Self-confidence building activities for students
5 simple tips for better, more confident learning.4 min read Published: 31 May 2023
You’ve secured your place at college for a reason – because you’re good enough to be there. But too many college students lack self-confidence and they experience “imposter syndrome". They face pressures to be perfect and a fear of failure. And iff getting good grades wasn’t hard enough, you’re supposed to be enjoying the best years of your life!
While some people are naturally self-confident, some of us may need to develop strategies to give our confidence a boost – and that’s OK. Confidence is something you’ll build as you experience the results of your actions and your achievements. Even if you’re not feeling confident today, trust us that investing in yourself will improve how you feel tomorrow.
Here are five self-confidence-building activities every college student can use to ensure they achieve their potential.
Why building confidence is critical
Life at college is hard. The most recent College Confidence Index found 48% of students experience anxiety or stress, 34% have trouble sleeping, and 29% have feelings of depression.
Students, particularly those in their first years, can find it hard to manage studying away from home. At college, we're expected to manage our own learning with minimal direction and control from professors. The transition from regulations and schedules to looser education can come as a shock – but everyone can adapt.
Here are five activities that can help give you the confidence you’re achieving the best you can.
1. Start with a plan
Student confidence comes from having a study plan, so start by developing one.
It can be overwhelming sometimes when faced with a huge task but breaking it down into chunks makes it more manageable and achievable.
There are no rules when it comes to planning, it’s what works for each person. However, here are some tips:
- Make time to plan – It’s easy to dive straight into the books, but start each study session, block, and semester by making a plan. Jot down what you want to do (read 10 pages of a book, for example), and what you want to achieve (understand the concept and apply it).
- Clearly state your objectives – Work out your objectives, and set yourself some goals for each semester. Of course, it's up to you how specific you want to be, but setting weekly or even daily study goals can work as a massive motivator. Think of a plan like a route map. Each study session, day, week, semester, and year builds towards an achievement you can be proud of.
- Paper and pen, app, or word doc – it doesn’t matter which – find a way to plan that works best for you.
- Review progress – when you’ve completed a study session, or aced a test, tick it off! Seeing the progress you make is a huge motivator.
- Be flexible – Even the best plans must be flexible enough to accommodate changes. Unexpected events, out-of-the-blue invites, or simply wanting a duvet day are fine. Build some slack into your planning system and don’t be disheartened if you drop a study session here or there!
Planning is one of the most powerful confidence-building activities for students at any stage of their academic lives.
2. Establish a schedule that works for you
At college, you’re free to discover how you work best. Some of us are early risers, while others prefer a lazy morning while working late into the night.
Your study plan should include set hours for studying. Of course, you can be flexible (don’t miss out on that foreign trip), but sticking to a schedule will give you confidence you’re investing enough time in your studies. It also means you won’t feel guilty when taking time away from the books.
Social isolation is a big issue for college students, potentially causing feelings of stress and depression. We encourage you to find time in your schedule for collaborative work or group study sessions. This provides a valuable opportunity to discuss anything you’re struggling with, unlock concepts, and form connections with friends.
3. Maximize learning from lectures
Lectures are critical to the college experience. Thankfully, modern college professors are using more engaging ways to inspire learners, including introducing visuals, video, and audio to bring subjects to life. However, there's still massive pressure on learners to listen, process information, and produce notes. As a result, many students find their confidence takes a hit as they're worried they have missed essential elements or points made during lectures.
Classroom technology can make effective learning easier. Instead of transcribing notes, you can record sessions and reflect on them. As well as simply taking notes, you can enrich the lectures with annotations, comments, and links.
Instead of capturing fragments of each lecture, you can engage fully in what experts call “active listening” – all with the confidence you’re capturing everything.
4. Review progress and reward achievement
It’s essential that every learner finds the time to review the progress they’ve made toward their learning objectives. At the end of the week, if you can tick off a completed study calendar, it’s time for a reward. Incentives are effective at increasing our commitment to a course of action. The bigger the achievement, the bigger the reward!
Reviewing progress is a core part of building confidence that you’re doing the right things. Every action – however small – is pushing you toward your ultimate goal of getting the best degree you can.
5. Find balance
Despite what you may have read, college isn’t all about learning – it’s about broadening your interests and building you into a better person.
As you progress academically, you'll build confidence as a student, but you should invest in personal development. It's essential to do what you love, whether playing sports, video games, running a marathon, or simply sitting around chatting with friends. Investing time in activities can build confidence in all students.
Research has found that those with stronger friendships have higher self-esteem. The stronger your social circle, the more confident you are.
One great way to make friends is to join social clubs, sports teams, or getting together with those people who share the same passion. Being a student is the perfect time to invest in developing new interests, making friends along the way.
Build personal resilience
These self-confidence activities for students are proven to help you build the internal strength you need to succeed. Psychologists call it resilience. We all know our feelings and emotions change and can be affected by external factors outside our control. Resilience is the core belief and confidence that we’re doing the right things, no matter what pressure we're under.
By working on specific steps to improve your self-confidence as a learner, you'll soon build the resilience to feel secure in your studies, knowing everything you do is helping you achieve your long-term goals.
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