You may have encountered the term “imposter syndrome” at some point in your life. It can often be referred to in the context of how it may affect professionals in their field, but the fact is that it is quite common among graduate students as well. Research suggests that up to 70% of adults may experience it at least once in their lives. In this article, we will share helpful tips for developing resilience against imposter syndrome.
Why should you think about imposter syndrome in the context of graduate school? Because imposter syndrome is actually quite common, and it’s important to know how to recognize it. It can often impact your grad school performance, lower your confidence, and take energy away from your studies. The important thing to realize is that you have accomplished so much already, and you have earned your place in your graduate program.
Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe a common phenomenon that can bring on feelings of self-doubt and incompetence, often coupled with a fear of being discovered as a fraud. Individuals who experience this phenomenon may feel as though they aren’t as intelligent or accomplished and that they achieved their success because of luck, timing, or other external factors.1
In graduate school, imposter syndrome manifests as comparing yourself negatively to other students and perpetuating self-doubt, sometimes making you question whether you are smart enough to be there. Negative thoughts can intrude into your mind, causing you to wonder if your professors will find out soon enough that you are the fraud you have convinced yourself you are. This type of thought track is common among those experiencing imposter syndrome, and it affects your self-confidence, adding unnecessary stress to your life.
There are some common strategies you can utilize to help you develop resilience.
Your place in the program is not by luck. You earned your spot through dedication and hard work. Remember to celebrate your victories, and don’t dwell on the setbacks. Instead, reframe them in your mind as opportunities to learn and grow!
1 Benisek, Alexandra. “What Is Imposter Syndrome?” WebMD, January 15, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-imposter-syndrome.