This fall, students with freshly-minted doctoral degrees will transition into new roles in higher education. Throughout doctoral study, novice scholars learned how their degrees and titles would shape their identities and opportunities. As students, academic socialization introduced them to university culture, professional networking, and collegiate relationships, which prepare them for evolved roles of leadership, professionalism, and scholarship. Whatever position the student assumes following graduation, the new title of Doctor often manifests as greater expectations and challenges for professional growth.
Luckily, new doctoral graduates have cultivated skillsets to navigate the murky and unpredictable waters of higher education, but guidance from seasoned faculty and acculturation into the department and university help these scholars settle into their new identities.
New faculty members should be excited and confident as they transition into different roles. Their experiences and abilities have value and characterize their credibility. Yet some new faculty enter departments where expectations are as much oral tradition as written requirement. Engulfed by faculty with laundry lists of publications, presentations, and prestige, imposter syndrome tightens a quiet grip.
A collective effort from more senior faculty, as well as from departmental staff, eases the transition and guides the successful integration of new faculty. To encourage and reinforce a sense of belonging, even a simple comment such as “We’re glad you’re here” may shift a new hire’s thinking from imposter to colleague.
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