September 27th, 2011

Why Does Everyone Here Seem Smarter Than Me?

or When you’re a star in high school but simply a small fish in a big pond at college

In high school, lots of students achieve reputations for success based on different factors: popularity, playing sports, getting good grades, participating in lots of school activities and so on. Since many of the students in high school simply don’t want to be there, there is usually a wide range of grades earned by students, from people who get perfect or near perfect grades constantly to people who are barely passing and may, in fact, flunk out of school. College is usually different though, since in order to get into a college, students have to go through a great deal of effort to apply and then be accepted. As a result, the people who end up at school are usually people who are interested in doing well so that they can graduate and go on to work at a job that they enjoy or are good at. How can you reassure yourself that you can hold your own with this, or any crowd?

  • Remember, this college has accepted you. Whatever information they have about you, it was enough for them to take a leap of faith about your academic future. That should count for a lot, since many people don’t get accepted into the colleges that they’ve applied to at all.
  • Try not to think of yourself in comparison with the people around you when it comes to who is smartest. While it may be a different experience to find out that you are surrounded by people who are very determined to do well, that’s not to say that they’re going to end up more successful than you. You may not be at the absolute top of your college class, but surely you’re not at the absolute bottom either.
  • Try to find a range of people to hang around with: serious students who are very concerned with their grades and will be a good influence and study-mate for you, as well as people who are more mellow and less concerned about their grades. You don’t want to be completely obsessed with your grades, nor do you want to let them slide.
  • Don’t be intimidated by people who state, for example, that their goal is to win a Nobel prize. Your career goals are important too, whether or not you become internationally recognized for them.
  • Most importantly, seek out people, including college instructors, who can help you feel smart and more secure about your standing in the school. It is very important that you leave college with a secure sense of yourself, including your own intelligence, so that you know that you can be right up there with the best and the brightest, competing in the job market.


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