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effort Focus

Relating success to effort rather than innate ability; Viewing intelligence as malleable rather than fixed

You may not realize it, but how you view your own intelligence plays a big part in your success. There are two ways we can think about how smart we are.

First, there is a “growth mindset.” This is the belief that what looks like “intelligence” is really just a product of hard work, practice, and the right guidance. Students who adopt this mindset take a much better approach to their studies.


Other students who have a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence is a stable trait, given at birth and basically unchanged throughout their life.

It can be easy to look at people with great accomplishments - athletes, musicians, business owners - and assume there is something great about them that you don’t have. Yet, if you read their stories, you will find that hard work is at the core of every success. After all, as a great man once said:

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
Albert Einstein

How can I improve my Effort Focus?

Strategies to Use

  • Find someone you respect or admire (a faculty member or advisor is a good place to start). Ask them to tell you the story of how they got to where they are today. Note the times in that story where they mention practice, effort, or guidance they received from others. Note how often they talk about how they were “just good” at something (those will be far fewer).


Resources at Montclair State

  • CAST offers tutoring services, supplemental instruction, workshops (including how-to guides to navigate online platforms and courses), access to online course support (navigate online platforms, tips for succeeding in an online course, internet and hotspot access), and links to external supplemental instructional materials.

  • Academic Advising helps students create a personalized approach that will help them achieve their personal and academic goals.

  • CAPS  provides free, voluntary services to all students including short term individual counseling, a variety of weekly therapy and support groups, consultations, psychiatry services and referral assistance to providers off-campus.

  • Center for Student Involvement houses the volunteer center, commuter life, greek life, and civic & voter engagement.

  • Prestigious Scholarships Program is a program dedicated to helping students find and apply for national and international awards to study abroad, do research, or fund graduate study. The program helps students define their academic, personal and professional goals and find prestigious scholarships that will help them in pursuing those goals.

  • Student Government Association aims to enrich your college experience by giving students opportunities to connect with others, explore new interests and lead their own clubs.

  • Disability Resource Center assists in receiving the accommodations and services necessary to equalize access. The DRC provides assistance to students with physical, sensory, learning, psychological, neurological, and chronic medical disabilities.‌

  • Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has built an innovative, inclusive and supportive community to help ANY student who is looking to launch or grow their idea or business or who wants to cultivate a more entrepreneurial mindset. 

  • Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) offers in-person and online appointments for every type of writing, workshops, and various online resources. The CWE fosters confidence, independence, and self-efficacy with short- and long-term goals.

Online Resources

  • The Khan Academy offers a great series of lessons, ranging from the way your brain forms to how to adopt a growth mindset. (Note they are labeled as exercises for “high school students,” but the lessons hold no matter how old you are).

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