Skip to content

Advice for Underconfident Students, and Others

Much of this “Advice for Underconfident Students” works no matter what age you are, or whatever your journey. Enjoy – Lee

Here’s my advice for today’s underconfident students – first generation or not – whether they are a parent, teacher, or friend trying to help:

  • You are likely to take your gifts and interests for granted. You think that if something comes easy for you, it comes easy for everyone. It doesn’t.
  • No journey is a straight path. Embrace your mistakes. The knowledge gained from those mistakes will differentiate you and help further your career, though you probably won’t realize it at the time.
  • If a sibling or friend is considered the smart one, that doesn’t mean that you are the stupid one.
  • Grades are not necessarily indicative of ability. They could reflect anxiety, a lack of interest, or perhaps even an undiagnosed learning disability. And grades rarely measure such critical skills as empathy and dedication.
  • Don’t bury your desires just to please others, including parents.
  • It’s OK not to know what you want to do. Learn what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what makes you unique.
  • Avoid being a square peg squishing yourself into a round hole. Don’t limit your universe to published lists extolling the best-paying jobs. The world is more complex than “STEM equals success and humanities majors fail.”
  • People often think they are too old to change. They aren’t. My 69-year-old husband received a PhD in history last year.
  • Find supporters. They are there.
  • Forgive yourself. It’s not easy.
  • Finally, take risks.

Author Phyllis Lev Brust is the founder of CareerMutt. She was a college counselor for 30 years. This advice was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, an alumni magazine.

Back To Top