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Five Ways to Build Confidence for Graduate School

Five Ways to Build Confidence for Graduate School

Enrolling in graduate school is a huge step into a new world of opportunities but it comes with a lot of pressure that can easily result in stress and crushing anxiety.

Graduate school presents a unique set of challenges including the pressure to satisfy the different expectations from various academic advisors and balancing both financial responsibilities and life outside graduate school. Not to mention, some graduate students are older and may have partners and children consuming their energy and time just as much as their schoolwork.

Research by the American College Health Association indicates that about 66% of graduate students experience average-stress, which affects their confidence levels. Therefore, as a student you need to build your confidence before joining graduate school.

Here are five ways to build confidence that can help graduate school students to banish negativity and feel good about their life, abilities, and responsibilities.

1. Face the Challenge

Attempting something new is scary for most people and joining graduate school is no exception.

Victory can only be achieved when one faces their fears. If you have an ambition to attend graduate school, you should not focus on the associated fear but look at it as an opportunity.

Consider the fruitful outcome, and then take the first small action. Then, a series of small actions , such as inquiring about the course you are interested in, registering for the course, seeking a mentor, and attending the first class, can lead to a fruitful outcome.

These small progressive accomplishments can sufficiently boost your confidence.

2. Perform a Reality Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is the process of evaluating your strength and weakness to gauge your performance based on particular parameters.

Self-assessment enables you to take the necessary actions and corrective measures relating to the demands of graduate school.

You will be able to test your preparedness and knowledge about graduate school, which is critical to building self-confidence.

The self-assessment boosts confidence by offering you the opportunity to self-manage or sharpen the skills needed to improve your qualifications for graduate school.

Need some extra help finding your footing or staying on track academically?  Schedule a call with us today to learn more about how we can support your success in graduate school and beyond!

3. Gather Evidence of Your Achievements

By the time you plan to enroll for graduate school, it’s certain you already have some accomplishments under your name. It’s a good idea to have some accomplishments.

Assess your accomplishments and seek out evidence of your capabilities.

One of the best methods to do this is to create an evidence file.

An evidence file can be a physical or an electronic record of all your achievements. It will contain report forms with good grades, completed projects records, recommendation letters from teachers, achievement awards, positive evaluation notes from fellow students, and recommendation letters from previous employers.

Gathering evidence of your achievements can help eliminate doubts about your ability to perform well, thus boosting your confidence as you prepare for graduate school.

4. Remember That You are a Human Being

Confidence does not come easily or quickly, especially when committing yourself to attending a graduate school. During graduate school, you might make a couple of mistakes and even feel discouraged from time to time, that is normal. You may also encounter individuals who somehow seem smarter, better, or more experienced than you, that is also normal. Chastising yourself for minor mistakes is unproductive and demoralizing.

To build your confidence, remind yourself of your accomplishments and resist the urge to compare yourself with others.

Whenever you feel defeated along your journey, revisit your self-assessment notes and records of personal accomplishments. Review some of your most admirable qualities and traits, and then add some new ones to the list.

Inspire yourself with affirmations and compliment yourself on your capability to recover from negative self-talk or discouragement.

Finally, remind yourself that you are human and a part of being human is learning new things and during the process, it is normal to experience self-doubt. But the trick is to not stay in the place of self-doubt!

5. Practice Self-Care and Build Positive Relationship

Self-care is closely related to self-confidence and self-esteem.
A study by Franklin University shows that self-care routines such as eating healthy, regularly exercising, and getting adequate sleep can make you feel better about yourself.

Graduate students should take time to evaluate their needs and identify what makes them feel good about themselves. Consider self-care practices like gratitude, mindfulness, and spiritual practices that can help minimize stress, enhance emotion regulation, and improve sleep.

It is common knowledge that negative people who try to bring you down can drain your energy and confidence. Having a strong support system in graduate school is a life saver and finding where you belong and building your academic and social network can contribute to your support system. Aim to develop relationships with individuals who appreciate you. As well, look to your professors, advisors, study group partners and friends.

Fostering positive and meaningful interpersonal relationships can build trust and grow self-confidence.


Graduate school can be a time of developing habits such as procrastination and burnout. Additionally, most graduate school students might struggle to balance their personal life, financial responsibilities, and academic requirements.
But graduate school can also be ripe with opportunities for growth, reflection, and building relationships.

Enrolling in graduate school is exciting but also challenging. Acquiring efficient, healthy, and strategic ways to manage stress and build the necessary confidence is essential to overcome self-defeating patterns and adopt a new found self-confidence.

You don’t have to go through this journey alone. At Sienna and Slate, we are always here to help guide you in the right direction and develop a plan that works for YOU.

Visit our programs page to learn more about how we can help ease your transition into graduate school life!

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