UK University Students in Covid Era May Suffer From ‘Impostor Syndrome’

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UK University Students in Covid Era May Suffer From ‘Impostor Syndrome’


New students are more likely to suffer from “impostor syndrome” as they have earned their place in college through teacher-assessed A-level grades and not exams, a new study has warned.

Undergraduates arriving on campus this week may “feel like a fraud” because they haven’t had the chance to “earn” their scores on public exams, according to the University of Leeds study. Such perceptions could particularly affect students from disadvantaged backgrounds, leaving some at risk of dropping out, he warned. A strong sense of belonging to the university is associated with the feeling that a student ‘deserves’ their place, said the Learning and teaching psychology review of the journal.

“When students don’t feel like their place in college is rightfully deserved, they may experience ‘impostor syndrome’, or ‘feel like a fraud’, which is linked to problems with mental health, such as anxiety, ”the newspaper said. “However, study-related ‘impostor syndrome’ can be negated by pre-higher education grades that testify to students’ ability to be successful in their studies. “

Pandemic restrictions have deprived this year’s students of traditional exam scores to “justify” their place in college. “This can lead to unique identity management issues that need to be negotiated, especially among students of lower socioeconomic status,” the researchers said.

As part of the scores assessed by teachers this summer, 45% of applicants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland achieved an A / A *, compared to the 25% who achieved the highest scores on exams in 2019 The education ministry has said it “expects” exams to run in 2022 and is proposing mitigating measures for students who have missed instruction, such as allowing them to choose which subjects to consider. they will be examined.

Schoolchildren missed traditional exams during the pandemic. Photograph: David Jones / PA

But some fear that students will not be warned well in advance of the changes and that no contingency plan has been developed by the government. “The last thing we want to see are the exams canceled again, but considering what has happened this year and last, it makes good sense to come up with a contingency plan.” said Julie McCulloch, policy director for the Association of School. and college leaders. “Students, teachers and leaders deserve to know what this would look like as soon as possible, so they can plan, rather than leaving decisions to the last minute again. “

The Leeds study also indicated that students’ sense of disconnection could be exacerbated by the reduced possibility of mingling due to online education. Most UK institutions are keeping some of the education online, despite student preference for in-person learning and government guidelines to remove Covid restrictions and provide a normal student experience.

“Since online education, or a hybrid of online and in-person education, can last until the next academic year, students in the incoming cohort may also not have… college,” says study. “Student social networks are an important factor in alleviating stress and improving academic performance. “

It recommends that universities take steps to foster a sense of belonging, especially among under-represented student groups, through peer support programs and measures to build academic confidence in a student body. cohort that missed substantial amounts of schooling. The Students Office has also called on universities to provide more support for students who may be less well prepared than previous cohorts.

Jamie Halls, the first in his family to go to college, is about to start a biology degree at the University of Essex. Studying for A levels during the lockdown at Sixth Form College in Colchester was a challenge, he said.

“I felt more confident with the Level A content that was being taught before the lockdown than during it. There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether the exams were going to take place or not, and it was troubling. “I think we missed the opportunity to take the final exams, although we did exams and simulations at school. When it comes to comparing ratings, it’s hard to tell if you are on the same page and have the same knowledge as others.

Along with 700 other applicants, Jamie completed the Essex Preparation Program over the summer, a six-week online course specifically designed to help new students get started as soon as they start their studies next month.

“It was really helpful. We’ve covered things like independent learning and critical thinking, ”Jamie said. “I feel like it’s been a long time since the end of the school year and the program has helped put me in the frame of mind to look forward to learning again.

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