Failure = Learning: Teaching Mindset to Incoming Freshmen

This summer, incoming college students are taking part in a summer bridge program designed to get them better prepared to start school, academically and socially. Every day for three weeks, students participated in 3 hours of academic instruction and college success “lunch and learn” workshops.

In a survey collecting student’s favorite and more informative activities during the program, one session in particular stood out:

“The one where we learned that if you fail, you’re really just learning.”

That’s how one student described a session on academic mindset, taught by InsideTrack’s Liz Derrough.

Liz has become known throughout our organization and in higher education for her passion teaching how underlying beliefs about academics, belonging and identity influence student success. Liz was invited to present at a recent summer bridge program about mindset, following years of experience in training fellow coaches and student support personnel on topics such as:

  • understanding and supporting students from a background of poverty
  • tailoring student support for first-generation and students of color
  • interventions to cultivate academic tenacity

Here are some of the other comments students shared about the impact of her session:

“College can be hard, but you have to believe you can do it and you really can get smarter.”

“Just because you fail at something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You have to keep trying and now I feel like I won’t be as upset if I fail because I know I can grow from it and keep trying.”

Wow. We’re proud of Liz Derrough and delighted to know these students will benefit from her powerful message.

The importance of this message cannot be emphasized enough. For many students, the idea that “failure = learning” is a revelation. Without this realization, many students become statistics of attrition and student debt.

This very real impact on students is the reason why, if you were to meet Liz in person, you might notice her sense of urgency. This is an urgency we as an organization share in our mission to unlock potential in our nation’s students and institutions.

Teaching students about mindset can impact outcomes, but commitment is required to help them fully implement new attitudes, beliefs, and habits.

The future looks bright for these students; thanks to bridge programs and other initiatives, students are provided thoughtful and comprehensive support throughout their college experience.

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