Do You Experience Imposter Syndrome?

Updated: Nov 5, 2021


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Have you ever felt like you don’t belong or aren’t good enough? Or that your accomplishments were all just because of luck? If so, keep reading to learn why that might be.


Imposter syndrome is self-doubt and believing you are not as competent as people think you are. About 70% of people will experience one episode of imposter syndrome in their life. It can affect anyone, no matter their race, age or social status.


Many factors can cause people to develop imposter syndrome. Factors that can contribute to imposter syndrome are:

  • Family dynamics

  • Cultural expectations

  • Personality traits (being a perfectionist)

  • Comparison

What are common signs of imposter syndrome?

Common signs of imposter syndrome are:

  • Anxiety

  • Self-doubt

  • Fear of being a fraud

  • Not taking credit for your success


Photo by Wix.

What does imposter syndrome have to do with first-gen students?

A study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that college students often abandon pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers because of the competitive courses. They found that first-generation students are more likely to experience imposter syndrome in STEM courses.


Students who are the first to attend college often experience imposter syndrome due to family backgrounds and cultural expectations. Young people don’t feel like they belong because they enter college with many obstacles. Families with different cultural backgrounds may have different values of success and education for their children. Students may often feel like their grades were never good enough for their parents in the past.


Michelle Do is a first-gen undergrad at Temple University who often experienced imposter syndrome throughout college.


What can you do?

Everyone’s experience of imposter syndrome is unique. Some ways to help combat the imposter feeling is to:

  • Talk about it: It’s important to know that many students feel the same as you. Talking to people can help you realize that anyone can get imposter syndrome, even the most successful people. You can also learn from others just by speaking about it.

  • Reframe your thoughts: If you have imposter thoughts, take a moment to reflect on the thought. If you got accepted to a college and didn’t think you belonged, think about what you did to get there.

  • Praise yourself for your successes: Start by believing that you got to where you are because you worked for it. You have the skill, intelligence and talent that helped you accomplish all those things.

Imposter syndrome can be difficult to overcome but know that it will take time to overcome it. The imposter is common among many people, from a college student to an executive working at one of the top companies. Remember that you are capable of success.