How colleges can help female students build self-esteem and confidence

Last week I was interviewed by USA TODAY College for an article titled “Study: Females lose self confidence throughout college.” In my interview I included information on how colleges can help build confidence in their female students. The information was too extensive to be included in the USA TODAY College article, so I decided to blog about it for you.

Invite college women to the conversation
One sure fire way for colleges to help build confidence in their female students is to ask them directly, “What can we do to help you?” Host an open discussion on campus and invite all female students. Reach out to women’s studies departments, women’s resource centers and sororities to help spread the word. During the discussion, ask college women questions like:

  • What do you think gets in the way of self-confidence?
  • What do you think is the root cause of low self-esteem?
  • What would it look like to be self-confident?
  • What would have to change for you to develop more self-confidence during your years on our campus?
  • How would your life be different if you were fully confident in your own skin?

Give young women a platform to share their voices. If students would like to share their voices anonymously, give them the opportunity to either submit comments in advance, or during a live event, colleges can use a service like polleverywhere.com. This service gives students the opportunity to text or Tweet comments, which would appear instantly on screen in a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.

A college could host a live event, or a series of live events, and then perhaps consider hosting a Pinterest page or private Facebook group page and invite students to further the conversation online. Then colleges can ask their female students to help implement the top strategies that they came up with. When young women are invited to the conversation, they not only gain confidence, they gain buy-in and are invested in promoting the solutions they helped to create. They become everyday leaders one step at a time. With increased confidence, perhaps they’ll begin to choose to formally expand their leadership development by taking on leadership roles within clubs and organizations. Remember it all can start by simply inviting young women to the table.

Take it to youtube
Colleges can also videotape their female faculty, staff, alumnae and current college women leaders sharing personal stories and tips on how to lead their lives with confidence. Then post the videos on their college youtube page and other social media sites. Then write a feature article in the campus newspaper on the same topic and cross promote.

Invest in self-esteem building programs.
Colleges can invest in their female students. Consider inviting local and national female college speakers to campus who specialize in helping young women build confidence. I’m a college speaker who specializes in empowering young women to let go of the pressure to look and be perfect so they can lead with confidence and resilience. In my presentation, “Success Starts With Self-Love” college women and I discuss both external and internal barriers to self-confidence. While factors outside ourselves like the media, technology with a Photoshop, perfection obsessed culture, family upbringing etc, can all influence our self-esteem, it’s the factors within ourselves that are the root causes of low self-confidence. The good news is these internal factors (ex: giving in to negative self-talk, comparing ourselves to others, holding onto an externally-defined sense of worth, etc) are directly within our control to change!

There are many other fantastic female speakers who are wonderful role models for young women. Google “female college speakers” and “self esteem college speakers.” Sororities like Kappa Delta Sorority created a Confidence Coalition, and offers Confidence U grants to college Panhellenic offices to develop confidence-building programming and awareness initiatives for women on their campuses. According to their website, “Grants of up to $5,000 are awarded to ten college Panhellenics to help women find ‘the Confidence In U.’”

I’d love to hear you share your voice! What can colleges and universities do to help you build self-esteem and confidence? Leave a comment below!

In friendship,
Maria

-Maria Pascucci
Founder & President
Campus Calm®, certified professional life coach, speaker and author of Campus Calm University: The College Student’s 10-Step Blueprint to Stop Stressing and Create a Happy, Purposeful Life.

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