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Finding the Right Connections for First-gen Students with Impostor Syndrome

Finding the Right Connections for First-generation Students with Impostor Syndrome

Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division
Thomas Dickson University of California, Riverside

This presentation will review the building blocks of impostor syndrome in first-generation college students. We will explore the fundamentals of impostor syndrome, the impostor cycle, characteristics of those with impostor syndrome, and review how to help first-generation students move toward success.

First-generation students have their own unique set of characteristics and challenges that come with this invisible identity. This presentation will review how first-generation students often struggle with strong feelings of guilt, fears of failure, as well as internal and external expectations to succeed. Often, some of the most challenging experiences of a first-generation student face are navigating the complex arrangements of emotions that cause them to generate greater levels of anxiety, dismiss praise, and struggle with the enjoyment of success. We will understand how first-generation student feelings of self-doubt, guilt, and fear of failure are often bound together into the perfect construction for impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is a persistent self-doubt and fear of exposure as a fraud that causes many first-generation students to doubt their own abilities, discount praise, generate additional anxiety, opt for easier pathways, and to experience increased dissatisfaction with their lives. This presentation will review the original works of Imes and Clance (1978) and show how the already present fears and pressures of first-generation students can be amplified by impostor syndrome as well as how the impostor cycle can become more severe for first-generation students. We will provide methods for teaching students to overcome fears and guilt as well as techniques for moving beyond dismissing praise to learning to enjoy successes.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • be able to identify the components of impostor syndrome and the steps of the impostor cycle;
  • recognize the compounding factors of the first-generation identity when paired with impostor syndrome; and
  • identify methods for addressing impostor syndrome and techniques to celebrate and internalize successes.
Course Length
Course Type
On Demand

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