Imposter Syndrome In Students

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Imposter Syndrome: it’s a buzzword often heard in conversations around career inadequacy or the pursuits of creative types trying to make it in competitive fields. But it doesn’t just affect young professionals after graduation—imposter syndrome can hold back students simply trying to succeed in School

What is Imposter Syndrome? Known also as fraud syndrome or the impostor experience, Imposter Syndrome is officially defined as the anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one’s accomplishments to luck or other external forces. Based on this definition, it’s easy to see how this type of anxiety can have dramatic repercussions on academia, affecting students and instructors in the classroom and out.

Here are just a few examples of imposter syndrome’s effect on students. Both academic and social struggles can occur while in school: Students suffering from imposter syndrome not only struggle in class but can become socially isolated too.
There’s potential for long-term effects beyond graduation: Students with imposter syndrome are likely to make ill-fitting career choices—and experience burnout both in college and career.

The good news: there’s a variety of tips and techniques students, instructors and anyone else battling imposter syndrome can use to manage the anxiety. If students are struggling in school, helping them overcome imposter syndrome now can build confidence and foster success once they enter the workforce.

Author Valerie Young, Ed.D., is an internationally recognized expert on impostor syndrome. Her top tips for fighting imposter syndrome can be utilized by both students and instructors. Young’s tips include the act of separating feelings from fact; “There are times you’ll feel stupid…realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.”

Young also suggests rewriting your “script,” or that “automatic mental tape that starts playing in situations that trigger your imposter feelings.” For example, instead of starting a new project or job with a script that says, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” try thinking, “I may not know all the answers now, but I’m smart enough to find them out.”