grounding yourself, re-centring yourself. This is something I can definitely apply at 3am when my child is screaming!

Tiffany identified that the skills developed through the program didn’t just relate to her study, but to other elements of her life too. Whether she is chasing deadlines, chasing job opportunities or chasing her child around the house, Tiffany is now able to slow herself down, take a breath, and remind herself where she is in that very moment.

The road to completing her study is still a long one, but with belief in herself and strategies that will last the entire degree, Tiffany has set herself up for success as a student and believes others should do the same.

We all have our own strengths and it’s just realising the confidence in your own abilities! These are skills you are going to need in your work, so you should be strengthening them now.

The Headstrong online program is free, online, and available to all eligible current USQ students.

Statistic - 86% of Headstrong participants gained confidence in themselves to complete university.
*Results based on a participation survey conducted following the Headstrong online program Semester 1 2018.