Imposter Syndrome

Regardless of how hard they’ve worked to succeed academically, many students still experience Imposter Syndrome at college.  They feel as though they don’t belong at the institution, or that they are somehow frauds and less worthy than their peers to be part of the university. When we talked to students at FSU, we found many individuals with imposter syndrome at every level of school: freshmen, undergraduates, and graduate students. So many individuals expressed insecurity and fear that they didn’t “weren’t smart enough” to be on campus that we included an audio presentation about imposter syndrome in the Student Resilience Project. The topic resonates with students, who feel reassured to know that many other students feel just like they do. Our own theory is that simply naming the problem helps make it feel less significant. Faculty can help with imposter syndrome by mentioning that they too felt insecure when they were students. Such an approach can normalize the experience. Finally, reassuring students that many famous people (like Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga) have experienced imposter syndrome helps students understand that the problem is widespread and that even the most accomplished people have felt like imposters at one time or another.

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