It’s All in The Mind: Growth Mindset and College Prep

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Growth Mindset and College PrepAdopting A Growth Mindset Can Help Students Succeed In The Classroom and In Their College Prep

By Megan, IvyWise Tutoring Manager

How can students learn better, and how can those skills translate into college and post-graduate success? The concept of Growth Mindset, from the research of Carol Dweck, has taken education world by storm and greatly impacted the way educational professionals view student instruction. Recently, Khan Academy hosted LearnStorm – Growth Mindset Livestream, and the team here at IvyWise has a breakdown of exactly what Growth Mindset is and how it’s beneficial when preparing for, and once students are in, college.

What is Growth Mindset?

According Khan Academy, Growth Mindset is “the belief that you can improve your abilities by practicing and learning from your mistakes.” The ideology is based off the notion that both intelligence and knowledge can be improved by practice and learning from mistakes. This means that students who may not have performed well in a previous subject can master that area of knowledge. IvyWise tutoring works in conjunction with this notion, and we work with students with this ideology in mind in order to help students increase their academic enrichment and standardized testing performance. But first, students, parents, and educators have to tackle the problem of a Fixed Mindset.

A Fixed Mindset is when a person does not believe they are capable of learning a certain subject. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m just not good at writing?” If so, then you have heard someone display a Fixed Mindset. Viewing the Fixed Mindset from a collegiate transition perspective, you may even hear someone say, “I’m just too shy to join a club.” The idea that you can’t change these things about yourself – either what you know or what you’re capable of doing – is limiting to students, and Growth Mindset aims to dispel those notions.

While the main goal of Growth Mindset at IvyWise is to help students excel in certain academic subjects and perform well on standardized tests, adopting this mindset can also be beneficial for students past the college prep process. Because college is a place for you to grow as an individual – academically and socially – your social skills can also improved by practice and learning from mistakes.

Learning Is a Process – Mistakes are Okay!                                          

Here at IvyWise we follow Khan Academy’s learning process , and each of our tutors acknowledge that learning is a process, one where practicing, making mistakes, seeing mistakes as opportunities, seeking help, and trying again are part of how your brain grows. We encourage our students to view challenges and failures as steps to try again and further develop. How do we do this? By following the Learning Process model mentioned above.


The first area Growth Mindset is implemented is through our full-length diagnostics and practice tests. When a student has signed up for an IvyWise tutoring program, we encourage them to take a diagnostic in order to evaluate their current level of testing in order to examine their areas of growth.

Make Mistakes

Making mistakes is expected during your practice test and tutoring sessions. Here at IvyWise, our tutors like to examine students’ thought processes and how they came to an answer, regardless of whether or not the response is correct. Understanding how they came to that conclusion, and celebrating their effort, helps us encourage students to push themselves towards the correct answer.                                    

Mistakes Become Opportunities

Letting students know that it’s okay to make mistakes fosters an environment of risk-taking and exploration. Students with Fixed Mindsets become defeated and see an incorrect question as a failure. However, students utilizing Growth Mindset have a ‘not yet’ mentality with failure. A ‘not yet’ mentality acknowledges that while the answer may have been incorrect this time, you’ll be able to get it correct in the future from learning.

When our students take their practice test diagnostics our IvyWise Tutoring team scores the responses and our Tutoring Manager puts together a Test Evaluation to analyze the ‘not yet’ questions. From this analysis, we are able to create a strategic plan for the student and their IvyWise tutor to move forward with.

Seek Help

There’s no shame in asking for help, especially from your parents, teachers, or tutors. Instead of becoming discouraged and believing that you’ve ‘failed’ and cannot improve, believe your abilities can and will be developed.

Trying Again

Once you seek help, you’re able to start over and try again in order to learn from the mistake. It’s important to reflect on your learning and what you did with a teacher or tutor in order to try again and understand why you did what you did and how you can explore and learn from it.

Learning isn’t just a skill that students need in order to get good grades and get into their top-choice college. Learning, fostered by a Growth Mindset, can help students succeed not only in high school, but once they get into college and beyond. By opening students up to the idea that just because they don’t understand something now doesn’t mean they never will, they’re prepared for experiences – both successes and ‘not yets’ – in college and, eventually, their post-graduate paths.

Related Topics

College Prep, Test Prep

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