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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

When I began college, I was immediately hit with a wave of doubt. I doubted whether I chose the right university, whether my major was right for me, and whether I was smart enough to fulfill my dreams. Imposter syndrome began to creep into my life and before I knew it, my confidence in my academic ability was dwindling.  

Imposter syndrome is a term for doubting yourself and feeling unaccomplished, and in this case, feeling insecure in your abilities as a college student. Mainly it relates feeling as though you are not smart enough or are incapable of fulfilling academic achievements. This can lead to turning your back towards your future goals due to a lack of confidence. 

Since this is a common feeling amongst college students, I have compiled a list about how to overcome imposter syndrome during college. 

1. It’s not selfish to have self-confidence 

I tend to stray away from being overly exuberant in a classroom setting due to fear of being perceived as self-centered or egotistical. But I have come to realize that being confident in my academic abilities is different than believing I am smarter than everyone else. So, if you know the answer, say it! Don’t hide your knowledge because people could perceive you incorrectly. Odds are they aren’t even listening.

2. Fake it ’til you make it

Sometimes, especially in social situations that may be uncomfortable, faking confidence can make a huge difference. This applies to situations where you may feel intimidated by your professor or even classmates. Acting as if you’ve never experienced doubt in your life can help you gain real confidence in the long run. Work up the courage to speak one-on-one with your professor after lecture hall, even if your confidence is all pretend.

3. Set short-term goals that contribute towards long-term goals

If you try planning the next ten years of life, you’ll end up overwhelmed and drowning in stress, especially if you’re experiencing self-doubt. Doubt can sneak in, discouraging your future or post graduate plans, so instead, set short-term, manageable goals. For example, if the dream is med-school, make it a goal to achieve a GPA of 3.75 and above during your first year of college. This will set you on a path towards accomplishing the long-term goal of med-school while still helping you gain confidence in your academic ability along the way. 

4. It’s okay to ask for help

Don’t associate needing help with academic incompetence. As a high school student, this was a common roadblock that I experienced. It’s completely fine and very normal to need guidance or extra help. You do not have to accomplish things alone for them to be considered successful.

Overall, consider incorporating the “What, like it’s hard?” mindset that Elle Woods portrays so well in Legally Blonde. You’re fully capable of anything you put your mind to. Act like it. 

Tyler is a first-year Health and Kinesiology student at the University of Utah. She loves spending time at the lake, true crime podcasts, and going to spin bike classes!
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