Making It Count for Your Future

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Overview

In this skill, we will look at how you can make your time as a student count by laying the foundations for your future success. This involves developing a ‘growth mindset’. This concept is associated with Carol Dweck (2006, 2015) and relates to our attitudes and beliefs about learning and intelligence and our ability to succeed or fail. As a result of developments in neuroscience and the concept of neuroplasticity, Dweck and others recognised that attitudes and beliefs are not ‘set in stone’ but can be developed over time. However, Dweck (2015) emphasises that growth mindset is more than working hard because it involves adopting new learning strategies that work for you.

To make your time in higher education count for the future, it is important to recognise your strengths, what you have to offer, what you need to develop, what opportunities you have, and anything that could hold you back. Knowing this helps you recognise your potential and what you want to do in the future. You will be able to plan your path ahead, set targets for what you want to achieve, and establish a time frame during which you can review your progress. Review allows you to see if you are on track, to get back on course if you are not, and update your plans if necessary. There are techniques to reinforce your development and help you to achieve your targets and future success. These include employing affirmations, which are statements you make about what you want to achieve, and visualisation, which involves making ‘mental movies’ in which you see your successes.

You can support your professional development by securing internships, placements, participation in student societies, and undertaking voluntary work and other extracurricular activities. These experiences help you improve your employability and in the process you may find out what you want to do in the future, or conversely what you don’t want to do.

Developing your employability skills improves your chances of success in job, placement, and internship applications. It starts with identifying what you have to offer and matching it to employment opportunities. This informs what you say in applications, cover letters and emails, in interviews, and also at assessment centres where they test a broad range of skills. In each case, developing appropriate skills will improve your chances of achieving successful outcomes.

The end of your course will not necessarily be the end of your time in education. You may take up opportunities for post graduate studies by completing a masters level course and perhaps a professional doctorate or doctoral research programme. You may come back to education later in life, perhaps taking part-time vocational courses linked to your career or extra-mural courses to develop new interests. As the world changes, you can see your participation in lifelong learning as consistent with developing a ‘growth mindset’ for future success.

In essence, making your time as a student count for your future involves adopting a positive mental attitude to your ongoing personal growth and a commitment to lifelong learning which will result in you becoming more employable.

Suggested Readings
Cottrell, S. (2019). The study skills handbook (
5th ed.
). Red Globe Press (Chapter 3, on employability and preparing for your future).
Becker, F. (2020). Boost your employability. SAGE.
Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2005). Now, discover your strengths. Simon & Schuster.
Buzan, T. (2018). Mind map mastery: The complete guide to learning and using the most powerful thinking tool in the universe. Watkins Media Limited.
Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 2024.
Jeffers, S. (2012). Feel the fear and do it anyway (
Revised ed.
). Random House.
Lumley, M., & Wilkinson, J. (2013). Developing employability for business. Oxford University Press.
Smale, B., & Fowlie, J. (2015). How to succeed at university: An essential guide to academic skills, personal development & employability (
2nd ed.
). Sage (Chapters 9–12, on employability and lifelong learning).

References

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success.Random House.
Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 2024.