Imposter Syndrome as an Undergraduate

Kelly Scovell

Starting university can be a daunting experience. With new living arrangements, new friends and a new course, it can be a lot to deal with. But the University of Lincoln is dedicated to helping you through your journey to success and into your chosen career path. That said, improving and reaching success requires commitment!

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and experience a persistent feeling of not belonging or fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Being in a novel environment such as university can often make individuals feel like this. For me, it was the fear that I was not smart enough to be at university, although my grades prove the contrary. If you struggle to accept your successes at face value, or if you often feel that you are not good enough, you might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome. Sufferers struggle to recognise their own achievements, and attribute their success to luck and effort whilst assuming that others succeed through talent. It can negatively impact day-to-day happiness and inhibit future success.

For many who experience Imposter Syndrome, it comes as a relief to know there is a label for this feeling, that there are ways to address it, and that they are not alone. I can assure you that many find the adjustment to university daunting. At the University of Lincoln, there are many opportunities for you to improve your confidence in your skills, with multiple resources available to help guide you, and help you start new activities academic or sport related. My advice: if you are not participating in any extracurricular activities, start now. With fewer teaching hours, you have more flexibility with your schedule, meaning university is the best time to get involved with societies, sports, and volunteering. For example, you could become a research assistant for a staff member within the School of Psychology, or volunteer with a local charity. The Careers and Employability centre, on the ground floor of the University Library, offer drop-in sessions where you can seek career advice and guidance to develop your skills.

My final piece of advice is to communicate with your tutors and research supervisors. They are experienced professionals in the field of Psychology and can give advice and guidance that is helpful and specific to your goals; they will likely be familiar with your academic work and can quickly identify areas for you to improve. When I spoke to my research supervisor, she informed me that students can present undergraduate research projects at conferences such as the BCUR (British Conference of Undergraduate Research). This is an excellent opportunity to set yourself apart from your fellow students.

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