Impostor Syndrome at University

London skyline at night

Today someone suggested to me that I might be suffering from impostor syndrome. I hadn’t really considered it before, but now I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Since coming to university, I have always had this overarching feeling that I don’t belong here. Although I love my university campus and surrounding area and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else, I’ve never really felt like I belong on my course. At the moment, I think it comes from the fact that I’m not studying the course I applied for – I switched degree within the first two weeks and now I keep wondering whether I would have been accepted on this course if I had applied directly to it. I imagine myself sitting down and writing my personal statement back in the summer before Year 13 and wonder what I would have wrote to persuade my university to offer me a place on this course. Although I enjoy what I’m studying now – international relations, by the way – politics hasn’t always been a passion of mine, like most of my course mates.

I’ve always struggled to contribute in class throughout school, and since coming to university I’ve found participating in seminar discussions equally as hard. When I’m sat in my seminars, I constantly feel that I’m not good enough, I don’t know enough and I don’t deserve to be here. I always make sure to do all my reading to prepare for seminars and I understand the material, but when it comes to forming opinions and debating with my course mates, my brain freezes and I can’t think of anything to say. To me, it seems like everyone else on my course has a really strong understanding of politics and is really opinionated. I don’t come from a very political family, we hardly ever just had discussions about what was going on in the world when I was growing up so I feel like discussing politics in any way is still very new to me and I haven’t had the opportunity to form strong opinions on things.

I guess because seminars are the most direct way for me to compare myself with other people on my course, I presume because I struggle in this aspect of my course, I must not be good enough to be doing my course at all. Which, thinking about it, is ridiculous. Last year I averaged a 1:1 overall and somehow won the departmental prize for outstanding achievement. However, when I got my grades back, I didn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t happy or proud and I shrugged off my achievements by telling myself that I only did well because I’m good at memorising facts for exams and researching for essays and that I’m not good at my actual subject, just studying in general.

I’ve realised today that my experience of impostor syndrome at university has probably been caused by constantly downplaying my achievements throughout my time at school. I’ve always been a high achiever but for some reason I’ve always felt like I couldn’t celebrate my grades if my friends were disappointed with theirs and now it’s become a habit that I can’t seem to shake.

I think impostor syndrome at university is quite common. When you’re surrounded by people from different educational and personal backgrounds, it’s normal to compare yourself to them to an extent. I think when it becomes a problem is when you start to feel like your ideas and opinions are not valid because ‘everyone else is smarter than you’ or that you ‘don’t belong’ because your learning style is not the same as others. Impostor syndrome can make being a student really hard, but if you also think you suffer from it like me, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that recognise it as a struggle you face is the first step to overcoming it.

I’m not sure if this ramble will be useful to anyone in anyway, but I think it’s helped me to write down and deconstruct my thoughts.

I hope you’re all well and hopefully I’ll be back with another post soon!

Study With Me: Last Week

Hello! Long time no blog right? I thought I’d try something different and try to document what I’ve studied this past week and for roughly how long. Partly to motivate me to study so I can actually write this, and partly because I’m curious as to how much time I spend studying each of my three subjects. College recommends we do at least 4 hours of independent study per subject per week, so it’ll be interesting to see if I actually stick to that in a typical week and whether I spend more time on some subjects over others. I’ll also include how much time I spend in lessons as well to give you an idea of what my timetable is like as an A Level student. This post is going to be a bit mathsy and probably not the most interesting, but bear with me here! I’ve been struggling with ideas lately 😝

Wednesday

3 hours French lessons

1 hour 30 minutes geography homework

1 hour 30 minutes history revision

Wednesday’s aren’t usually this productive for me, because I’m usually quite tired after I get home from college (gotta love getting up at 6:30) but yesterday I got given quite a bit of geography homework due in on Thursday so I had to spend a lot of time on that, and I skipped the history revision that I’d scheduled in for yesterday, so I had to catch up on that. For the history revision, I did some essay plans for the politics and economics unit (my fave and least fave – politics is cool but economics is SO CONFUSING) and I also made a flashcard set for the key policies and events from the unit on Quizlet (because they are a nightmare to learn). I wanted to find some sort of website where I could make a big interactive timeline sort of think to help with history, because the period we study is massive – 1918-1990 – and I can never remember which Prime Minister was in power when, what party they represent and what policies they enacted. It’s really difficult to write the essays without knowing who was in power, so if anyone has any tips for revising history I’d appreciate the help!

Thursday

3 hours geography lessons

1 hour 30 minutes history lessons

15 minutes geography homework

Today I wasn’t very productive outside of lessons. I had a 3 hour gap between geography and history as usual, but I only managed to do about 15 minutes of work before I got distracted by my friends. Then by the time I got home I was too tired to do anything but oh well, tomorrow us a new day!

Friday

30 minutes history homework

1 hour geography homework

30 minutes French revision

I never have lessons on a Friday, so you think I’d have plenty of time to do work right? Well, I slept in a bit too late this morning, then spent ages trying to fix my laptop and just generally got a bit distracted. Oops. I did manage to finish off some history and geography homework/classwork though and made some flashcards for French.

Saturday

1 hour 30 minutes rewriting geography notes

15 minutes rewriting history notes

45 minutes French homework

30 minutes geography revision

1 hour 30 minutes history coursework

The weekend is where I usually try to rewrite my notes from the past week, because often my class notes are messy and we miss out stuff from the text book so I just go back through each chapter and write my notes up nearly so they’re easier to revise from. I had to do two chapters of geography this morning which is why it took so long, and then had to file away various worksheets and assessments. I managed to do 45 minutes of speaking practice for my French speaking mock next week which basically just involved talking to myself and answering questions about the topic I’m being tested on. Then I worked on my history coursework as I have to have the final draft ready for next week.

Sunday

1 hour 30 minutes French homework

I cycled 15 miles. I am exhausted. I just want to sleep. It’s not even that far but I haven’t cycled in months. So therefore I have been very unproductive today.

Monday

3 hours history lessons

30 minutes geography revision lesson

1 hour 30 minutes geography revision

2 hours French homework

I managed to finish off the French homework I started yesterday, it took ages!! I had an extra geography lesson at college where we went over exam technique, so when I came home I did a bit more exam practice.

Tuesday

1 hour 30 minutes geography lesson

15 minutes French revision

1 hour geography revision

I went into college early before my  lesson to do some geography revision then because it was parents evening, my French lesson was cancelled this afternoon so I did a bit of revision for my French speaking test tomorrow, although I still don’t feel prepared 😂

Total:

12 hour 30 minutes of lessons

7 hours 15 minutes of geography homework/revision

3 hours 45 minutes of history homework/revision

5 hours of French homework/revision

Well…I’m pretty surprised at the totals to be honest! I didn’t realise I spent so much time studying – 16 hours in total – which is more hours than I spend in lessons. It just goes to show how much independent work A Levels require. It’s interesting to see that I spend the most time on geography, but I suppose it makes sense as we get a lot of homework and I do find it hardest so I spend more time trying to understand the content. History is my least favourite subject, so I don’t spend much time on it but I do enough to keep my grades up and although there is barely any content for French, it does require a lot of practice which is why I spend a lot of time on it.

So I met the recommended 4 hours a week of independent study for 2 out of 3 subjects last week, which isn’t bad! I think the amount of studying people do at A Level varies, depending on which subjects you find more difficult or which ones you want to prioritise – I know I wouldn’t meet my target grade for geography if I didn’t spend the most time on it. I hope this has been an interesting guide to those of thinking about A Levels or studying them currently. 🙂

//Year 13: expectations vs. reality//

Hello! As it’s approaching the start of term 2 in the UK, I thought I’d reflect a little on my first term as a Year 13 student. So far this year has been quite different to how I imagined, but I think it’s also going to be my favourite school year so far, which I’ll talk about below!

(I know most of my writing lately seems to be about studying, it’s just because I have so much studying to do it’s all I can think about! I’d like to start writing about a greater variety of topics again, so please let me know whether you like these type of posts or if you’d want to read something different!)

Workload:

Obviously I expected the workload to be a lot more demanding than year 12, as generally school gets harder the further you progress. Over the summer I was probably overthinking and stressing about the daunting amount of new content, coursework and revision that lay ahead! Although I frequently find myself swamped with work, which lives up to my expectations, I think I am coping with the workload better than I thought I would. I’m much more productive than I was last year and somehow I’m managing to stay on top of my work and get ahead in some subjects.

100_9443

Subjects:

I had some individual expectations for each of my subjects this year – which are the same as last year; geography, history and French – so I’ll go through them seperately.

100_9437

French – I actually thought French would be the most similar to last year, as we have the same amount of themes/units and no coursework, plus slightly less grammar as we did a lot last year. I’m really enjoy the themes as they’re very political, however I’m really struggling with the speaking-aspect of French this year, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought I would be fine because my speakingand confidence improved so much last year and I ended the year on a high getting a B in my speaking exam. It’s seems like the summer break has really affected my confidence though, and I’ve been getting anxious before our fortnightly speaking exams and having mind blanks during them. I can really tell my quality of ideas and grammar is slipping which is NOT GREAT so hopefully if I spend lots of time practicing my speaking, I’ll be back to my pre-summer standard by the exam period!

Geography – as with last year we have four modules in geography but whilst I enjoyed all of these in year 12 I didn’t think I would this year as the modules are a lot more science-based. So far we’ve done a human topic which was superpowers and I absolutely loved it however I’m kind of dreading starting the water cycle unit next term.

History – I didn’t think I’d enjoy the witch craze topic we’re doing this year, and although I didn’t at first, i’m finding it really interesting now that I understand it more, so that’s good!

Organisation

Last year I like to think I was pretty organised and had a good study routine, so I sort of just assumed I’d carry on with that this year. However my timetale has changed quite a lot so I haven’t found a good routine of when to study yet, Also I didn’t think I’d start a bullet journal but I have and it’s totally changed the way I stay organised!

100_9446

Stress

Before starting year 13, I definitely expected it to be the most stressful year of my life so far, what with the stress of A Level exams and applying to uni,. I’ve certainly been extremely stressed this past term, but because I anticipated it, I think it as helped me to get over it and cope with it quicker. Also a couple of weeks into term I decided I needed to properly take better care of my mental health and since I’ve been using some of the methods I mentioned in this post, I’ve definitely been a lot happier and positive. Even thought I still have low points, I know I can get through them now and have picked up some strategies to help me deconstruct my emotions and work through them.

100_9453

Well that’s all the expectations/reality examples I can think of so I shall conclude the post here. Let me know in the comments if you’d like more study themed posts, or more of a variety and I’ll try to get writing more often because I really miss it!

How has school been for you so far? Is it what you expected? I’d love to hear your thoughts!