7 Ways to Bring Out Your Confidence

By Danielle Laban, M.A., Director of Learning Services

CTU Student Success - Ways to bring out your confidenceYou’ve seen the person too afraid to raise their hand and ask a question in class; it may have been you. No one wants to be the only one behind in their understanding of what the instructor is teaching. So, fearful of being found out, many students suffer confusion in silence. But did you know that a lack of confidence and experiencing anxiety over your education can hold you back from experiencing greater academic progress? Having confidence isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for your academic success.

Asking questions that provide opportunity for your educational growth is important in building both your understanding and confidence as a learner. If you have a tough time with it, here are seven things to know that will bring out a more confident you in school:

  • It’s your responsibility to learn. You’re the one most responsible for your learning, especially as a university student. When you view your education through the lens of responsibility, you may be inspired to be more courageous in going after the resources available to you. Ultimately, the more you come to understand what you’re learning, the more confident you become.
  • The one who asks the most questions wins. There’s one in every class – the student in front who raises his or her hand to ask lots of questions. They’ve learned the value of boldly asking questions – it gets them proverbially ahead of the class. Rather than sitting toward the back of the class, position yourself near the front so you’ll feel less awkward asking more questions. Keep in mind that instructors are your greatest resources during class times, so use them.
  • Most students are as clueless as you. Don’t feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t understand a particular concept – chances are most of the class is feeling that way too. Remember they’re learning the subject material for the first time just as you are. Again, don’t be afraid to be the first to ask questions about topics you don’t understand. Don’t think you’re imposing on the instructor’s or students’ time. Your questions help the instructor to know whether they’re teaching in a linear enough fashion for the entire class, and you’re helping fellow students get the answers they needed to questions they were too shy to ask.
  • Think your way to confidence. Your inner dialogue can actually get in the way of your ability to learn better. Being internally focused on anxious thoughts distracts you from fully focusing on what you’re supposed to be learning. When anxious thoughts arise, replace them with confident thoughts. Instead of worrying that you won’t be able to learn the material, list the reasons in your mind for why you will be able to learn it. Tell yourself things like, ‘I have the same advantages as others here; I just need to trust that I can do it.’
  • Studying early helps you achieve more. Having a sense of achievement grows your confidence, and knowing that you studied earlier and harder than others can give you that sense of achievement even before you’ve mastered the material or passed the test. On the other hand, procrastination does the opposite and leaves you regretful at not having spent the time you needed studying. Get the syllabus as far in advance of the course start as you can and start reading and researching early. Study instructor material soon after class, and again prior to the beginning of the next class, so that your memory can be refreshed and ready to connect the next concepts.
  • A comfortable environment induces better learning. If learning leads the way to confidence, an ideal environment incubates learning. Find a cozy location free from distractions – though nothing so comfortable that you’re also induced to sleep. Also, consciously choose the best time as well as place for studying to ensure you’ll learn more effectively.
  • Teaching what you know builds confidence. Tied into achievement, teaching others is a quick confidence builder. You don’t have to know a lot more than another student to teach them. Knowing just a little more than someone else and helping them learn a little more than they knew before helps build both their and your confidence at the same time.

More Ideas for Confidence Building

While you may have a support system consisting of family and friends, building a network within your learning environment or university is hugely helpful in keeping you motivated to learn. Take on some of these other opportunities for building your learning support network:

  • Sign up for a student mentorship program. If your school has one, this is a great way to get introduced to the university and have the opportunity to connect with more experienced students.
  • Engage in extra learning activities outside of your courses, such as guest speaker lectures or learning workshops.
  • Stay connected to students you meet. They can be helpful for academic advice and support down the road.
  • Interact with your university’s online community. Social media is a great tool for giving and receiving advice to others.

Having and maintaining confidence is important in your ability to stay motivated and achieve strong academic success. As long as you’re committed to the responsibility of your education, you’ll courageously take yourself farther.

CTU Faculty - Danielle LabanAs director of learning services at Colorado Technical University, Danielle Laban, M.A., manages a team that provides academic support to all students, supporting their learning needs outside of the classroom. She earned her Master of Arts in Training & Development at Roosevelt University. Programs provided through learning services include disability services, open house, orientation, student mentorship, learning labs, Smarthinking and communities.

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Image credit: Flickr/Roo Reynolds