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Self-esteem is a term that represents how we feel about ourselves. It incorporates both our beliefs and emotions, and can be one of the most important concerns that you have as a developing adult. For many students, coming to Drexel is their first time living away from home, and the college experience involves learning about yourself and defining who you want to be in the future. This can directly influence your relationships with others, as how you feel about yourself can dictate how you interact with the world.

High Self-Esteem

Having high self-esteem means that you feel good about who you are. You may recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and are able to acknowledge both in a healthy way. You will generally like yourself and what you have accomplished, and have a positive outlook on your future. You may be more successful at school because you are confident in your abilities. You can develop stronger relationships with others because you understand yourself and can share that understanding with them.

Low Self-Esteem

Having low self-esteem means that you may doubt yourself and the decisions you make. You may not like yourself, and can be easily influenced by others as you lack confidence in your decisions. This can have a significant emotional impact, as you may not feel comfortable with standing up for yourself and expressing how you feel. If you do not like or respect yourself, you will likely have problems in your relationships with others. The negative attitude that accompanies low self-esteem can make it difficult to accept positive emotions from others, as you may believe that you don’t deserve them. You may struggle in school because you are less motivated or sabotage your ability to be successful. You may cover up your low self-esteem by engaging in risky behaviors, such as alcohol/drug use or sexual promiscuity.

Improving Your Self-Esteem

One of the first steps toward raising your self-esteem is recognizing that you are not happy with yourself. This may involve a long period of self-exploration that can include supportive family and friends, or professional counseling services. Once you have admitted to how you feel, you can start to apply steps toward improving your self-esteem every day. These will likely require hard work and regular practice, because you will be changing a significant part of who you are, but with time and effort you can overcome low self-esteem and feel better about yourself!

  • Learn to Accept Yourself…ALL of Yourself
    We often focus on our flaws and ignore our strengths. Part of raising your self-esteem is acknowledging all parts of yourself, the good and the bad, and recognizing that you are still a good person regardless. Believe that you deserve to be happy!
  • Think Positively
    The words that we use in describing ourselves can be very powerful. If you are constantly focusing on your weaknesses and putting yourself down, it will be very hard to overcome the negative influence on your self-esteem. The key may lie in learning how to speak in opposites; if you tell yourself something negative, immediately take that statement and try to make it a positive one. For example, if you consistently tell yourself that you are ugly, you have to turn that statement around and tell yourself that you are attractive. If you get into the habit of speaking to and about yourself positively, your self-esteem should improve.
  • Stand Up for Yourself
    With low self-esteem, we will often defer to others and give up control over our own lives. It is time for you to make your own decisions and be in control again! Stand up for what you want and need and learn to confidently (and appropriately) share that with others. If you disagree with someone, it’s okay to let them know. In some ways, you may find yourself disagreeing with your own preconceived notions about who you are, so learn to stand up for yourself in that way, too!
  • Become Self-Sufficient
    Learn to do things for yourself, rather than relying on others to do them for you. This not only means physical activities, but also your emotional well-being. Don’t rely on others to help you feel good about yourself. Positive self-talk will motivate you to do things on your own!
  • Take Care of Yourself
    When we are unhappy with ourselves, we may not take the time to do things that are good for us. Learn how to relax and enjoy your life. Get involved in activities that you like, and maybe even try something you’ve never done before. With the busy academic schedule at Drexel, you may think that you don’t have enough time to spend on leisure, but you should try to fit it into your life, even if it is only for 15 minutes per day.
  • Meet New People, or Reconnect With Old Friends
    Branch out and meet new people, in your classes or through campus activities. Get in touch with people you may have lost track of, and try to surround yourself with positive influences. You may discover that some of your old relationships had a negative effect on your self-esteem, and you may need to distance yourself from them somewhat until you feel strong enough to keep their influence from dragging you down.
  • Set Realistic Goals
    As you are making changes in your life, try to set goals for yourself that you can attain. Don’t reach too far, or you may set yourself up for disappointment. Instead, think about challenging but realistic goals that you can work toward in the future. They may be large goals, such as graduation or finding a job, or small ones, such as getting to bed on time or beginning an exercise program.
  • Get Help
    As you make the decision to change, you may find it difficult to do on your own. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Your support may come from your family or friends, but you can also call on the Drexel University Counseling Center. The professional staff at the Counseling Center is available to help you with the transition from low- to high- self-esteem. You may call us at (215) 895-1415, or e-mail us at to schedule an appointment.

Additional Resources

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.