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Understanding the Growth Mindset

The absolute first thing you need to do before you do anything in college is adopt a Growth Mindset. By adopting this mindset, you’ll unlock your ability to improve your academic performance, and you’ll understand why it’s possible to go from C’s in high school to A’s in college.

So what is this Growth Mindset? And why is it so miraculous? Well according to Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck, a “Growth Mindset is the belief that you can cultivate and improve upon your abilities through practice and effort.” This differs significantly from a “Fixed Mindset,” which dictates that a student’s ability is largely predetermined and unchangeable. Intuitively, it seems obvious why a Growth Mindset is more beneficial than a Fixed Mindset. Surely, everyone would want to believe that they can improve and do better. Yet, many students fail to adopt a Growth Mindset.

Think about it. Reflect on the last time you encountered a really difficult challenge and failed. Think about the time you studied for an entire month in preparation for your calculus test, but still received an average grade. Meanwhile, that one math whiz in your class who never has to study scores an A without even trying. What did you do when you encountered that disappointing situation? Did you view the situation as a growing opportunity? Or did you say: “I guess I’m not cut out for a math major. After all, I studied an entire month only to get an average grade. That math genius got an A, without even putting in half the effort I put in.”

Sound familiar? This common response is natural for most of us. When we work hard but receive disappointing results, it’s easy to fall into the trap of saying: “I just don’t have the natural talent for it.” This response represents a Fixed Mindset. It’s the type of mindset that hinders us from achieving our full potential.

As we’ve discussed, a Fixed Mindset can limit your potential, whereas a Growth Mindset can lead to significant improvements. There are many research studies that are dedicated to finding out how we can overcome a Fixed Mindset and encourage a Growth Mindset in higher education. You can read more about it by clicking here. Essentially, the key to getting rid of a Fixed Mindset and adopting a Growth Mindset is by changing your perception of success.

We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of a Growth Mindset, so how do we adopt it? According to Professor Dweck, you can change your mindset by following four easy steps. We outline these four steps in this post.

I hope that this post provides you with a nice introduction to the Growth Mindset. It's a really healthy mindset to adopt for college.

-Jonathan A. Lu '19

References:

"MINDSET." Mindset | How Can You Change from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset?Carol Dweck, 2010. Web. 18 May 2017.

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