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Confidence: A Back-to-School Essential for All Students
Ashford University’s behavioral sciences department chair Dr. Eric Klein shares insight into the connection between confidence and student performance

As students of all ages headed back to school this month, they made sure they had their books and other essential back-to-class supplies. But in their rush to prepare for the coming school year, many students may have overlooked one of the main building blocks for academic success: confidence. Dr. Eric Klein, department chair for the behavioral sciences at Ashford University, offers three tips to help students boost their confidence.

The first step is to start small. “Try taking a few small risks in class and examine the results,” Dr. Klein said. “For example, try asking your instructor a question in your weekly discussion. Second, realize that you are not alone. Decades of research has shown that the majority of college students experience self-doubt about at least one aspect of their work or experience in college. Third, increase your involvement in things that you are good at and you enjoy. For example, if you enjoy writing, participate in a newsletter or blog. If you enjoy being social, join more extra-curricular activities.”

Through his years of working with students, Dr. Klein has observed that passion, optimism, and extraversion are more prevalent in confident students. While students who lack confidence also often lack assertiveness and the willingness to take appropriate risks in the classroom.

“Confident students are often more flexible and adaptable, including the ability to adapt to different situations and settings,” Dr. Klein added. “They also have an internal locus of control, which means they more readily take responsibility for events and believe that they can have an effect on outcomes.”

For example, a confident student with internal locus of control might say, “I earned an A in that class due to my effort.” A less confident student with external locus of control might state, “The instructor gave me an A because she was generous and the coursework was easy.”

Even though confidence is an important skill in life, overconfidence can become a hindrance. “Overconfident students may have high self-confidence, but they often lack authenticity and humility,” Dr. Klein stated. “The most confident students and leaders are willing to share credit with others. They can also easily admit that they are not perfect.”

To read more about confidence and Ashford University, be sure to visit Ashford’s Facebook page and watch this video on YouTube.


About Ashford University
Where heritage meets innovation – that’s Ashford University. At Ashford, students discover relevant degree programs, innovative technology, and cherished tradition. Ashford offers associates, bachelor’s, and master’s online degree programs, while the Clinton, Iowa campus offers bachelor’s programs. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit,, , or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.

About Dr. Eric Klein
Dr. Eric Klein is chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ashford University. Prior to arriving at Ashford, he provided counseling services to students as clinical psychologist at Lehigh University, where he was named the 2010 recipient of the Alfred Noble Robinson Award. As a psychologist who studies human behavior, Dr. Klein appreciates the importance of a strong and progressive education for students’ immediate well-being and their future life outcomes. Dr. Klein earned his BA in Psychology from The College of New Jersey and his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University.