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Editorial: Defeating imposter syndrome

Brown is a special place, but it can also be a place where it is difficult to feel special. Surrounded by thousands of other high-powered, brilliant individuals, it is easy to lose sight of how and where one belongs. But if this mentality — known as imposter syndrome — persists, it can be limiting. Each student at Brown is here for a reason, and while it may take some time to understand what that reason is, that is nonetheless a necessary reminder.

Students should never feel unnecessary to the Brown community. We all take an active role in our education; we just do so in different ways. Because students engage in different lifestyles, they contribute to the Brown environment in diverse ways. This year, 8.5 percent of applicants were accepted to the Class of 2019 — a miniscule proportion of applicants that substantiates the University’s claim that it hand-picks a student body that will flourish at Brown. Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73 told the Herald last year, “We will never bring a student here that we do not think will be successful.”

Redefine what success means to you, and make the most of your time at Brown, even if it entails trying new things. During one’s time at Brown, one should not shy away from getting involved in new ways both on and off campus. Apply for an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award, a Cogut Center Fellowship, a split-semester or even a job for which you may not feel entirely qualified — regardless of outcome. Even in the realm of interviews and applications, practice makes perfect, and each attempt bequeaths lessons learned and newfound confidence.

It’s easy to lose perspective on College Hill, which, from its perch above the rest of Providence, can seem insular and often isolating. But no matter how you look at it, Brown is a highly skewed environment, unrepresentative of what lies beyond its borders. This is something to embrace, but it must also serve as a point of awareness. While undergraduates make a life on College Hill for four years, what they learn during that time is not only relevant to campus but can also be readily applied to life after Brown. Your Brown experience is what you make of it, so make it a healthy challenge, and don’t underestimate yourself. Surrounded by a cushion of peers and faculty members who are here to support the student body, knowing that you belong is a necessary step to defeat imposter syndrome in order to push yourself in new directions and take ownership over your time at Brown.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Mathias Heller ’15 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to



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