You need to have the right mindset in college

“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.

I’m reading a book about how students learn in which the author says that students have one of two types of mindsets – Fixed or Growth.

It is important for you to identify your own as it will make a big difference in how you approach the challenges ahead of you.

Fixed Mindset

Students with a fixed mindset believe that they have a certain innate level of intelligence and ability. It’s fixed and they really can’t do anything to change it.

Students with a fixed mindset say things like this:

“I will never be as smart as that kid”
“I don’t test well.”
“I’m not a good writer.”
“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 of dropped classes, changing majors, and even dropping out of college.

“It’s too hard for me. I’m just not cut out for college. I decided I didn’t want to be an engineer.” Whatever the excuse is. Things got tough and they gave up.

Sound familiar? Why bother trying to do better because you just won’t be able to.

Far too many students squander their opportunity not because they can’t, but rather because they don’t. They never gave themselves a chance.

Growth Midset

Students with a Growth mindset believe that effort determines outcomes. If they can’t do something well, it’s only because they don’t yet have the foundation or experience to be good at it.

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.

College is hard. It’s supposed to be. If your classes 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 a challenge. That’s what makes college interesting and rewarding. If you think you can’t, you’ve already lost the battle.

Which mindset do you have?

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.

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 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 WILLING to do something about it. 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.

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.

We created the Shovel Study Planner to keep you on track and help you build your own growth mindset.

Become a more productive student.

Timeboxing Study Planner - Shovel


  1. Jesse D Rennie

    Hello team! I have always struggled with staying on top of studying for class. I need structure!!! and this planner looks like it would do just that. I will gladly pay for the app. Do you need beta testers? I use the MAC Eco system.

    • Jim Siverts

      Hi Jesse. The app is getting close. We have had a few design changes that we are working on. Definitely will be looking for beta testers and will add you to the list. Lots of good stuff coming for next semester on web version as well. Will also have a comprehensive set of tutorial and how to study videos.

  2. Anthony

    Although I haven’t used this to it’s fullest extent yet for high-school, I am excited knowing finally something to help with me and my ADHD being a schedule heavy person. Understandably it’s for college but I feel this website and when the app comes out(Which I’ll gladly pay for) it’ll help even high-school students with time management!
    Honestly, thank you so much for making this.

  3. Elias

    I was attempting to learn PHP and JavaScript so I could make something like this for myself. With 15 years of carpentry behind my belt, I couldn’t believe their was no time budgeting software from the University. I will gladly pay for this app, and am eager to Beta test on Android when its ready. What an amazing future you have ahead of you. I want some stock in your company! Absolutely perfect, nail on the head design.

    • Jim Siverts

      Thanks much. A really cool update is in the works that will make Shovel easier and faster than ever before. Stay tuned!


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