Saturday, 10 April 2021

Imposter Syndrome at University

Rowchell shares information about Imposter Syndrome after researching on this topic to help fellow students who are experiencing feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and fraudulence despite the evidence that indicates otherwise.
- Rowchell Green 

Have you ever felt like a fraud? As though you have been placed in a fortunate position that you did not deserve? Or as if somebody else would be more appropriate to fill the shoes that you have stepped in? If you are familiar with these feelings, then you might have heard the word Imposter Syndrome and you would know first-hand, how over-bearing this can be, especially at university. 

Imposter Syndrome refers to the feeling of inadequacy, incompetence and fraudulence despite the evidence that indicates otherwise. With many friends who have been or are experiencing the impact of this issue, I started looking into this problem to try and help them find ways to mitigate those feelings.

Who can be affected by Imposter Syndrome?

Some may find it hard to believe that Imposter Syndrome can impact and affect the lives of individuals from many different walks of life, from a secondary school child to a ballerina, to a banker or even a librarian. Imposter Syndrome is a widespread condition: research shows that 70% of the population experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime.

Whilst all humans can be affected by Imposter Syndrome, researcher Sherman has shown discriminations towards different groups could contribute to a higher vulnerability of individuals experiencing Imposter Syndrome among those groups. In societies where women are prejudiced against, females leaders might question whether they are deserving of their success regardless of the external evidence of their capabilities. Racial and ethnic stereotyping could also intensify the self-doubt experienced by ethnic minority students. 

How can we identify Imposter Syndrome?

To understand what Imposter Syndrome is and to remove common misconceptions, it is helpful to look at what the syndrome is not. Imposter Syndrome is not low self-esteem, workaholism or nerves — though individuals may experience these elements alongside having Imposter Syndrome. Three main signs are associated with Imposter Syndrome: the fear of being exposed as a fraud, the sense of fooling others into overestimating one’s ability and attributing one’s success to other factors. These feelings can be all-consuming. 

Imposter Syndrome and university life

Many of us may have experienced self-doubt. In small doses, this feeling of inadequacy can induce determination to disprove these troubling ideals. However, for an individual with Imposter Syndrome, these feelings are more likely to accumulate and produce an overwhelming sensation of fear about being exposed and losing all credibility. 

Evaluation and assessment are common themes of university life. Students are often required to be self-reflexive and self-critical in those processes. With the amount of pressure and tests that students face, whether this is in the form of assignments, group projects, grades, the constant need to brand, network or represent the best parts of ourselves to future employers, teachers or parents, it is understandable that a large number of university students experience Imposter Syndrome.

Starting university can be particularly difficult for people with Imposter Syndrome. Some of us might feel lost at the welcome lecture, finding 100 students sat down, blanked faced, staring at a grinning teacher who tells us that “you are welcome”,  that “the next few weeks may be challenging”, and that “if you made it here then you must be capable, and smart, and knowledgeable“ and everything else which you may think that you are not. It can be hard to hear those words, and suddenly see the corners of everyone else’s mouths turn up, smiling in agreement, smiling in confirmation, that they are smart and capable and deserve to be here, whilst some may think otherwise. So how can we overcome this? 

Small steps to overcome Imposter Syndrome

Fortunately, it is possible to overcome Imposter Syndrome. First, we can pay attention to our thoughts and acknowledge whether they are disabling or empowering in order to navigate the habitual cognitive patterns that we may have. We are also advised to consider our strengths and be appreciative of the fact that perfection is unrealistic, to reduce the high expectations we have of ourselves. Most importantly, it is helpful to discuss our feelings with a trustworthy friend or family — opening up about insecurities or struggles can allow us to make progress in the right direction and receive the support we need. 

If you identify with some of the topics mentioned, I urge you to remember that you are not alone. In that welcome lecture, where 100 of you are sat down, many of you may feel the same way and it is important to know that there are support services available to you — all of you!

** Following studies were consulted when writing this blog:
  • The Imposter Syndrome, or the Mis-Representation of Self in Academic Life (Joel Bothello & Thomas Roulet, 2018)
  • How to Stop Feeling Like a Phony in Your Library: Recognizing the Causes of the Imposter Syndrome, and How to Put a Stop to the Cycle (Lacy Rakestraw, 2017)
  • Imposter syndrome: when you feel like you’re faking it (Rose Sherman, 2013)

Visit Student Space to explore online resources for self-care, access direct support via text, phone, web chat or email and find the support available at your place of study. 

Hello, my name is Rowchell Green and I am a student at Warwick University. I am studying Psychology with Education studies. I have an extreme passion about understanding human behaviour and bettering the education system. Outside of studying, I enjoy writing blogs and creating content! You can go to my blog The Student Voice to find more academic-related and wellbeing content created by me. 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

4 Ways to Switch Off When Studying from Home

Katie talks you through four easy tips that you can implement into your week to help you switch off when you're studying from home. 

- Katie Marrin

Over the last year, the majority of students have been completing their degree from kitchens, bedrooms and home offices. Studying in this way has definitely been a challenge. Many students have been lacking in academic support, whilst others have suffered socially and emotionally. Studying in the same space that you eat, sleep and relax is taxing for our emotional wellbeing. So here are 4 easy tips that you can implement into your weekly routine to boost your mental health and prevent university from devouring your days. 

Tip #1: Match your wardrobe to your task 

Whilst it may be tempting to work in your pyjamas from your bed, push yourself to wear the clothes that you normally would if you had classes and teaching in person. This habit will help to separate your university study time from the “you-time” that you should be enjoying in the evening. Once your university day is finished, it’s time to put on those comfy clothes. Shake the studying day off by changing your clothes into something more comfortable. In the same way that we focus the mind with our daytime outfit, we can relax the mind and switch off from studying by changing our clothes. Throw on your pyjamas or that oversized hoodie. For the extra comfort levels, dig out your fleecy socks. If you don’t have any, head online and grab some. There’s nothing a pair of fleecy socks can’t fix. I’ve recently bought some teddy fabric socks and as soon as I slip them on, I instantly change into relaxation mode. Combine these socks with a bath to instantly switch off from the day. 

Tip #2: Go Outside 

When you’re studying, living, eating, and breathing in one space, it can be tempting to roll from your desk to the bed and watch the evening pass by whilst you binge Netflix. Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing wrong with Netflix. I’m particularly enjoying The Crown as much current lockdown binge! However, it’s been proven that being outside and looking at the odd tree lowers your blood pressure and limits the production of cortisol and adrenaline. These are two of the hormones that induce feelings of stress and anxiety, allowing you to switch off for the evening. 

Tip #3 - Stay Active 

Whether you love it or hate it, exercise is amazing for your mental wellbeing. The problem is, people assume that to exercise you have to go on runs that last three hours, or spend a fortune on a gym membership. There’s so much pressure to exercise in the ‘right’ way, but the truth is that any exercise and physical activity is going to be beneficial for you, so find a form of exercise that you enjoy. That way you’re more likely to take part. It’s a great idea to split your day with a workout. Once you finish your studying for the day, throw on some workout clothes and get straight into some physical activity. This is especially beneficial if you’ve had a hard day. If a lecturer or a friend has said something that bothered you, or a piece of work is frustrating you, use all of those emotions during your exercise. By the time you’re finished, you’ll feel much calmer. If you’re new to the world of exercise, try EMK FIT’s YouTube channel. These workouts are fantastic because they’re FREE! The best benefit for students, let’s be honest. 

Tip #4 - Embrace the world of podcasts 

Podcasts are increasingly rising in popularity, and are easily accessible. Again, this is a free resource that will allow your mind to engage with lighter topics so that it switches off from the intense studying you’ve been doing all day. If you haven’t spoken to anyone all day, podcasts are a great way to stimulate your brain socially.

Some of my recommendations include: 

You’re Dead to Me: this podcast is run by the guy behind Horrible Histories and features three people. This one is great for learning new skills and having a good giggle. 

A Sprinkle of Disney: if you’re a Disney fan, this podcast will put a smile on your face. Take an hour out of your day to embrace some movie magic. 

We Are Netflix: take Netflix and Chill to a new level with the company’s official podcast. Gain an extra insight into your favourite series and the world behind the TV screen. 

After spending all day staring at screens, it’s likely that your brain and your eyes will need a screen break. Play a podcast whilst you’re on a walk, or cooking your dinner, and you’ll switch off from your studies in no time. 

So there you have it! 4 easy top tips that will help you leave the woes and worries of studying behind so that you can enjoy your evening and weekend.

Visit Student Space for further support. Explore online resources, access direct support via text, phone, web chat or email and find the support available at your place of study.


Hi! I'm Katie - I graduated from Lancaster Uni not long ago. During both my undergraduate degree (BA Theatre and English Lit) and my postgraduate course (MSc Marketing), I was always balancing uni work with part time jobs, extra responsibilities and extracurricular and recreational activities.