We know that many of you are in the midst of preparing to send your student to their first semester of college: paperwork, To Do lists, final family vacation, immunizations records, sheets that fit, raincoat, lunchbox….oh wait, that’s kindergarten…wasn’t that just yesterday? (Kinda bittersweet - we get it.)
We, the CoJMC advisors, have also been busy preparing for their arrival. Every fall semester we teach a course called JOMC 100 First Year Experience. It is designed to help first year students acclimate to college life. In addition to covering important topics like study skills and time management, we will be introducing the subject of a growth mindset, which encourages students to rethink their beliefs about intelligence and ability. Carol Dweck, the psychologist behind this research, found that a “fixed mindset” assumes our abilities and intelligence are fixed and unchangeable. A “growth mindset” is based on the belief that we can change and grow our abilities through effort and practice.
We believe this is an important topic because we know how challenging the first semester of college can be. At some point, nearly all freshmen will face that first big hurdle: a bad exam grade, missed assignment, roommate disagreement, homesickness. It can be very difficult, particularly if they have consistently been a successful student throughout high school. Because success is so often associated with being smart, when that hurdle happens they often think, “If I am so smart why did this happen?” By encouraging a growth mindset students can view failure not as a sign of lacking intelligence or of some insurmountable problem, but rather as a catalyst for working harder, digging deeper, and asking for help, all of which promote growth and being a lifelong learner.
Through our study of a growth vs. fixed mindset, we have found excellent resources that we will share with your students. We will introduce growth mindset in the first week and touch on it each week briefly to keep it fresh in their minds. Additionally, we will present related topics that students will discuss in their mentor groups. Our goal is for student to have a basic understanding of growth mindset so that they can use it as a tool when facing challenges throughout college and beyond.
Have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing our students in the fall!
Anne McConkey, Academic Adviser