“There are two types of people in this world. Those who think they can and those who think they can’t. They are both right.” – Henry Ford
When it comes to doing well in college, having confidence in your own abilities will set the stage for everything that follows.
Will your mindset hurt you, or allow you to grow?
I’ve been reading several books about how students learn and all the authors agree on one thing: students have one of two types of mindsets: Fixed or Growth.
It’s important for you to identify your own as it will make a big difference in how you approach the challenges ahead of you. Can you guess which is one is better?
Students with a fixed mindset believe that they have a certain innate level of intelligence and ability. It’s fixed and they can’t do anything about it.
Students with a fixed mindset say things like this:
“I’m not a good writer.”
“I’m not a good test-taker.”
“I was never good at math.”
A fixed mindset is indicated by anything that you think or say that is self-limiting.
Sadly, far too many students have a fixed mindset.
When students with a fixed mindset encounter difficulties they tend to give up too easily. It’s often the cause for switching out of difficult classes, dumbing down majors, and even dropping out of college.
“It’s too hard for me. I’m just not cut out for this. I decided I didn’t want to be an engineer.” Whatever. Things got tough and you gave up.
I hope that doesn’t sound familiar.
Far too many students squander their opportunity not because they can’t, but rather because they don’t. They never gave themselves a chance.
Students with a Growth mindset believe that effort determines outcome. If they can’t do something well, it’s only because they don’t have the foundation or experience to be good at it, YET!
Students with a growth mindset view difficulties as a challenge: “I’ve never seen this, it looks hard, but no problem, I just need to figure it out.”
Nothing is more important than having a growth mindset when starting college, grad school, or whatever you’re stepping into.
Learning is hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to hurt! A muscle grows only if you stress it out and get it out of its comfort zone. Same thing happens with your brain. If you don’t challenge it, your knowledge and ability will not grow.
If your class or your major isn’t challenging you to the edge of your ability, find something different that will.
New and difficult assignments are going to be a part of your world for the next four years. Embrace them as challenges. That’s what makes college interesting and rewarding. If you think you can’t, you’ve already lost the battle.
Be self-aware of your own mindset
Awareness of a fixed mindset is the first and main step to avoiding it. Far too many students have it so ingrained that they don’t consciously think about it or realize that it’s causing a problem.
Whenever you think or say something self-limiting, call yourself out on it. When you are talking to your friends, do the same. No ‘stinkin thinkin’!
“YES, I CAN!” That’s your new mantra. Not ‘maybe’, not ‘possibly’, not ‘I’ll try.’ “YES, I CAN!”
Get all the negative comments completely out of your vocabulary. Whenever you hear negative, self-limiting comments, kill them quickly.
If you got into that school you are likely perfectly capable of doing well there. Believe that you can do it and show it!
Commit yourself to getting things done
Believing you CAN do something is only the first part of a good mindset. The other part is being WILLING to do something. That involves action. That means having the self discipline to actually get things done.
- Set a daily routine of when you get up, go to bed, and do all of your personal and school activities.
- Identify and commit to specific study times and stick to them. Shovel makes this extremely easy btw.
- Create a solid study plan that includes what, when, where, and how you are going to get things done.
- Eliminate all of the outside distractions and focus on your work.
A growth mindset and a solid plan of action will help you get started and keep moving from day one of your new semester.